The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for public comments on its methodology for assessing compliance with building energy codes at the local, state, and national levels. The Department is seeking feedback on a wide variety of questions, including:
- How should DOE define compliance with energy codes?
- What are the barriers to achieving compliance?
- What metrics should be used for measuring compliance?
- Do residential and commercial compliance evaluation studies require fundamentally different sampling plans and research methodologies?
- How could incentive funding be used to facilitate states to increase energy code adoption and compliance efforts?
- Is there a role DOE could play to support third-party evaluators?
Comments and information may be submitted to DOE on or before September 5, 2013. To view the full request for comments, which includes supplementary information, please visit (PDF) http://ow.ly/nKHW8.
The winding road of national energy efficiency legislation has taken another turn. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (also known as Shaheen-Portman for its Senate sponsors) is widely considered to be the most important energy efficiency bill in nearly a decade, and is now scheduled to be debated as a first order of business when the U.S. Senate returns from its August recess in September. The Senate had previously planned to begin debate on this bill prior to their recess, but ran out of time due to fiscal year 2014 funding issues for transportation, housing, and urban development, and the need to confirm appointments to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Labor Relations Board.
Just before leaving, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a new version of their bill, which is now referenced as S.1392 (it was previously S.761). The new version is largely similar to that which cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with wide bipartisan support. Some of the biggest changes include the deletion of Title II, the Commercial Building Efficiency Financing Initiative, which was taken out to allow the bill to move forward and provide additional time for consensus to develop. Also among the changes was the addition of a new career skills program under Title I, which would provide grants to nonprofit partnerships who provide on-the-job training for obtaining industry-related certifications to install energy efficient buildings technologies.
The building energy codes section of the bill has not been changed.
In addition to the changes incorporated into S.1392, several amendments could be added to the bill, including the following:
- All-of-the-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act (S.1199) – Would change fossil fuel energy consumption reduction requirements, and add new energy efficiency provisions for federal buildings.
- Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act (S.717) – Would establish a pilot program to award grants to nonprofit organizations for energy efficiency retrofits.
- Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (S.1084) – Would establish the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, and local assistance provided to promote the energy retrofitting of schools.
- Better Buildings Act (S.1191) (also known as Tenant Star) – Would build on the success of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR for Buildings program and establish a voluntary new “Tenant Star” program to certify leased spaces in buildings as energy efficient.
While the Senate will begin debate on Shaheen-Portman in September, the chances of completing debate and passing the bill may be slim because of rumors of several controversial amendments that may be offered, and another big factor – time.
When Members of Congress return to Washington, they will have a mere 16 days to complete work on the 12 annual funding bills (none of which have been enacted) before the 2014 fiscal year begins on October 1st, or pass a continuing resolution, which would keep government spending at about current levels. Congress will also be faced with the often highly-charged issue of raising the debt ceiling. Both of these issues trump debate over Shaheen-Portman and could cause significant delays in the bill’s consideration and possible passage.
On the other side of the Capitol, the House has been, and will likely continue waiting for the Senate to act before moving on their version of Shaheen-Portman, known as McKinley-Welch (H.R.1616).
For additional information, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing that probed the question – what should the nation’s tax system look like, and what are the principles of energy tax reform that can be used to build consensus?
Buildings and energy efficiency were topics of several witnesses, which included:
- The Honorable Christopher A. Coons, United States Senator, State of Delaware
- The Honorable Jerry Moran, United States Senator, State of Kansas
- Phyllis Cuttino, Director, Clean Energy, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC
- Dan Reicher, Executive Director,Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy, Finance at Stanford University, Professor, Stanford Law School, Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford, CA
- Will Coleman, Partner, OnRamp Capital, San Francisco, CA
- Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation, Washington, DC
To view an archived webcast of the hearing and access witness testimony, please visit http://ow.ly/nKHRO.