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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 3/13/2015

Federal Activities

  • Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act Reintroduced in Senate
  • Representatives Blackburn and Schrader Reintroduce Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act
  • Senators Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation Promoting State Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Assistance
  • Proposed Rule Issued by DOE for Test Procedures for Residential Furnaces and Boilers
  • DOE Releases Correction on Final Rule for Energy Conservation Standards for Certain Commercial Heating, Air Conditioning, and Water Heating Equipment
  • Federal Committee Will Meet to Develop Standards and Test Procedures for Residential Appliances and Commercial Equipment

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

  • Survey on Energy Modeling Software
  • Illinois Budget Proposal Recommends Elimination of Energy Efficiency Programs
  • Utah Code Change Legislation Passes State House
  • City of Chicago Releases Benchmarking Data

Federal Activities

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

Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act Reintroduced in the Senate

Earlier this week, long-time leaders in energy efficiency, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced their Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.720). The bill, which is largely identical to the version that was most recently introduced last year, addresses several areas including:

  • Building Energy Codes
  • Workforce Training and Capacity Building
  • Energy Efficiency and Helping to Improve Indoor Air Quality in School Buildings
  • Encouraging the Alignment of Tenants and Building Owners Concerning Energy Efficiency
  • Valuing Energy Efficiency in Mortgage Underwriting
  • Industrial Energy Efficiency
  • Federal Green Buildings

ASHRAE supports this bill, which is projected to save consumers $16.2 billion a year, significantly reduce CO2 and related emissions, and create more than 190,000 jobs.

“By establishing a national energy strategy, we can create jobs, save taxpayers billions, make manufacturers more competitive, and protect the environment,” said Senator Portman. “Our bill is the equivalent of taking 37 million homes off the grid, and I look forward to renewing our efforts to promote this commonsense legislation.”

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to address our energy challenges,” Senator Shaheen said. “Our bipartisan bill will create jobs, save consumers billions, and drastically reduce pollution in a smart, effective and affordable way – that’s why it enjoys broad bipartisan support. A vote to pass our legislation is long overdue and I hope the overwhelming support behind this bill will help carry it through the Senate.”

The bill is supported by over 250 businesses and nonprofit organizations. The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The next step is for the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act to be considered by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, and then brought to the Senate floor for a vote. Timing for these stages has not yet been determined, but is expected to begin sometime in April.

 

Representatives Blackburn and Schrader Reintroduce Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act

The Senate’s approach to energy legislation is to have a small number of large, comprehensive bills, however the House is taking a different track, opting for a larger number of small bills. As evidence of this, on Wednesday Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced their comprehensive energy efficiency bill (see above), and last week Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) reintroduced their Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act (H.R.1273), which focuses only on building energy codes, workforce training, and building labeling.

H.R.1273 is identical to the version that was introduced last year, and, if significantly improved, has the potential to clarify the role of the U.S. Department of Energy in the development and state adoption of the model building energy codes. ASHRAE continues to be engaged in productive discussions with Representatives Blackburn and Schrader, and a large number of stakeholders to develop a compromise bill that all can support.

 

Senators Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation Promoting State Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Assistance

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have reintroduced the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act (S.703), which would improve, reauthorize, and extend for five years, the State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program. Together, these programs have helped more than 7.4 million low-income families make their homes more energy efficient, and helped states strategically leverage federal dollars to promote energy efficiency.

“The Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program have made it possible for millions of Americans to reap the benefits of a wide range of energy-efficient technologies and practices,” said Senator Coons. “Our bill will not only ensure that both landmark programs can continue to help make American homes safer, healthier, and more energy efficient, it also further enhances the Weatherization Assistance Program with a complementary, competitive grant program, and requires that the DOE establish strong, achievable standards for qualifying entities. This will ensure that even more families can benefit.”

“Weatherization provides grants to permanently lower home energy costs for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities,” Senator Collins said. “This is particularly important for a state like Maine with some of the oldest housing stock in the nation and a high dependence on home heating oil. The State Energy Program is also supporting important state energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  Programs such as these have a significant return on investment and help meet our national goals of saving energy, lowering costs, and energy independence.”

ASHRAE supports the State Energy Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, and this legislation.

