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Government Affairs
 

Government Affairs Update, 03-07-14

Federal Activities

 

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

  • Arizona
  • Chicago
  • North Carolina
  • Mexico
 

Federal Activities

For additional information on federal issues, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at mames@ashrae.org.

House Passes Energy Efficiency Legislation

This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (H.R.2126). Demonstrating the widespread appeal of energy efficiency, this bill was approved by a vote of 375 to 36, with nearly equal numbers of Republicans (191) and Democrats (184) supporting the measure.

Notably, this bill was sponsored and led by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) – one of the few professional engineers in Congress – and Peter Welch (D-VT). Congressman McKinley and Welch are the Co-Chairs of the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus, which serves to as a coordination mechanism for buildings-related legislation in the House. The Caucus is supported by the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC).

Co-Chaired by ASHRAE and IAPMO, the HPBCCC is a private sector coalition of over 200 building community stakeholders that works with the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus to educate federal policymakers on the importance of high-performance buildings and how to achieve and promote them.

Earlier this week, the HPBCCC helped educate Members of Congress on the importance of energy efficiency by sending a sign-on letter to all House offices in support of this bill.

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act represents a package of four other bills. This bill would create new requirements for grid-enabled water heaters, and help building owners and tenants overcome the split incentives of energy efficiency upgrades, in part by creating a voluntary new “Tenant Star” program. This program would provide tenants with recognition for efficiency improvements, similar to the current ENERGY STAR program for whole buildings.

The bill would also promote energy efficiency in federal data centers by requiring federal agencies to work with experts and key stakeholders to develop strategies and best practices for the use, maintenance, and procurement of energy saving information technologies.

Lastly, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act would improve federal building energy benchmarking by requiring federally leased space in buildings that have not received an ENERGY STAR label to be benchmarked by an online, free benchmarking program. The U.S. Department of Energy would also be required to conduct a study on the impact of state and local performance benchmarking and disclosure policies and associated building efficiency policies for commercial and multifamily buildings. This study would identify best practice policies that have resulted in the greatest improvements in building energy efficiency.

The House will likely now take a break from energy efficiency legislation to allow time for the Senate to consider this bill, as well as its own bill – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.2074), which was recently reintroduced (more on that in the next section). 

Senators Reintroduce Energy Efficiency Bill, Hoping to Broaden Support

Last week, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced their Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.2074), also known as Shaheen-Portman. The new bill incorporates ten bipartisan amendments that are intended to broaden support among Democrats and Republicans. According to analysis conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, as a result of these changes, if enacted, this bill would support more than 190,000 net jobs in 2030, result in cumulative net savings of almost $100 billion from 2014 to 2030, and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 650 metric tons. Shaheen-Portman would accomplish all while being fully offset, and creating no new mandates.

The bill was reintroduced with the support of several key Senators, including: Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Al Franken (D-MN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and John Hoeven (R-ND).

The new version of Shaheen-Portman would:

  • Support energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy installations in schools.
  • Establish a voluntary certification and recognition program called “Tenant Star” that would promote efficiency in leased commercial spaces.
  • Promote energy efficiency in federal data centers.
  • Help homeowners by including a home’s expected energy cost savings when determining the value and affordability of energy efficient homes.

Notably, Shaheen-Portman includes provisions similar to those in the House-passed Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (H.R.2126) – notably the sections on Tenant Star and energy efficient federal data centers – potentially setting the stage for negotiations between the House and Senate if the Senate passes Shaheen-Portman.

To-date, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act has garnered strong bipartisan support in the Senate, yet the old questions remain – can Senate Leadership obtain agreements from Senators to not use debate on this bill as an opportunity to advance their own, unrelated priorities, such as health care reform? And given the shortened legislative year due to the mid-term elections, will there be enough time on the calendar to bring this to the floor, or will other issues soak up time, forcing proponents to wait until next year?

