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Editorial: Green building in Dallas

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dallas Morning News

Council should pass 'green building' ordinance

Today, the Dallas City Council has the chance to take aim at the largest contributor to climate change.

The culprits aren't coal plants or diesel engines or the cars that clog our highways. Actually, buildings produce almost half of greenhouse gas emissions.

And now council members have the opportunity to reduce the harm that Dallas' commercial and residential structures do to the environment. A proposed ordinance on today's agenda would phase in a "green building" program, requiring new construction to use less water and power.

This council has made global warming a local issue with its aggressive approach to reducing energy consumption and conserving resources. By adopting these new standards, council members can affirm Dallas' commitment to forward-thinking, environmentally friendly policies.

Mayor Tom Leppert pledged to develop a green building program during last spring's campaign, and he's moved swiftly to make good on that promise. City leaders sought input from developers and builders in crafting the proposed policy, and the result is an ordinance that sets reasonable targets.

Council members are expected to offer their stamp of approval. We hope they go even further: dealing with the more complex challenge of green standards for existing buildings. In a city that's approaching build-out, it's essential to create efficiency guidelines for all structures.

Dallas' efforts to mandate green building should serve as a model for other North Texas cities. They would be wise to adopt the same efficiency standards and work to create a seamless set of guidelines that cross city limits. Otherwise, developers and builders will rightly complain about a patchwork quilt of building standards.

To its credit, though, Dallas is leading the way when it comes to going green.

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