Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 6, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Green Building

  |   Video
  • Currently in development, the International Green Construction Code will guide the future of sustainable, more energy efficient, buildings. Learn about the “green code” from local experts Anthony Floyd of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program and architect Phil Weddle, President of the American Institute of Architects Phoenix Metro Chapter.
Guests:
  • Anthony Floyd - Scottsdale’s Green Building Program
  • Phil Weddle - President, American Institute of Architects Phoenix Metro Chapter
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: green, sustainability,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Take a look around our state and you'll see some of the best examples of green building our nation has to offer. Is it a fad or a growing trend toward healthier, energy efficient, and more sustainable buildings? Part of the answer may lie in the green building code that's being developed by the international code council. It's a set of rules and policies that will guide the design of future sustainable buildings. The green code gets a final hearing later this year in Phoenix. Here to talk about it and some of Arizona's best examples of green building are Anthony Floyd, the city of Scottsdale's green building program manager, and Philip Weddle, president of the Phoenix metro chapter of the American institute of architects. Good to see you both here, thanks for joining us. Green construction code. What is this designed to do?

Anthony Floyd: Well the official name of it is the international green construction code and it is designed to create a baseline standard for green building. There are other rating systems out there, such as LEED and other programs nationally and locally, that has points associated with it. A code does not have points. And so just like the building code has minimum baseline requirement, the green building code has green baseline requirements.

Ted Simons: So is that a reason why you think this would be necessary?

Philip Weddle: I think one of the things that's really important about the international green construction code is the fact that it really reestablishes a minimum threshold. The other rating systems that are much more prevalent now, the LEED system, for example, are essentially all voluntary systems. And the IGCC has an opportunity to create a minimum threshold that is a requirement of all buildings that are constructed, and I think that's really an important measure as we try and move towards carbon neutrality in our new buildings.

Ted Simons: Am I hearing that this code would perhaps integrate all other codes into one umbrella?

Philip Weddle: That's the way that’s it's developed, it's developed in partnership with the other international codes, so it would be an integrated approach that would be developed with all of the other ICC codes.

Anthony Floyd: It's design -- its design is an overlay code. It's not replacing the building code and the electrical, plumbing, mechanical, it's designed to work in conjunction with those existing codes.

Ted Simons: So what would be emphasized now in putting this particular code together? You take a little bit of all the existing codes and find some sort of agreement here, what goes on?

Anthony Floyd: Well, it's based upon rating systems such as LEED, and so it's similar categories, energy, water efficiency, building materials and resources, sustainable sites, those are the major pillars of green building for all green building programs. So what the green building code is doing is codifying that. It's creating in code language minimum requirements for energy efficiency. For water savings. For better indoor environmental quality.

Ted Simons: And I know that you were involved with the Rio Salado Audubon Center, which has won all sorts of awards and I want to look at that, as we look at this, tell us how this particular Audubon Center, how does it follow code? What are we looking at here as far as the code in the future?

Philip Weddle: Well the Rio Salado Audubon Center was developed utilizing the LEED rating system, and it actually achieved a LEED platinum certification, which is the highest certification available. It -- the project some of the key features were about habitat restoration, we planted over 4,000 plants, trees, and cacti on the site to restore the native habitat from a water conservation standpoint, the project utilizes an on-site wastewater treatment system that we are then able to capture and reuse that water for irrigation. That saves about 250 to 300,000 gallons of water per year. We also have a P.V. array system that generates about 40 to 50% of the annual energy demands. Those are some of the big steps that project took towards sustainable design.

Ted Simons: In the city of Scottsdale, now, the Appaloosa Library is another point you want to talk about here.

Anthony Floyd: Yes.

Ted Simons: We're going to look at this as well. Again, how would this follow code?

