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Government Affairs Update, 5/8/2015

ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 5/8/2015

Federal Activities

  • ASHRAE Submits Testimony for House, Senate Hearings on Energy Efficiency Legislation
  • Congressmen McKinley, Welch Pursue Action on Energy Efficiency in House
  • House Passes Energy & Water Funding Bill for FY 2016
  • HUD, USDA Issue Final Determination on 2009 IECC & 90.1-2007

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

  • May is Building Safety Month
  • Legislatures Adjourn in Six More States
  • ASHRAE Opposes North Carolina House Bill 583
  • Anthracite Chapter Visits U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Benchmarking Passes in Atlanta, Georgia and Portland, Oregon
  • ASHRAE Argentina Chapter to hold Annual Congress
  • GGAC RVC for Region XII Visits Colombia

Federal Activities

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

ASHRAE Submits Testimony for House, Senate Hearings on Energy Efficiency Legislation

The U.S. House and Senate both held hearings last Thursday on energy legislation, representing a major step forward in congressional leaders’ efforts to set the table for enacting a comprehensive energy efficiency bill this year – a feat not accomplished since 2007.

The focus of the House hearing was draft legislation released by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), which addresses a variety of areas including:

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of federal data centers and the purchase of information technologies
  • Repeal of fossil fuel consumption reduction requirements for federal buildings
  • Federal recognition of voluntary verification programs for air conditioning, furnace, boiler, heat pump, and water heating products for compliance with DOE energy efficiency standards and the ENERGY STAR program
  • Temporarily prohibiting DOE from implementing a final rule on energy efficiency standards for non-weatherized gas furnaces and mobile home furnaces
  • Building energy codes – includes the language from the Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act (H.R.1273, “Blackburn-Schrader”)
  • Clarifying that any DOE program on building asset rating is voluntary
  • Encouraging the use of energy performance contracting by the federal government
  • Improving energy efficiency in schools – includes the text of the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (H.R.756)

Although a comprehensive energy bill is also being prepared in the Senate, the focus of the Senate hearing was on 22 bills, rather than a single draft bill. The bills included everything from the 139-page Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.720, “Portman-Shaheen”) to a bill (S.939) by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would require an evaluation of duplicative green building programs within DOE.

ASHRAE President Tom Phoenix submitted testimony that was made part of the official record for both hearings. The testimony includes information on ASHRAE’s support or opposition for many of the bills discussed during the hearings.

For in-depth information on these hearings, including an archived webcast, bill summaries and text, and witness testimony, please visit:

 

Congressmen McKinley, Welch Pursue Action on Energy Efficiency in House

Last week U.S. Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the House companion to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (H.R.2177, “McKinley-Welch”), known in the Senate as Portman-Shaheen for its sponsors. The House bill contains the same text as the Senate version.

The introduction of this bill, coming on the same day as the House and Senate hearings on energy efficiency, adds to the mounting pressure to include a robust section on energy efficiency in House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s draft comprehensive energy bill. However, because McKinley-Welch was referred to no fewer than six different committees, it is unlikely that this bill would move on its own. The more likely path forward is that some of the text from McKinley-Welch could be incorporated into Upton’s draft bill.

Like Portman-Shaheen, ASHRAE is a strong supporter of McKinley-Welch.

Notably, Representatives McKinley and Welch serve as the Co-Chairs of the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus. ASHRAE founded the coalition of over 200 organizations that supports this caucus seven years ago. For more information please visit www.hpbccc.org.

 

House Passes Energy & Water Funding Bill for FY 2016

The first day of May saw the passage in the House of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (H.R.2028). The vote occurred largely along partisan lines, with only 10 Democrats voting for it, and only seven Republicans voting against it.

The Energy and Water Appropriations Act for FY 2016 would reduce funding for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by approximately $266 million, including a cut of $21.6 million for DOE’s Building Technologies office. The report for this bill also includes the following language that has the potential to undermine the development, adoption, and implementation of model building energy standards and codes by restricting DOE’s engagement with these documents:

“Consistent with current policy, of the funds made available for Building Technologies, the Department 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.”

ASHRAE is leading a diverse coalition of groups to educate Members of Congress on the potential unintended consequences of including this report language in a final appropriations bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is in the process of drafting its bill, with details expected later this year.

 

HUD, USDA Issue Final Determination on 2009 IECC & 90.1-2007

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have issued a final determination that adoption of the 2009 edition of the IECC for single family homes and the 2007 edition of Standard 90.1 for multifamily buildings will not negatively affect the affordability and availability of certain HUD- and USDA-assisted housing specified in section 481 of the Energy and Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). This determination fulfills a statutory requirement established under EISA that HUD and USDA adopt revisions to the 2006 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2004 subject to: A determination that the revised codes do not negatively affect the availability or affordability of new construction of single family and multifamily housing covered by EISA; and a determination by DOE that the revised codes would improve energy efficiency.

Recognizing that even with this action, HUD and USDA are well behind the most recent editions of the IECC and 90.1, HUD and USDA intend to issue an advanced notice that addresses the next steps the agencies plan to take on the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2013 codes.