 

President Obama Submits FY 2015 Budget Request to Congress 

Earlier this week President Barak Obama sent his budget request for fiscal year 2015 to Congress, touching off what is affectionately known in Washington, DC as budget season, starting a series of debates in Congress that will theoretically end with the enactment of several funding bills. Although it is rare that the annual appropriations process goes as planned, the President’s budget nevertheless serves as an important benchmark for nearly all funding discussions to come this year.

ASHRAE’s Government Affairs Office staff are busy going through the President’s voluminous budget, but below are a few key highlights from programs of interest to ASHRAE in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Look for additional updates on the ASHRAeXCHANGE under the “Government Affairs” and “U.S. Congress & Federal Affairs” Topical Discussions links.

Building Technologies Program (umbrella for several programs listed below)

FY 2015 Request: $211,700,000

FY 2014 Enacted: $177,868,000

FY 2015 Request vs. FY 2014 Enacted: +$33,832,000; +19%

The Building Technologies Office leads a network of research and industry partners to continually develop innovative, cost-effective energy-saving solutions for homes and buildings. Additional information available at http://ow.ly/ujXkE
 
Commercial Building Integration

FY 2015 Request: $28,000,000

FY 2014 Enacted: $30,782,000

FY 2015 Request vs. FY 2014 Enacted: -$2,782,000; -9.0%

This program encourages greater investment in energy efficiency across all commercial sectors through the development of common data structures, tools, and processes. The program also seeks to broaden the use of DOE’s Commercial Energy Asset Score, and assist Better Building industry partner organizations in demonstrating 2% per year portfolio-wide energy savings.
 
Equipment and Building Standards

FY 2015 Request: $69,000,000

FY 2014 Enacted: $55,840,000

FY 2015 Request vs. FY 2014 Enacted: +$13,160,000; +23.6%

This area includes support for DOE’s activities in the development, adoption, and compliance of building energy codes and standards. Additional information is available at http://ow.ly/uk19L
 
Pennsylvania State University Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub

FY 2015 Request: $10,000,000

FY 2014 Enacted: $9,994,000

FY 2015 Request vs. FY 2014 Enacted: +$6,000; +0.06%

Headquartered at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the EEB Hub performs research and develops technologies and tools to optimize whole building energy performance. ASHRAE is a charter partner of the Hub, participating in meetings, workshops, and other activities. Additional information is available at http://www.cbei.psu.edu/.

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

For additional information on international, state, and local government affairs, please contact Jim Scarborough, ASHRAE’s Manager of Grassroots Government Affairs, at jscarborough@ashrae.org.

Arizona

In our last issue of the Update, we reported that Arizona Senate Bill 1227 would prohibit all cities and counties in the state from adopting any energy codes, though it would not repeal any that are already in place.  This has been a controversial piece of legislation in the state as Arizona has home rule. This legislation is opposed by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. ASHRAE’s two chapters in Arizona wrote a joint letter to the state Senate, in opposition to the bill. The bill has passed the Senate (though not unanimously) and has been sent to the Arizona House. To view the legislation, go to http://ow.ly/uk2iy.
 
Chicago

ASHRAE President Bill Bahnfleth has written the City of Chicago urging the inclusion of ASHRAE’s Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP) and Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP) certifications for the provision of services required by Chicago’s new Energy Benchmarking Ordinance. The Illinois Chapter and its GGAC Chair, Benny Skelton, have been active in promoting these certifications with the City.
 
North Carolina

The North Carolina Building Code Council is scheduled to meet again on March 11. It is likely the Council will discuss the possibility of moving to a six-year cycle for building codes. Apparently the NC press has taken an interest in this issue as well and plans to have representation at the meeting. For more information or to contact the NCBCC, go to http://ow.ly/uk2mB.
 
Mexico

GGAC RVC Jon Symko (Region VIII) reports that the Mexico City Chapter is providing consultation and assistance to government authorities in Mexico to develop a climate change act to assist in that area. There is a national registry of admissions that they are working with and RVC Symko will provide the PowerPoint presentation developed by the Chapter Chair to help engage government authorities. Once received, that presentation will be posted on the ASHRAE GGAC webpage.