Anthony Floyd: Well, first of all, Scottsdale is committed to green building. We passed a resolution in 2005 to require all city facilities to meet the legal level of certification. As a voluntary program we made a mandate out of it for a city facilities. So the code is designed for the private sector primarily for commercial projects in the community. And the Appaloosa Library is a good benchmark for how the international green construction code will work. And the Appaloosa Library achieved a LEED gold level of certification, and it was designed by local architects Doug Sydnor and DWL Architects, and it has solar, highly efficient daylighting, it reduces heat effect, because the parking is actually decomposed granite, and there's preferred parking for hybrid vehicles and low – or high-efficiency vehicles, low emission vehicles. So those are just some examples, energy monitoring system, controls, better indoor air quality, that's a benchmark for what will be in the green building code.

Ted Simons: A benchmark as well I would imagine would be the gateway, which you were involved with as well. A benchmark in terms of again, public places and public buildings, these sorts of things?

Philip Weddle: Right. The gateway is another project that we had developed utilizing the LEED system with the city of Scottsdale, received a LEED platinum certification. The project had a strong emphasis on habitat preservation, we actually had a group of volunteers from the McDowell Conservancy and other corporate sponsors who salvaged over 1500 cacti on the site and replanted them. We had 4200 hours of volunteer time log order that project. The project is also net zero energy, meaning that we're generating as much energy on site as we need for this facility to operate. And we're also capturing rain water harvesting in underground cisterns that we are able to capture about 50 to 60,000 gallons of water per year and reuse that for landscape irrigation.

Ted Simons: Let's get back to the code now that we've seen these buildings. They're beautiful buildings and structures, obviously they would pass whatever code comes out in the final time wash here, but who decides on the code, and who decides who decides?

Anthony Weddle: Well, usually it's recommended by the building official to adopt codes and has to go to city council, so ultimately it's up to city council to adopt a building code. That would include the international green construction code. And Scottsdale, we're on a schedule to use this beginning as voluntary code. So we would like to get some experience with this over the next year or two as a voluntary code, and we would work on having incentives so it would be similar to the green building programs, which we have in Scottsdale. But we would be using the international green construction code as that gauge for measuring the greenness of private sector projects. And in 2012 we're looking perhaps to adopt a new family of codes. Every three years a building code is published, and in 2012 that's when the new international green construction code will be published. And it's that at that time we will evaluate whether it needs to remain voluntary or mandatory. And ultimately that's a city council decision.

Ted Simons: From a distance when I hear about codes, I don't necessarily hear the word voluntary. It's got to be enforced or else it's not much of a code. Talk to us about that particular dynamic and how this thing would be enforced.

Philip Weddle: Well I think from the American Institute of Architects' perspective, we would actually like to see it be a mandatory requirement, because buildings in this country represent about 40% of the carbon emissions on an annual basis. They represent about 65-70% of the electricity consumption in our country. We feel like it's really important that we work and strive to try and reduce the -- those numbers and try to create more efficient buildings. And we really see that the international green construction code is an important factor in doing that.

Ted Simons: But if you do have the cooperation from international folks, state of California, maybe the city of Scottsdale, maybe some other smaller municipalities, what happens if -- a major city says, I don't think so. I'm not so sure this is all that big of a deal. What happens if the state of Arizona says we don't want any part of this? Which is very likely to happen. Again, how do you get the rubber to meet the road here?

Anthony Floyd: Well, it's interesting to note that the city of Phoenix is also looking at and evaluating the international green construction code. For now they will use it as voluntary code, but they plan to go to city council in June of this year, is my understanding, for it to become effective in July. That will use it as a voluntary code. But that's when we can assess and evaluate, determine whether it's viable as a mandatory code. We won't know until we have that experience. So 2012 is another year, it depends on where the economy is, and where the political climate is.

Ted Simons: Indeed. Talk about architects and the challenges facing architects. Some of whom may never have touched anything remotely like what is being called for in that code.

Philip Weddle: Well, I think it's an important evolution in the profession that everyone needs to get up to speed with that. And I think the most architects have been doing that. Some of the voluntary programs like LEED, for example, have done a lot to move the industry in that direction. And I really see that the IGCC is just a next evolution of that.

