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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update

North Carolina Continues Down Regressive Path on Energy Code

In the May 17 edition of Update, North Carolina’s General Assembly is heading down a dangerous road by considering legislation (notably, House Bill 201) to repeal mandatory adoption of the state’s 2012 energy code and revert back to the 2009 edition. Such a reversion would result in a state code 30 percent less energy efficient than the 2012 code. That code includes a requirement for commercial buildings to either comply with ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010 or to be 20 percent more efficient than the 2007 version of Standard 90.1.

The primary argument for this proposal and others like it across the country is that current versions of energy efficiency codes and standards, including Standard 90.1, are too costly for builders to implement in new buildings or to ask owners to pay for in retrofitting existing buildings.

After we spoke with staff from the North Carolina Energy Office, despite the bill not seeming to have much momentum in the Senate after passing the House, there have been few voices speaking out to and with state legislators against these roll-back proposals. This means it is even more important that ASHRAE chapters work and speak together – and, perhaps, most importantly – speak individually as business owners and citizens in/of the Tar Heel State to convince elected officials of the ramifications of moving HB 201 – or similar proposals (e.g., a provision in the budget bill, amendments to other bills, etc.) – forward.

A renewed call to action for North Carolina ASHRAE members: Contact Bryan Lampley, the Region IV Regional Vice Chair (RVC) on the Grassroots Government Activities Committee (GGAC), at [email protected] to get engaged and help fight this bill before it gets to Governor McCrory. Along with ASHRAE staff, he will be able to provide tools and tips on how to work with legislators to make sure this bill does not pass as it is currently written.

As has been noted several times previously, 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, ASHRAE’s Manager of State and Local Government Affairs, at [email protected], so connections with ASHRAE leadership – especially the Regional Vice Chairs on the Grassroots Government Activities Committee (GGAC) – can be made quickly and ASHRAE chapter and section action can follow in short order.

 

Congress Debates National Defense Bill – Threats Loom for LEED Gold & Platinum

The policymaking carousel is turning, and Congress is once again debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R.1960/S.1034). Over the years, Congress has passed the NDAA 51 times – making it one of the truly rare bills that is both highly controversial and enacted almost every year by considerable bipartisan margins. The NDAA provides spending authority for most Department of Defense (DOD) programs – including military construction.

Buried in the House version of the 733-page House version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014 is a provision that would prohibit the use of DOD funds for LEED Gold or Platinum certifications unless the pursuit of those certifications imposes no additional costs to DOD, or the Secretary of Defense submits a waiver to the congressional defense committees that demonstrates payback on those certifications. This provision is predicated upon section 2830 of the NDAA FY 2012, which also called for a report on the return on investment and long-term payback to DOD for LEED, and ASHRAE standards 90.1-2010 and 189.1-2011. That report was provided to Congress by the National Research Council in early 2013 and is currently being considered by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

At the time of publishing this edition of the Update, the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the NDAA FY 2014, and is now slowly making its way through over 150 amendments that cover a wide range of issues. None of these amendments appear to address LEED or ASHRAE standards.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the NDAA FY 2014, clearing the bill for consideration on the Senate floor. While text of the Committee-approved bill was not yet available, the bill as introduced contained no references to LEED or ASHRAE standards, making now a critical time for LEED proponents. If the House and Senate pass NDAA versions that contain different provisions on LEED, there will be an additional opportunity to remove the prohibition on LEED Gold and Platinum when the two chambers come together to work out a compromise bill during the conference committee. ASHRAE is working with the U.S. Green Building Council to help educate Senate offices on the facts of LEED and dispel any myths or inaccuracies that Members of Congress and their staff may possess.

For additional information, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at [email protected].

 

Senators and Representatives Ready Amendments to Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill

It may not be a stretch to call the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.761/H.R.1616) the energy efficiency bill in both the House and Senate. This bipartisan bill is supported by a wide range of stakeholder organizations – including ASHRAE – and would improve the energy efficiency of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings through support for building energy codes, workforce training, and financing for efficiency upgrades.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this bill (also known as Shaheen-Portman/McKinley-Welch) in mid-May, paving the way for consideration on the Senate floor after Congress addresses immigration and other unrelated issues that are further up on its agenda. In the meantime, Senators and Representatives are busy drafting and introducing bills that may be offered as amendments. Below is a list of possible amendments that have received extra attention in recent days and weeks:

  • All-of-the-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act (S.1020) – Would change fossil fuel energy consumption reduction requirements, and add new energy efficiency provisions for federal buildings.
  • Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act (S.717) – Would establish a pilot program to award grants to nonprofit organizations for energy efficiency retrofits.
  • Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (S.1084) – Would establish the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, and local assistance provided to promote the energy retrofitting of schools.
  • Better Buildings Act (H.R.2126) (also known as Tenant Star) – Would build on the success of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR for Buildings program and establish a voluntary new “Tenant Star” program to certify leased spaces in buildings as energy efficient.

For additional information on any of these bills, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at [email protected].

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