In many states, building codes – including code-intended model energy efficiency standards like ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 – are adopted, with or without amendment, on a regular cycle. These cycles are usually based upon the publication of the new editions of codes and standards; in the case of Standard 90.1 (and most other codes and code-intended standards), those published updates occur every three years. Now, however, several state legislatures – including Louisiana, North Carolina, Illinois, and Wisconsin – are examining pushing back those updates or, in some cases, rolling back the codes to earlier versions, with the argument being that code and standard updates are too costly to implement on so frequent a basis.
These proposals are problematic for ASHRAE for several reasons.
Last week President Barack Obama issued his much-anticipated fiscal year 2014 budget request to Congress. While this comprehensive document may ultimately have little influence in Congress, given the partisan divide, it does provide an in-depth look into the Administration’s thoughts, goals, and priorities in a wide range of areas. This is especially important as the Administration is continuing to explore what it can do via Executive action that does not require the approval of Congress to achieve its objectives.
Below are highlights of funding level requests. For additional information please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Energy
- Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: $2,775.7 million (+$995.1 million over current funding levels)
- Building Technologies Office: $300.0 million (+$85.2 million)
Energy Information Administration (administers the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey [CBECS]): $117 million (+$11 million)
- State Energy Program: $57 million (+$7 million)
- Weatherization Assistance Program: $184 million (+$116 million)
- Support for NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility: $20 million (+$20 million)
Federal Energy Efficiency Fund: $10 million (+$10 million)
- Race to the Top for Energy Efficiency and Grid Modernization: $200 million (new program; requires congressional approval; would be a one-time funding award to states)
General Services Administration (GSA)
- Office of Government-wide Policy (includes the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings): $62.5 million (+~$1.5 million)
Department of Education
- STEM Education (overall): $71.2 billion (+$3.1 billion)
Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Legislation Reintroduced in Senate
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act this week. This bill seeks to promote greater energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings and the industrial sector by providing additional technical assistance, enhanced financing mechanisms, improved workforce training, and related activities.
"We don't often get legislation that brings Republicans, Democrats, business, labor and environmental leaders together, but with this bill we have done that," said Senator Shaheen. "Energy efficiency is the fastest, most cost-efficient way to tackle our energy needs and keep our economy competitive all while creating needed and sustainable jobs. Passing this bill would be a clear and quick win for the economy, taxpayers and the environment."
"Washington can seem pretty divided these days, but there are some things on which we can all agree. This bill is one of them - it's good for the economy and good for the environment," said Senator Portman.
This bill was previously introduced in the 112th Congress, and cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with broad bipartisan support. Last year’s bill was supported by over 200 businesses, trade associations, nonprofit groups, and technical societies – including ASHRAE. The newly introduced bill largely mirrors the previous version, although some changes have occurred, partly as a result of several provisions concerning federal agency efficiency being signed into law last December.
For additional information please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at email@example.com
Obama Energy Secretary Nominee Testifies Before Senate Committee
Dr. Ernest Moniz, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), testified before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on April 9th. If confirmed by the Senate, Moniz, who is currently the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering at MIT, would replace Dr. Steven Chu, who is now the longest-serving Secretary of Energy.
While Moniz revealed little about changes he might bring to DOE, you can explore his background, view his testimony, and watch the archived webcast at http://ow.ly/kcvJr.
For additional information please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
House Education and Workforce Committee Reviews State of STEM Education in America
The federal government administers 209 programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, which are located in 13 different agencies, according to a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. This sprawling federal presence in STEM education – and the degree to which these programs are preparing students for high-demand jobs in STEM fields – was the focus of an early April hearing by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
According to one of the witnesses, “There is a widespread concern that our nation’s preeminence in science and innovation is eroding. Only 5 percent of U.S. college graduates major in engineering, compared with 12 percent of European students and 20 percent of those in Asia.” said Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, President and Director of the Museum of Science, Boston.
In order to help change this situation, a more coordinated and strategic effort is needed in STEM education across the federal government, said George Scott, GAO Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues.
Additional information, including an archived webcast, press release, and witness testimony is available at http://ow.ly/kcxDs. Please also contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at email@example.com.