Ted Simons: What do you see as far as architects and trying to convince them or teach them to get on board?

Anthony Floyd: I think it's a national -- a natural progression. If we look at the provisions in building codes today, such as energy efficiency, or even ADA accessibility, water efficiency, 10, 15, 20 years ago that was not a part of building codes. Building codes has evolved -- have evolved over the last hundred years, and I think as the society has become more sophisticated, knowledgeable, we understand our impact, the codes evolve with that and I think that's what's happening. We're moving into a next level of the building codes.

Ted Simons: It's been described as a game-changer in sustainable building. Do you agree?

Philip Weddle: I would agree that it shifts the baseline expectation, and I think that's really an important shift that needs to happen.

Ted Simons: Do you see that as well?

Anthony Floyd: Oh, yes. For sure. Also I think it will require not only architects to be educated, but also cities, building inspectors, plan reviewers, because it will be-- a part of that process verification and enforcing and determining whether there should be third party inspectors or in-house inspectors, all those things have to be worked out.

Ted Simons: What kind of timetable now are we looking at? I know Phoenix is the spot for later in the year. Give us a sense.

Anthony Floyd: We're looking at second quarter to implement the voluntary program in Scottsdale for commercial buildings. So it's voluntary, it won't be enforced or required for anyone to follow, but there are builders out there and developers who like the recognition for their project, and this is -- could be an alternative to LEED, the LEED rating system, if they don't want to go platinum or gold, they want to go with something more comfortable at a lower level, they can follow the green building code.

Ted Simons: Last question, is Arizona considered a leader in this sort of thing? Because I see a lot of these buildings out there, we've done programs on LEED certified and green buildings and these sorts of things, seems like there's a lot of stuff going on here in Arizona. Is that accurate?

Philip Weddle: There's definitely been I think a very strong level of design among the architectural community in Arizona. They've been recognized as leaders in design in the southwest, and I think that the environmental design that's been developed here is just another aspect of that. So certainly there has been center strong leadership here in the community.

Ted Simons: Do you hear that as well that Arizona is a leader in this sort of thing? Or do we still have a ways to go?

Anthony Floyd: I think we have a ways to go as a state. We could look at individual communities, but not as a state.

Ted Simons: Alright well good stuff. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us we appreciate it.

State Health Care

  |   Video
  • How state budget cuts are impacting services provided by AHCCCS, Arizona's Medicaid program, and how health providers can adapt to the changes. Guests include Banner Health CEO Peter Fine and Dr. Leonard Kirschner, President of AARP Arizona and a former director of AHCCCS.
Guests:
  • Peter Fine - CEO, Banner Health
  • Dr. Leonard Kirschner - President, AARP Arizona
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: health,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The state's budget crisis is hitting health care especially hard. 47,000 kids of working poor parents lost their health insurance when the state cut kids care. Medicaid patients waiting for life-saving organ transplants were taken off the list and hospitals are hemorrhaging from cuts to AHCCCS. With more cuts ahead the search is on for new ways to meet Arizona's health care needs in this difficult economic climate. Here to talk about this is Peter Fine, president and CEO of banner health Arizona’s largest hospital system, and Dr. Leonard Kirschner, the president of AARP Arizona and a former director of AHCCCS. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. The impact of the budget crunch on health care providers, what are you seeing out there?

Peter Fine: What we're doing right now, obviously, is preparing for the worst. And hopefully that won't happen, but logically we know there has to be some changes in the process and in the system that exists today. It's unaffordable, and the growth of AHCCCS has become so great, that it's becoming just a substantial program to support in today's framework. Right now certainly at banner we're gearing up for substantial changes in reimbursement coming from AHCCCS, and that's a program that's paying us maybe 70 cents on a dollar of cost right now. And to have significantly greater budget cuts to come from that is quite distressing, but we're going to respond and react to that as best we can.

Ted Simons: I want to talk about how that response might be, but again, overall, the impact, what are you seeing out there?

