11/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Green Government Is Not a Partisan Issue

This month the state of New York enacted the State Green Building
Construction Act when Governor David A. Patterson signed the
legislation, which was voted on this past June.  This new law mandates
that all new government-owned buildings and facilities must meet strict
green building guidelines; this goes for major renovations as well. 
The state's Office of General Services (OGS) will be responsible for
drafting new green building standards for these buildings.

The OGS has actually been active in green building construction over
the past five years by adhering to LEED status for all of its projects.
 The office also has 31 LEED-accredited designers and assigns one to
each of its new projects.  Considering that many states and cities
across the nation have already enacted similar legislation, including
the country's largest 40 cities, this may seem like old news.

However, what is becoming quite clear is that going green is no longer
a fringe or even partisan issue.  The real story is how the vote for
the New York State Green Building Construction Act went down.  It was
soundly bipartisan—the final vote in the Assembly was unanimous (139-0)
and nearly unanimous in the New York State Senate (55-2).

Politics today is polarized, especially in the federal government.  It
is rare to see any kind of compromise, regardless of the purpose.  So
when you see this kind of vote in the New York State legislature, which
is not immune to disfunction, a bigger picture begins to emerge. 
Politicians must find it difficult to go home and tell their families,
"Sorry, I didn't vote for greener and healthier buildings today."  This
goes beyond politics and the status quo of "no."  It means that the
message of environmental sensitvity is breaking through at all levels
of goverment.  What were the two who didn't vote for this bill

Jonathan A. Schein is the publisher of and