Full information on this notice is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/05/06/2015-10380/final-affordability-determination-energy-efficiency-standards

 

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].

May is Building Safety Month

Building Safety Month, held in May each year, is a public awareness campaign to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. The campaign reinforces the need for adoption of modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system. Each week of May has a different theme, with the final week being of particular importance to ASHRAE: “$ave Energy: Build to Code.” In addition to a proclamation from the President of the United States recognizing this annual commemoration, legislatures in at least three states (Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) have introduced resolutions designating the month of May as Building Safety Month in those states.

For more information on this annual event, please go to http://www.iccsafe.org/about-icc/building-safety-month/2015-building-safety-month-is-may/

 

Legislatures Adjourn in Six More States

State legislatures in Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota and Washington have adjourned within the past two weeks, though both Alaska and Washington immediately began special sessions to deal with state budget issues. Both states failed to reach final agreements on budget bills to fund state programs and services, among other pressing state needs. The Governors of those two states immediately called the legislatures back into session with no deadlines on when those special sessions may end. Look for the same in Florida, where the state house adjourned several days before the state senate, leaving no state budget adopted. 

 

ASHRAE Opposes North Carolina House Bill 583

ASHRAE President Tom Phoenix recently sent a letter to the Chairs of the NC House Regulatory Reform Committee in opposition to House Bill 583. This legislation, “AN ACT TO REQUIRE THE NC BUILDING CODE COUNCIL TO MAKE THE NORTH CAROLINA BUILDING CODE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD ONLINE,” has the potential to infringe upon ASHRAE copyrights by providing access to the NC Building Code available for a free download to anyone. Several of ASHRAE’s peer-reviewed standards are the basis for codes written and disseminated by ICC. As such, our intellectual property, which is the basis for and included as part of the North Carolina State Building Code, is copyrighted material protected by federal copyright law.

Responding to the desire for greater access to ASHRAE’s standards, the Society has made many of its most popular standards available online in a read-only format. For additional information, please visit https://www.ashrae.org/standards-research--technology/standards--guidelines/other-ashrae-standards-referenced-in-code

To view the letter from President Phoenix, please go to https://www.ashrae.org/government-affairs/public-policy-issue-briefs-letters--testimony. The letter is entitled “ASHRAE letter opposing NC House Bill 583 which would make the North Carolina building code available for download online”

 

Anthracite Chapter Visits U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Representatives of the Anthracite Chapter in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania had the opportunity to meet with Kristin A. Magnotta, Regional Manager for U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA). The meeting was arranged in response to a request from the ASHRAE Government Affairs Office urging our Chapter members to meet with federal legislators during the spring Congressional recess. Chapter President Matt Archey and Chapter GGAC Chair A.J. Speicher spoke on a wide range of issues of importance to ASHRAE including bEQ, STEM education, and comprehensive energy efficiency legislation. 

 

Benchmarking Passes in Atlanta, Georgia and Portland, Oregon

The City of Atlanta has joined New York, San Francisco, Austin and other cities around the country in adopting a comprehensive set of energy efficiency and benchmarking ordinances. These ordinances, adopted unanimously by the City Council on April 20, are called the Atlanta Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance.  Implementation will start with municipal buildings in 2015 and include private buildings in 2016. Private and city-owned buildings over 25,000 square feet will be required to report their energy use.

For more information please go to http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?recordid=3498&page=672

The City Council of Portland, Oregon also adopted unanimously on April 22 (Earth Day) its energy benchmarking ordinances. These will require owners of commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet to track and report energy use on an annual basis and will cover nearly 80 percent of the city's commercial square footage and affect approximately 1,000 buildings. The policy includes offices, retail spaces, grocery stores, hotels, health care and higher education buildings. The ordinances do not include residential properties, nursing homes, and places of worship, parking structures, K-12 schools, industrial facilities, or warehouses.

For more information please go to https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/527323

 

ASHRAE Argentina Chapter to hold Annual Congress

The ASHRAE Argentina Chapter will hold its annual Congress in Buenos Aires, entitled "Strategies for energy efficiency in Buildings”, from May 14 to 15 at the National Technological University. As part of this program, ASHRAE members Ross Montgomery (bEQ Procedures) and Jennifer Isenbeck (Commissioning) will be two of the lecturers. Additionally on May 15, a special examination will be held for all six ASHRAE Certifications.

For more information please go to http://argentina.ashraechapters.org/.  

 

GGAC RVC for Region XII Visits Colombia

Scott Seigel, GGAC RVC for Region XII, recently returned from a visit with the Colombia Chapter in Bogota. In addition to meeting with the Chapter, Scott had visits with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Mining and Energy, and the Society of Architects of Colombia. Joining Scott on his visits were representatives of ACAIRE (the Colombian Professional Association of Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Refrigeration). A wide range of topics was discussed during these meetings, including indoor air quality and energy codes for hospitals, various weather climates across the country, and the use of refrigerants.

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