Leonard Kirschner: There's no question that health care is so critical to our economy, and our people. There's been a growth area, and AHCCCS has been an incredible success. We were the last Medicaid program. We were last. We started in 1982. And we have provided health care system that is unique, that other states have emulated, we did think out of the box. And Peter, we were talking that that's the way we have to start looking as we go forward. As we're now in the third and fourth decade of this AHCCCS program, it is successful, it has grown dramatically, but understand it is just critical to the future of Arizona for our economy, to the folks that live here.

Ted Simons: For something this critical, how do hospitals, let's start hospitals, how do you adapt? What do you do?

Peter Fine: Well, Obviously you have to get a handle on what the effect of the changes are going to be on you from a reimbursement perspective. You have to factor that into your -- the Services you provide, and decide how you are going to make that up. Clearly there shouldn't be a hidden tax. If AHCCCS dollars are cut, we're going to have to try to find those revenue streams we can't cut from a cost perspective, and then look at insurance companies for premium increases that are going to absolutely have to occur. That's unfortunate, but what bothers me most is people don't recognize that significant cuts in a very, very successful program and one that has significant funding that comes from the federal government for every dollar that we put in really is not the place to look for reductions in service or reductions in what needs to be provided.

Ted Simons: Reductions -- go ahead.

Leonard Kirschner: Peter, I'm looking for somebody that will give me a 200% return on my money. I can't find it, but the reality is, just basically for AHCCCS, for every dollar we put into the system, we get $2 from the federal government. Turning your back on that, and this money doesn't go in a hole, this money pays for people, for salaries, for buildings, and it is the robust -- these are the good jobs we want. So it is fool hardy to turn our back on that.

Ted Simons: And yet we will have lawmakers on this program at this desk in those chairs telling me it's great, to spend one dollar to make two, we don't have the $1 to spend.

Leonard Kirschner: I would argue there are ways of looking at that. We have had that discussion before, as we've gone through other budget issues, when I was AHCCCS director for those seven years, we had a similar problem. But we didn't turn our back in that, perhaps because Bob Usdane was there, and he was one of the great believers in the AHCCS program. And it's so sad to see that he has passed away.

Peter Fine: This is actually one of the more successful AHCCCS programs that you'll find in the country. It has been well run, it has been well designed, it has been well organized, the problem isn’t that the AHCCCS program is bad, the problem is that we have had growth in members in AHCCCS, as a result of the economic environment. If you look at the charts in the growth of AHCCCS since 2007, that's really been the driver. And to make short-term decisions that really don't really make sense from a long-term perspective, can be quite destructive. I've heard discussions from members of the legislature that have even thought about doing away with the AHCCCS program. That's -- an $11 billion with $7 billion dollars of it coming from the federal government.

Ted Simons: But I do want to get back now to some new ideas and out of the box ideas, but back -- the same question to you again, short-term ideas that just don't seem to make sense, folks are saying, those short-term ideas are necessary because there is no money. The state just can't do it.

Leonard Kirschner: I’ll throw out, you had the town hall for the last town hall, in November here yesterday, but we met in Prescott a couple of years ago, and talked about health care. We must do better delivering accessible, affordable county health care to all Arizonans. Put out 10 proposals that we suggest the legislature look at. We met with some of them just recently, and talked about, this document is on their website, it's available -- I would be happy to sit down with anyone, and it lays out the bigger picture. Not just the budget for this fiscal year, next fiscal year, but a way to look at making our system far more productive, efficient, and equitable.

Peter Fine: When people are stressed because of short-term budgetary issues, they make in many cases irrational decisions for long-term benefit. And I think that's what we're being faced with. The pressures – and this is not something we can sit here and blame legislators for. This -- that would be ludicrous to even think like that. What we have though is people that are reacting to short-term problems, very intensive problems, and many times will make decisions that aren't in the best long-term interests of the state.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about some decisions that might be a little bit out of a box, maybe a little bit innovative and long-term as well. An idea that you seem to be promoting or seem to have talked about is a collaborative effort as far as sharing reimbursements and these sorts of things. What's that all about?

