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Government Affairs

Government Affairs Update, 06-27-14

Federal Activities


GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

Federal Activities

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

Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act Passed by U.S. House of Representatives

This week is informally known as “energy week” in Congress, during which federal lawmakers focus most of their attention on energy legislation. Among the several bills considered was the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (H.R.4092), which would help improve energy efficiency in schools by creating an online clearinghouse to disseminate information to schools on federal programs and financing mechanisms that may be used to help initiate, develop, and finance energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy retrofitting projects in schools. The House unanimously passed this bill on Monday, June 24.

“I am pleased that the House unanimously passed my legislation and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure swift action is taken,” said the bill’s sponsor, Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA). “The bill is a strategic and cost-saving measure to help relieve the fiscal pressure felt by schools across the country while increasing our energy security.”

The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act was introduced in the Senate last year by Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and was later incorporated into the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.2074), also known as Shaheen-Portman. Shaheen-Portman is currently stalled in the Senate, but may be revived after the November elections.

ASHRAE, along with several other organizations, support both H.R.4092 and S.2074. To view support letters ASHRAE sent to Congress on the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, please click here. For additional information on this bill, please click here.

Bipartisan Bill on Thermal Insulation for Energy and Water Use Systems Approved by U.S. House of Representatives

As part of energy week in Congress, the U.S. House unanimously approved H.R.4801, a bipartisan bill which would require the U.S. Department of Energy to submit a report to Congress on the impact of thermal insulation on both energy and water use systems for potable hot and chilled water in federal buildings, and on the return on investment of installing the insulation.

“My bill is a commonsense approach to making sure the federal government is doing what it can to save taxpayer money and be more efficient with water and energy use,” said Representative Jerry McNerney (D-CA), who sponsored this bill, along with Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). “I’m pleased that members on both sides of the aisle agree on the value of using technology to maximize efficiency in our federal buildings. I am confident the data we gather through this study will help both the public and private sectors invest wisely in energy- and water-saving technologies.”

ASHRAE supports this bill, and signed onto a letter originated by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).


Energy and Water Funding Bill Approved by House Appropriations Committee

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R.4923). Compared to the current fiscal year, overall, this bill would reduce funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by $112.6 million, continue funding for the State Energy Program at $50 million, and increase funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program by $27 million. This bill would also reduce funding for the Building Technologies Program by $12.9 million. It is through the Building Technologies Program that DOE funds many of its building energy codes and standards activities.

While this bill is currently scheduled to be debated on the House floor in July, its companion bill in the Senate has been stalled over disagreements on an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would have temporarily blocked the implementation of EPA’s proposed new rule for fossil fuel-fired power plants. The federal fiscal year ends September 30, and because this issue is unlikely to be resolved in the near future, Congress will likely be forced to enact a continuing resolution that will maintain funding for federal programs at current levels.


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.

EPA Issues Proposed Rule to Cut Carbon Emissions for Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants – Energy Efficiency May Be Used to Comply

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally issued its much-anticipated proposed rule for fossil fuel-fired power plants last week. This lengthy and complex rule sets out greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for states, and would require states to submit a plan for achieving an emission performance level that corresponds to their specific goal. EPA has grouped the multitude of measures states may consider using to achieve their emission performance goals into four “building blocks”, the fourth of which is through the expanded use of demand-side energy efficiency. As EPA explains in the proposed rule: 

“Every state has established demand-side energy efficiency policies, and many stakeholders emphasized the success of these policies in reducing electricity consumption by large amounts… By reducing electricity consumption, energy efficiency avoids greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation. Because fossil fuel-fired EGUs [energy generating units] typically have higher variable costs than other EGUs (such as nuclear and renewable EGUs), their generation is typically the first to be replaced when demand is reduced. Consequently, reductions in the utilization of fossil fuel-fired EGUs can be supported by reducing electricity consumption and, by the same token, reductions in electricity consumption avoid the CO2 emissions associated with the avoided generation… By reducing electricity usage significantly, energy efficiency also commonly reduces the bills of electricity customers.”

For additional information, including a link to the proposed rule, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule.


Energy 2030 On the Road Campaign Stop at ASHRAE HQ

ASHRAE headquarters in Atlanta was the site of an Energy 2030 On the Road campaign stop June 23, 2014, the first to be held in the Southeast. ASHRAE is one of the partners with the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) in this effort to support ASE’s goal of increasing energy productivity. The event was an enormous success, gathering about 60 attendees representing all key stakeholder groups necessary to driving energy efficiency in the community and Southeast. Participants and attendees represented Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The event was also a showcase of leadership, with keynote remarks from Commissioner Brandon Presley of the Public Service Commission of Mississippi.



Under amended legislation signed this week, the building energy rating and labeling program known as Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) now qualifies as a building energy rating program in the state of Florida.

House Bill 7147, which qualifies the bEQ program as an approved system, was signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott on June 13. The provisions in the bill amend a 2013 Florida law specifying requirements for energy ratings for all residential, commercial and state-owned buildings. ASHRAE felt interpretations of the original 2013 law were incorrect and vague, raising questions about how does a person or company become qualified or approved to provide this rating. Under the change, the bEQ program qualifies as an approved system. The bill becomes effective July 1, 2014.



Argentina hosted its first ASHRAE Congress on Sustainability and Development. This two-day conference, with 300 attendees, was held at the University of Buenos Aires with the focus on optimizing the use of resources and energy efficiency. Papers were presented by 29 professionals from the USA, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, along with local experts. During the two-day conference, former ASHRAE Vice President Ross Montgomery presented on ASHRAE’s signature building energy rating system, Building Energy Quotient (bEQ), and helped begin a bEQ analysis on one of the buildings on campus. This will be the first bEQ rating in South America.  Mr. Montgomery also proctored ASHRAE certification exams at the Congress for 13 applicants.