In 2008, Governor Mike Rounds got the Legislature to enact Senate Bill 188 (now SDCL 5-14-32 through 5-14-38, weakened slightly in 2015 by HB 1029) to require state building projects to comply with green building standards. Building to such standards usually adds 0% to 4% to building costs—maybe 12.5% to achieve the highest standards. In return, green projects create more jobs, and buildings meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards use less energy and water, reduce operating costs and increase cash available for other investment and innovation, raise property values, provide better working conditions, and fight climate change and coronavirus.
To spare South Dakota the scourge of all those green benefits, Senator Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel) proposes Senate Bill 134, which would gut those green building standards for all state building projects. SB 134 would excuse renovation of state buildings from meeting any LEED standards. SB 134 would strike the language requiring new construction of heated, ventilated, or air-conditioned state facilities to “meet or exceed a high performance green building standard” and instead say designs for new state construction “must attempt to achieve the highest rating, reasonably obtainable, in accordance with the high-performance green building standard.”
In other words (forgive me, my little green friend), Try or Try Not. There Is No Do.
Section 7 of SB 134 repeals the criteria allowing waivers from green building standards, because SB 134 is waiving green building standards for all state projects.
Come on, Senator Maher: South Dakota is already losing the confidence of venture capitalists. We have enough culture-war yahoos undoing what little good might have come from spending our coronavirus dollars on tourism ads. Why make our state look more regressive? Green energy helped save South Dakota’s economy and budget amidst the pandemic. Withdraw Senate Bill 134, and let’s stick to Mike Rounds’s good idea and keep building for the future.