 

Proposed Rule Issued by DOE for Test Procedures for Residential Furnaces and Boilers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to revise its test procedure for residential furnaces and boilers established under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This rulemaking will fulfill DOE's obligation to review its test procedures for covered products at least once every seven years. The proposed rule generally considers revisions based on the latest industry standards incorporated by reference, clarifications to the set-up and methodology, as well as new procedures for verification of the design requirements for certain categories of boilers and for estimating electrical consumption of furnaces and boilers. DOE is also announcing a public meeting to discuss and receive comments on issues presented in this test procedure rulemaking.

ASHRAE Standard 103 Methods of Testing for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency of Residential Central Furnaces and Boilers is discussed extensively in this notice of proposed rulemaking.

Comments are due on or before May 26, 2015. DOE will hold a public meeting and webinar on Thursday, March 26, 2015 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern in Washington, DC.

The full notice is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/11/2015-03619/energy-conservation-program-for-consumer-products-test-procedures-for-residential-furnaces-and

 

DOE Releases Correction on Final Rule for Energy Conservation Standards for Certain Commercial Heating, Air Conditioning, and Water Heating Equipment

DOE has issued a correction on a final rule they issued on May 16, 2012 concerning energy conservation standards and test procedures for certain commercial heating, air conditioning, and water heating equipment. The final rule discusses ASHRAE standards extensively.

Full information is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/05/2015-05061/energy-conservation-program-for-certain-industrial-equipment-energy-conservation-standards-and-test

 

Federal Committee Will Meet to Develop Standards and Test Procedures for Residential Appliances and Commercial Equipment

DOE’s Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) will hold a public meeting and webinar on Thursday, March 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. The purpose of this meeting is to provide advice and recommendations to DOE on the development of standards and test procedures for residential appliances and commercial equipment.

Full information is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/04/2015-04503/appliance-standards-and-rulemaking-federal-advisory-committee-notice-of-open-meeting-and-webinar

 

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 [email protected].

Survey on Energy Modeling Software

The Building Codes Assistance Project is conducting a survey of design professionals through April 30. This survey is seeking information on the current use of energy modeling software. It is primarily a multiple-choice survey and should take no longer than ten minutes to complete. Each participant can opt to enter into a raffle to receive one of five $50 Amazon gift cards. To access the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WXZWTSY

 

Illinois Budget Proposal Recommends Elimination of Energy Efficiency Programs

Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois submitted his proposed state budget to the Illinois legislature recommending vast cuts in several energy programs. Programs that would be cut include:

  • The Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards Programs ($100 million)
  • The Renewable Energy Program ($10 million)
  • Office of Coal Marketing and Development and its programs ($25 million)
  • State add-on to the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($165 million)

It is likely these recommended cuts will meet with significant opposition from a number of different organizations.

To view the Governor’s full budget proposal, go to http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Pages/default.aspx

 

Utah Code Change Legislation Passes State House

Utah House Bill 285, which would change the code cycle to a six year rotation rather than every three years, cleared the State House on March 2 by a vote of 60-10-5. The bill would also require a cost-benefit analysis on code implementation and, unless changed, would be effective this year. This requirement could derail or significantly delay the 2015 code adoption. The bill, sponsored by Representative Brad Wilson, has now moved to the State Senate where it is being sponsored by Senator J. Stuart Adams. It has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee and to the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

To follow this legislation and to connect with members of the Utah legislature, go to http://le.utah.gov/

 

City of Chicago Releases Benchmarking Data

The City of Chicago has released benchmarking data for the first year since the ordinance was passed by the city council and went into effect. The data is for the first level of compliance, basedon building size and occupancy use, according to the following schedule:

  • June 1, 2014: Municipal & commercial buildings ≥ 250,000 square feet
  • June 1, 2015:Municipal & commercial buildings 50,000 – 250,000 square feet; residential buildings ≥ 250,000 square feet 
  • June 1, 2016: Residential buildings 50,000 – 250,000 square feet

348 commercial buildings spanning 260 million square feet in 60 different Chicago neighborhoods fit into the first category. These buildings account for 11% of citywide energy consumption. ASHRAE is pleased that its certified Building Energy Assessment Professionals are recognized by the city to perform these services.

For the full report and the outline of services yet to come, go to www.cityofchicago.org/energybenchmarking.  

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