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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 1/24/2014

Grassroots Government Activities Report

The newly constituted Grassroots Government Activities Committee had its first official meeting at the ASHRAE 2014 Winter Conference in New York City. Bert Phillips of Winnipeg, Manitoba serves as Chair of the Committee. Keith Reihl of Houston, Texas serves as First Vice Chair and Rob Craddock of Regina, Saskatchewan as Second Vice Chair. Members of the Committee are the GGAC Regional Vice Chairs from all of ASHRAE’s regions and a Communications Coordinator. 

A number of recurring themes were apparent as committee members expressed their ideas for the work of the committee. Among those were: 

  • Filling of Chapter Chair positions
  • Residential codes
  • The Building Energy Quotient Program and moving energy codes forward
  • International challenges (e.g.,  country-specific CRC training, country specific advocacy tools)
  • PAOE points for Chapter activities in the grassroots government arena.

The Committee also has a strong desire to keep Chapter leaders and members informed and to make sure information of importance to the Regions and Chapters is communicated quickly. Use of ASHRAExCHANGE and other communications tools such as ASHRAE’s Grassroots Government Activities Committee Facebook page and ASHRAE’s Twitter accounts (@ASHRAE_GGAC) will be utilized for this effort. Additionally new tools will be developed and posted on the Grassroots Government Activities webpage for Regions and Chapters to use.

Also established was an International Task Group composed of the six RVCs whose Regions include areas outside of the United States. This is chaired by Ashish Rakheja, Communications Coordinator for the Committee. It is tasked with monitoring issues outside the USA and helping to determine what issues come before the full committee.

Questions about the work of the committee can be directed to Jim Scarborough, ASHRAE’s Manager of Grassroots Government Affairs, at [email protected].


Congress Passes, President Signs Omnibus Spending Bill; Good & Bad News for Building Community

Overcoming considerable political and philosophical differences, the U.S. House, Senate, and President have enacted a bipartisan omnibus spending bill that provides $1 trillion in discretionary funding for federal programs. Below are snapshots of program funding. For specific information on any programs, including those listed or not, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs at [email protected].

Department of Energy (DOE):

$117 million for the Energy Information Administration (an increase of $12.2 million). EIA administers programs such as the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey(CBECS).

$177.9 million for the Building Technologies Office (a decrease of $40.7 million). This program funds DOE’s involvement in building energy standards/codes, and related activities.

$50 million for the State Energy Program (a decrease of $7 million).

$174 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (a decrease of $10 million).

$28.2 million for the Federal Energy Management Program (a decrease of $1.7 million).

The funding law establishes a new independent “Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories”, which will be charged with examining and providing recommendations to DOE and the Congressional Appropriations Committees on the alignment of the Department’s national labs with DOE’s strategic priorities. The Commission will also determine whether there are opportunities for more effectively and efficiently using the capabilities of the national labs, including consolidation and realignment. The report is due by February 1, 2015.


General Services Administration (GSA):

$58 million for government-wide policy activities (a decrease of $4.5 million). GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings is funded under this area. The law includes language encouraging GSA to implement or use green building certification systems for new construction, major renovations, and existing buildings when the system is a voluntary consensus standard as defined by the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-113) and OMB Circular A-119 and in accordance with its own recommendations on green building certification systems under section 436(h) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.


Department of Commerce:

$850 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (an increase of $42.9 million).


ASHRAE Submits Written Testimony for U.S. Senate Committee Hearing on Conference & Travel Spending Across the Federal Government

The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs is charged with studying the efficacy, economy, and effectiveness of all federal agencies. In fulfilling this responsibility, the Committee recently held a hearing entitled “Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government”.

“In May 2012, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance that required agencies to reduce federal spending on agency travel and to improve accountability on conference spending,” said Committee Chairman Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE).

“In addition, the challenging budget climate of the last few years has forced agencies to operate with less federal funding, which has, in turn, curtailed spending on travel, training and conferences,” the Chairman continued. While “some good has come about in the sense that agencies have found ways to cut conference and meeting costs through technology, conference calls, and webinars… we must not forget the value of face to face meetings amongst agencies and, more importantly, with those who work outside the federal government.”

In support of federal employees attending private sector technical conferences, such as those hosted by ASHRAE, the Society submitted written testimony to the Senate Committee.

“ASHRAE and its members interact with federal, state, tribal, and local governments in virtually all the work we do. The Society and its members are likewise directly impacted by the actions of these government entities,” said ASHRAE President Bill Bahnfleth.

"Consequently, in-depth interactions between federal personnel and ASHRAE members are critical to achieving ASHRAE’s mission of advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world. Notably, many government employees are members of ASHRAE, serving on and otherwise participating with our technical committees, councils, chapters, and other entities. These groups facilitate the generation and dissemination of best practices that improve the knowledge and skills of public and private sector workers alike.”

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


U.S. Senate Committee Holds Hearing Examining President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Climate change is often a topic of discussion in policy and technical circles alike. Seeking to bring new life to this issue, U.S. President Barak Obama issued his Climate Action Plan in June 2013. Although barely over 20 pages, the Plan covers a wide range of areas, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency, leaving many to question what the President is specifically proposing in the areas addressed.

Seeking to shed light on this question, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held an oversight hearing in mid-January to review the President’s Climate Action Plan.

To view an archived webcast of this hearing and view witness testimony, visit

To view ASHRAE’s Public Policy Issue Brief on Climate Change and Building Energy Efficiency, visit

To see ASHRAE’s Position Document on Climate Change, visit

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

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