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Building a Green Future for Dallas: City Council's move sends eco-friendly signal

Dallas Morning News
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dallas is going green, as the City Council moves forward with more environmentally friendly building standards.

Council members burnished the city's enviro-credentials when they agreed last week to create a building program that emphasizes energy efficiency and resource conservation.

Mayor Tom Leppert deserves credit for moving quickly to make good on his campaign promise; the council's unanimous support for the resolution sends a strong signal that the mayor is not the only leader who's serious about addressing environmental concerns.

Reducing pollution became a local issue under the leadership of former Mayor Laura Miller, who did battle against proposed coal plants and urged the council to develop strategies to improve Dallas' air quality. Mr. Leppert, a former construction company CEO, has continued the push to attack a global issue at the city level.

Dallas joins a long list of cities across the country that, in the absence of federal or state mandates, are developing their own environmental policies. Political will has been lacking in Washington and in Austin, as many elected officials have been unwilling to take even small steps toward reducing energy consumption and combating greenhouse gas emissions. Dallas council members wisely recognized that it's possible to develop standards that are good for business - and for the environment. Recent studies have found that green construction costs less to operate, has higher occupancy rates and increases building values.

The city already had incorporated sustainable practices into its own building projects, and extending green standards to the private sector is the next logical step.

The council still must finalize the details of the program after City Manager Mary Suhm makes her recommendations in coming months. But last week's vote suggests that Dallas leaders will take an aggressive approach to eco-friendly policies. Let's hope that green building standards are just the beginning.

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