Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
There are two issues I'd like to touch on briefly, with about equal time for each one. The first is the federal buildings initiative. I've been involved with it since 1993 and have been frustrated since then at the poor progress. You say that roughly one-third of the square footage has been affected or improved. But the program is really focused on what we call the low-hanging fruit—the easiest, simplest things, such as changing the ballasts in the fluorescents or something. There has been very little comprehensive building envelope energy retrofit work that will really bring down the operating costs. That's my first criticism.
We were hoping back then that we could show the world—or at least show the private sector—the incredible savings that can be realized through comprehensive energy retrofitting of our publicly owned buildings. It just hasn't happened, and I think it's been a real failure, personally, given the number of buildings in which we've had any real building envelope structural changes—green roofs, new window systems.... Changing the light bulbs and such stuff isn't a comprehensive energy retrofit. That's my first observation.
The second thing I'd like you to comment on is asbestos. April 1 is Asbestos Disease Awareness Day, something I'm very involved in. We have pretty much littered all of our public buildings with Canadian asbestos. These Parliament Buildings are no different.
In 2006, I believe it was, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources actually passed a unanimous report urging that we use more asbestos in our public buildings domestically and find new markets for it abroad, because we're still the second largest producer and exporter of asbestos in the world, and I guess the Canadian government is proud of it. In actual fact, we're rendering our public buildings unfit for human habitation by littering our buildings with this asbestos.
I know the LEED system does not allow the use of asbestos, so I'm wondering how many billions of dollars it is going to take. If you're going to earn any kind of LEED standard, you have to make the building safe, and that means getting the Canadian asbestos out of the rafters.
Do you see this as a barrier, first of all, to getting that kind of accreditation? And secondly, have you or has your department dealt recently with this government directive to use more asbestos, at the very point in time when the rest of the world is banning asbestos in all of its forms?