A Big (Green) Kiss for Patrick; Because He Needs It

Governor Deval Patrick has been getting generally flogged this week for his casino building proposal, so with all the negative attention, we thought we’d highlight a less noticed aspect of his legislation that might even impress Tim Cahill. Buried inside the legislation (page 17 on our printout) is a clause stipulating that the casinos must be able to earn at least a “Gold” rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design) building certification system.

In other words, break out the solar panels, Ma, we’re hittin’ the slots!

(Disclaimer: Of course, the best thing for the environment would be to not build the casinos, but since this is casino-building legislation…)

The LEED has four levels of green certification, which range from (lowest to highest): certified, silver, gold, and platinum. In their seven years of existence, the council has accredited 1,097 buildings and labeled 377 as certified, 356 as silver, 306 as gold, and just 55 as platinum. To put it another way, just under a third of the buildings they’ve examined have passed muster for “gold.”

That’s a pretty high standard for Patrick to set, especially considering that building operators and owners that ask the LEED to inspect their places are already environmentally inclined. A green building can reduce energy use by 30 to 50 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 38 percent, water use by 40, and solid waste by 70 percent, according to Ashley Katz, Communications Coordinator at the U.S. Green Building Council.

“It’s great,” Katz said. “It’s reducing the building’s impact on the environment and becoming a leader in your area for sustainable building processes. Especially in the casino realm, because that’s relatively new.”

When evaluating buildings, Katz said LEED considers the building site, proximity to public transportation, efficient water usage, building materials, indoor air quality, renewable energy use, and many other factors.

Katz said the would-be casinos would score points for indoor air quality because the legislation stipulates a non-smoking environment. More certification credit would be given from clause demanding that all electrical equipment and appliances meet EPA efficiency standards, and yet more for the one stating “the casino shall procure 10 percent of its annual electricity consumption from renewable sources,” which, according to LEED standards, is a strong percentage.

Whether these prospective green casinos ever get built is still an open question, especially if Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi has anything to say about it. In the meantime, though, Governor, we thought we’d give you at least something (anything) to feel good about this week.