Peter Fine: Well we’ve talked about accountable care organizations being developed in which certain degree of risk is passed on to people to provide Services. And all of the providers come together to provide a level of Service and take accountability for that Service. And it's something that is flowing from the legislation in health care reform in the federal level, and banner has been gearing up very, very aggressively to be able to participate in those programs as they develop.

Ted Simons: Incentivize the idea of sharing, collaborating with this reimbursement?

Leonard Kirschner: Absolutely. But there are lots of issues we can deal with. For example, I'll give you one. Nibbling at the side, not just a billion dollar fix but millions of dollars fix. One of the cost drivers in AHCCCS are head injuries and motorcycle accidents. Now, I've been advocating a helmet law. There's a study that just came out on just that issue. If the legislature would go in and mandate helmets for motorcycle drivers, that would save money. That's a small bite, but there are literally hundreds of small bites we could do-- think through them. And we could actually deal with the system in a much more efficient way.

Ted Simons: Small bites in a sense of cutting admissions by way of better preventive care, cutting readmissions by way of better maintenance, these sorts of things. Is that -- are those small steps, are they bigger steps than we think?

Peter Fine: What you have is a problem that there's no magic bullet. There's no one big step so you have to take little bites at the apple. And you have to do many, many little things that accumulate to significant benefit. What we have is a problem of usage. We don't really have a problem with the cost of health care; we have a problem of usage of health care. The greater the usage the more money is spent and that's what's driving these numbers right now, is the increased usage of Service. So therefore, it behooves to us look at ways to reduce usage of Service. Do things in a smart way, and accountable care organizations tend to have control of a whole process and therefore can look from beginning to end for opportunities to reduce issues.

Leonard Kirschner: Accountable care organizations are clearly coming on the scene across America. But there are different varieties in almost every location. There is no single one accountable care. But it is -- it's a model, but it's a long-term model. It's not going to solve the budget crisis for 2011 or 2012. But we need to look at this really from what do we want as our society? Let me just read quickly, Hubert Humphrey in his last speech before he died. “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children. Those who are in the twilight of life, the aging, and those in the shadows of light the sick, the needy and handicapped.” Let me tell you, that's where AHCCCS works. You cut that, it's not just reimbursement to Peter's group, it is cutting those people. It's cutting the young, the old, the disabled, and that's just not acceptable.

Ted Simons: That is a wonderful speech, and that in its current climate in Arizona is not going to get you too far, because most folks would agree with the sentiment but they would disagree with the way getting there, they want to see more free market, they want to see less big government solutions, can they find it?

Leonard Kirschner: I'm willing to have that argument. Because I do think you look at what they did. They passed the sales tax for education. They passed first things first. I think the people are better than we think they are.

Ted Simons: Are there ways to attack this, to go about this without a big government tag over the process?

Peter Fine: Well, I clearly think there are, but you have to come to recognition. And you have to come to the recognition that you're not going to cost cut your way to solving this problem. There's no way to do that logically, and there's no way to do that in a way that the public at large will accept it. There's a reason the public overwhelmingly approved the sales tax. They have Services that they demanded, that they want and that they don't want cut. We have to recognize and I think the legislature has to recognize, and the executive branch has to recognize and come to a conclusion that you can't cost cut your way to solving this problem. It has to be a balanced approach. You have to look at the revenue side. And there are many ways to go after the revenue side, you just have to be willing to do it and accept it. And there are ways that won't have significant impact on any individual when you can spread it across a big base.

Leonard Kirschner: When I was the director I fought for my budget because I knew that a quality program meant that I to pay the hospitals, the doctors, the pharmacies, the nurses, the nursing homes, properly. That's a cost effective quality program. That's what I think the state of Arizona wants and deserves.

Ted Simons: Gentlemen, thank you very much, great discussion. We appreciate it.

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