U.S. Senate Debates National Defense Bill
After a nearly five month respite, last week the Senate resumed consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 (S.1197). Like so many bills, work recommenced with a torrent of activity – over 400 amendments have been introduced since last week, with more expected.
The NDAA authorizes (but doesn’t directly provide) funding for Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy national security programs – including the design, construction, operation and maintenance of military facilities.
ASHRAE is interested in this bill and the work of DOD for several reasons: DOD is the single largest building owner in the U.S., and in March of this year DOD incorporated ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, into their Unified Facilities Criteria. Additionally, the Army began using Standard 189.1 in fiscal year 2013.
The NDAA is a bill that Congress annually approves. In years past, legislative and report language has been included in the NDAA that would have restricted the government’s use of Standard 189.1. No such language ever made it into law, and no such amendments have been offered to the current NDAA in either the House or Senate. However, there are current restrictions in place on the use of DOD funds to obtain LEED Gold or Platinum Certifications. These restrictions will be lifted after DOD provides Congress with requested policy guidance, as noted in the report language of the House-passed version of the NDAA (H.R.1960). The Senate version of the NDAA currently does not contain LEED certification prohibitions, however at least one such amendment is likely to be offered.
For additional information, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at email@example.com.
Federal Government's Role in STEM Education, Research Examined at Congressional Hearing
Research, competitiveness, and workforce development in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) were the focus of a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing last week. The specific focus of the hearing was to receive expert witness feedback on the Committee’s draft Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act. This bill would reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and improve coordination among federal STEM education programs.
Notably, among the witnesses was James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition, of which ASHRAE is a member. The Coalition is an alliance of over 500 professional, education, and business organizations that seeks to promote STEM education policies at every level.
ASHRAE Government Affairs Office staff are preparing a detailed summary of the draft legislation, and will include a link to the summary in an upcoming version of the Update. In the meantime, the draft bill can be viewed here. The archived webcast of the hearing and witness testimony are available here.
Data Center Energy Efficiency Addressed by Congress at Capitol Hill Briefing
Members of Congress and industry leaders gathered together on Capitol Hill earlier this week to discuss the prescient need to improve data center energy efficiency. The focus was the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act (H.R.540), a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Mike Rogers (R-MI) that would help make federal data centers for energy efficient by:
- Establishing performance goals for federal data centers that include overall targets, benchmarks, and specifications for energy efficiency and energy savings.
- Recommendations and best practices for how the benchmarks may be attained.
- Requiring federal agencies to develop and implement a strategy for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy efficient and energy savings information and communications technologies and practices.
- Establishing a Government-wide Data Centers Task Force that would be charged with identifying and exchanging best practices, and working with the private sector to improve federal data center energy efficiency.
ASHRAE has informed Representative Eshoo and other leading Members of Congress of the Society’s development of Standard 90.4P, Energy Standard for Data Centers and Telecommunications Buildings, and is exploring opportunities for either referencing the forthcoming standard in the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act or otherwise being of technical assistance as the important issue of data center energy efficiency is further considered by Congress.
National Stakeholders and Congressional Leaders Join to Celebrate & Urge Action On Energy Efficiency
Leaders in the U.S. House and Senate joined together with energy efficiency advocates earlier this week to remind Congress of the overwhelming support among federal policymakers and throughout the country for improving efficiency and doubling energy productivity by 2030. The event is called the Great Energy Efficiency Day (GEED), and featured presentations and inspirational talks from a number of high-level speakers, including:
- Dr. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
- Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in EERE
- Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
- Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
- Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX)
- Representative David McKinley (R-WV)
Among the major topics discussed was the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.1392), commonly known as Shaheen-Portman. This bill is the most prominent energy efficiency measure working its way through Congress right now (additional information on Shaheen-Portman can be found here). Negotiations are ongoing regarding which amendments may be offered to the bill when it comes to the Senate floor again, which is likely to occur early next year.
GEED is an annual event organized by the Alliance to Save Energy, which represents over 150 businesses and organizations who are committed to advancing energy efficiency – including ASHRAE. For additional information on GEED and the Alliance, please visit http://www.ase.org/events/2013-great-energy-efficiency-day