The legislature passed a little-noticed measure this session aimed at cutting the energy use in commercial and public buildings.
Experts at the University of Minnesota will set progressively stringent targets for reduced energy use in new and substantially-remodeled buildings.
Sheldon Strom directs the Center for Energy and the Environment. He said saving energy is the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gases.
"If you save energy at a cost of 2 cents a kilowatt hour, it's a lot better than building a coal plant at ten cents a kilowatt hour," said Strom.
He said building to strict conservation standards can pay for itself in five years or less.
The standards are voluntary, but the law directs utilities to help builders achieve them. Utilities are under a mandate to reduce demand for electricity.
Buildings paid for with state bonding money must meet the standards.