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Government Affairs

Government Affairs Updates, 08-08-2014

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.

Senate Appropriators Call for Recommendations to Reduce Overlap in Federal Energy Efficiency Programs

The Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee has released its draft bill for fiscal year 2015. In the report accompanying the bill, the Subcommittee directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead a study on government-wide energy efficiency programs that exist at DOE, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies and offices. This study will include recommendations to eliminate or consolidate energy efficiency programs. This language does not appear to be directed at any one program or agency, and is more likely representative of broader themes of consolidation that transcend issue areas and party lines.

Acknowledging the need for greater coordination between the public and private sectors, the Senate Subcommittee report also directs existing government coordinating bodies for energy efficiency programs to begin including programs for non-federal buildings (non-federal buildings are currently not addressed by these bodies).

While the Senate bill and report provide interesting insights into the priorities of Senate Appropriators, it is unlikely to have an immediate impact, as Congress is expected to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) when they return in September to avoid a partial government shutdown (the 2015 federal fiscal year begins October 1). A CR will fund government programs at the 2014 fiscal year levels. However, it is possible that Congress will enact individual spending bills, such as the Energy and Water Development Bill, during the lame duck session after the November elections. If the political winds shift, this becomes increasingly likely, given that the House passed their version of the Energy and Water Development Act (H.R.4923), and the release of the Senate bill provides grounds for bicameral negotiations to begin occurring.


ASHRAE and Over 20 Organizations Urge Congress to Support Building Energy Codes in the Energy and Water Funding Bill for FY 2015

The report that accompanies the House-passed version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R.4923) contains language that ASHRAE and several organizations view as potentially harmful to the development, adoption, and implementation of building energy codes. Here’s the language as it appears in H.R.4923:

“Consistent with current policy, the Department [of Energy] is directed not to advocate, promote, or discourage the adoption or inclusion of a particular building energy code or code provision, other than the technical and economic analysis work required by statutory mandate, or to provide funding to private third parties or non-governmental organizations that engage in this type of advocacy.”

To balance this language, ASHRAE has been working with congressional offices and several stakeholder organizations to encourage Senators to come out in strong support for building energy codes by including the following or similar language in the final text or report of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015:

“Consensus-based, market-driven model building energy codes and standards provide energy and cost-savings to businesses, consumers, and taxpayers, and are used widely at all levels of government. The Department [of Energy] plays a significant and necessary role in the development, adoption, and implementation of model building energy codes, creating proposals based on publicly reviewed cost and technical analysis, providing technical assistance to states and localities, and convening public forums that encourage the exchange of information.”

Earlier this week, ASHRAE sent a letter with over 20 signatories to Senate Appropriators encouraging the inclusion of this language, and offering to help educate the Senators and their staff on the benefits to consumers, business, the economy, and the environment of consensus-based model building energy codes.

As noted in the previous section of the Update, a continuing resolution (CR) is likely in the near-term, which would defang the House language. Even with a CR, this letter will continue to hold value, as it is still possible for Congress to enact an energy funding bill, and language similar to that contained in the House report has already shown up in other bills, such as the Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act (H.R.5027).


DOE to Host Public Input Meeting on State, Local and Tribal Issues in Energy Infrastructure for Quadrennial Energy Review in Santa Fe, NM on August 11, and Cheyenne, WY on August 21

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will hold Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) meetings in Santa Fe, New Mexico on August 11, 2014 and Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 21. This is in response to President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum of January 9 which directs the administration to conduct a Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). As described in the President’s Climate Action Plan, this first-ever review will focus on energy infrastructure and will identify the threats, risks and opportunities for U.S. energy and climate security, enabling the federal government to translate policy goals into a set of integrated actions.

Information on the Santa Fe meeting

Information on the Cheyenne meeting .


GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

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

Cambridge, Massachusetts Passes Benchmarking Ordinance

The City Council of Cambridge, MA voted unanimously on July 28, 2014 to approve the Building Energy Usage and Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO). This new ordinance requires the benchmarking and disclosure of building energy performance for large commercial, institutional, and multifamily buildings. Cambridge joins Boston and eight other major U.S. cities—Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, DC—two states, and one county in enacting laws to cut energy waste, lower utility bills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This new ordinance addresses energy and water use in commercial and institutional buildings that are 25,000 square feet or larger in size, along with multifamily buildings that have 50 or more units. Municipal buildings over 10,000 square feet in size also are included in the ordinance, which requires owners of the designated property types to annually benchmark and report to the City’s Community Development Department on these building’s energy use, water use, and building information via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Portfolio Manager tool. Furthermore, this Ordinance will authorize the Department to collect energy usage data to enable more effective energy and climate protection planning by the City and others and to provide information to the real estate marketplace to enable its members to make decisions that foster better energy performance. The ordinance will be phased in for the various building types, with municipal buildings reporting their data by the end of 2014. Starting in the second year of reporting, data collected will be disclosed annually through a public City website.

Information about the ordinance can be found on the City of Cambridge Community Development Department’s website here.


North Carolina Rolls Back Energy Codes

The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 201, turning back efforts to increase energy efficiency in that state. The bill entitled “An act to amend the applicability of the energy conservation code to certain existing nonresidential buildings, to clarify stormwater program impervious surface calculations for redevelopment, to create an exemption from the North Carolina environmental protection act for the reoccupation of an existing building or facility, and to amend the statute governing the department of commerce rural economic development division,” will allow building renovations and additions to use the 2009 NC Energy Code rather than the current 2012 Code. The measure does not limit the size of the renovation or addition and provides a large hole in the exemption for very large new construction. The bill ultimately went to Governor Pat McCrory who signed it making it effective immediately.


Montgomery County, Maryland Benchmarking Work Group Invitation

Earlier this spring, Montgomery County, Maryland passed Bill 2-14, Environmental Sustainability – Buildings – Benchmarking, which requires the county and owners of certain non-residential buildings in the county to benchmark the energy use of its facilities, making this the first county in the United States to pass such a law. Their Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for the implementation of this law, which requires DEP to establish a Benchmarking Work Group. 

This Work Group will review the benchmarking process as applied to county-owned facilities and also provide a report to the County Council and County Executive with recommendations on the benchmarking process as applied to privately-owned facilities, including any proposed amendments to the County law. 

The first meeting will be held Tuesday, September 16, 2014 starting at 2:00 pm in the Executive Office Building (101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD) Auditorium. The Executive Office Building is located off the Rockville Metro Station. Additionally, there are several paid parking lots and garages close by.

A more detailed agenda will be sent out by DEP at the end of August. This provides an excellent opportunity to show how ASHRAE’s grassroots efforts can work. Registration is free and open to all who would like to attend. 

Please use this link to register.