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Government Affairs

Government Affairs Update, 07-12-2013


Threat of North Carolina Code Roll-Back Seems to Have Passed– For Now

As has been reported in previous Updates, the North Carolina General Assembly has been considering legislation (HB 201) to roll back building energy codes to previous, less efficient versions. Now, as a result of recent amendments the bill only applies to the commercial code, so if enacted, the code would revert to the 2009 state code. The 2012 iteration of the state energy code includes a requirement for compliance either with ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010 or to be 20% more efficient than the 2007 version of Standard 90.1.

After a sudden and unexpected re-referral to the Senate’s Rules and Operations Committee on June 24, which delayed floor consideration for at least one week, it appears that further discussion on the bill – at least, for the 2013 legislative session – is unlikely. The General Assembly seems to be focused more on sending a budget to Governor McCrory.

However, HB 201 may be considered in the 2014 session. The rules for “carrying over” legislation in North Carolina are complicated, but it is still conceivable that the code roll-back will come back up once the General Assembly re-convenes early next year.

As stressed in past Updates, This is a dangerous trend that may spread to your communities, so please be on the lookout for such proposals. If one does arise, please contact Mark Wills so connections with Grassroots Government Activities Committee leadership can be made quickly and effectively.

[CORRECTION: In previous editions of Update, it was reported that reversion to North Carolina’s 2009 state energy code would result in a 30 percent reduction in commercial building energy efficiency, when, in fact, that figure applied only to residential efficiency.]


Energy Code Fight Taking Shape in Show-Me State City

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), one of six regional energy efficiency organizations (REEOs) fighting for greater energy efficiency in all forms across the U.S., reports that energy code concerns are arising in Columbia, MO, home to the University of Missouri.

Recently, pursuant to state law, the city council approved a resolution to delay a vote on adoption of the 2012 energy codes for at least 90 days. The statute mandates that any model building code be filed with the city clerk for 90 days before that code’s adoption. The council held a meeting on June 17 to discuss energy code adoption at which both the Building Construction Codes Commission and the Environment and Energy Commission spoke about their recommended amendments. With the 90-day delay, the council is expected to schedule a vote in September.

However, builders and developers are said to be fighting adoption of ASHRAE 90.1-2010 as the commercial energy code, saying that it’s too complex, too burdensome to comply with, and by extension, too expensive.

Attention ASHRAE members working in and around Columbia: If you are able and willing to contact your city council members on this issue:

  • Determine who your council member is by visiting this link.
  • Contact them by phone, email, letter, or in person.
  • In your communications with council members, emphasize the impact of not adopting the up-to-date code on you as building professionals working in Columbia.
  • And, if at all possible, alert Mark Wills, ASHRAE’s Manager, State and Local Government Relations, via email to report that you’ve made contact and how the communication was received.

This is not good news, so we need Columbia ASHRAE members’ assistance in pushing back. As in North Carolina, emphasis should be placed on the economic impact on local firms and small businesses; as resistance to code adoption is based in large part on perceived cost implications.


DOE Updates Energy Efficiency Requirements for New Federal Buildings to ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new final rule that requires new federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings to meet or exceed by 30% (if life-cycle cost-effective) ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. The requirements apply to new federal buildings for which design for construction begins on or after one year from July 9, 2013 (the date the regulation was issued).

DOE issued this rule after conducting an analysis of Standard 90.1-2010, and determining that the new version of 90.1 would achieve greater energy efficiency in a cost-effective manner than the prior version. The Department conducted this analysis under the requirements of the Energy Conservation and Production Act.

To view the full rule, visit http://ow.ly/mPs7R.

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at mames@ashrae.org.


DOE Issues Final Rule for Test Procedures for Residential Furnaces and Boilers – References ASHRAE Standard 103

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new final rule this week that amends the test procedures for residential furnaces and boilers by adopting new equations to facilitate calculation of the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for certain classes of products when omitting specified heat-up and cool-down tests. The final rule incorporates by reference ASHRAE Standard 103-1993 Method of Testing for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency of Residential Central Furnaces and Boilers.

According to the rule, “DOE has concluded that any test procedure changes resulting from this rulemaking should not impact the existing energy conservation standards for residential furnaces and boilers, because such changes simply allow for the generation of accurate information reflecting the efficiency of affected basic models, which typically test above the existing minimum standard level.”

To view the full rule, visit http://ow.ly/mPv4V.

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at mames@ashrae.org.


U.S. House Passes FY 2014 Energy & Water Funding Bill

This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (H.R.2609) – one of the 12 annual bills that provides funding for energy and water projects. The $30.4 billion bill was passed by a vote of 227 to 198, largely along partisan lines. The bill would reduce current spending levels by $2.9 billion, and as a result of these proposed cuts, President Obama issued a veto threat of the bill, citing several specific concerns, including proposed funding levels for U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE):

The bill would reduce “building efficiency funding by more than two-thirds [which] would hinder development of cost-effective new technologies and appliance standards to save Americans money by increasing energy productivity. Insufficient levels of weatherization assistance funding would not sustain the full network of State and local offices needed to assist the Nation's low-income households in reducing their energy bills.” 

In contrast, House Republicans released a statement supporting the bill’s passage in the House:

“Our priorities were clear as we drafted this bill: Support programs that have a direct benefit on our national security, American commerce, and the safety and well-being of the American people.”

“The bill places the highest priority on national defense, Army Corps of Engineers, and other activities on which the federal government must take the lead. It recognizes our fiscal realities, and makes the tough decisions to ensure we get our spending under control without sacrificing our most critical of federal functions”.

While the bill would reduce funding for the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which administers the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), by $5 million, H.R.2609 does include a statement of strong support for CBECS: 

“The [Appropriations] Committee recognizes that the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data are critical to the building industry. The 2003 CBECS remains the most current survey of commercial building efficiency. CBECS data are used in the development of ASHRAE building energy efficiency standards, the Energy Star program at U.S. EPA, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, and Green Globes. To the extent possible within available funding, the Committee encourages the Energy Information Administration to complete the current CBEC survey and publish the results as soon as practical.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the energy and water funding bill in late June. The Senate’s bill proposes an increase for EIA of approximately $12 million, as well as higher funding levels for most other programs. Because of the large differences between the House and Senate versions, and the President’s veto threat, it is unclear how much Republicans and Democrats will be willing to compromise – making the possibility of a long-term continuing resolution (CR) likely at this point. A CR would maintain funding for federal programs approximately at their current levels.

For additional information please contact Mark Ames (mames@ashrae.org), ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs.

High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition Holds Congressional Briefing on Public-Private Partnerships for Public Buildings

Earlier this week the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC), together with the Performance Based Building Coalition, ASHRAE, APPA, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) held a Congressional briefing that sought to educate policymakers on the importance of public-private partnerships for public buildings.

This briefing provided an overview of the need for exempt facility bonds and the positive impacts that adding government-owned buildings to the types of infrastructure assets eligible for these bonds would have across the country. The briefing highlighted the benefits already being achieved by the transportation sector’s use of exempt facility bonds, and the cost and time savings realized by the Long Beach Courthouse project through the use of a public-private partnership.

For additional information please contact Doug Read (dread@ashrae.org), ASHRAE’s Director of Government Affairs. 


U.S. House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Management & Oversight of DOE’s National Labs

The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing this past Thursday to examine the management of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national labs. Specific issues explored included technology transfer, performance, regulations, and a report that was released earlier this year entitled “Positioning DOE’s Labs for the Future: A Review of DOE’s Management and Oversight of the National Laboratories”.

For additional information, including an archived webcast, witness testimony, and related materials, please visit http://ow.ly/mSrAQ.