Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ASHRAE - Government Affairs Update

Good day and welcome to ASHRAE's Government Affairs Update. Along with the Government Affairs Webpage, these periodic updates feature information on government affairs-related activities of interest to ASHRAE members and others interested in the built environment. Archives of previous updates are available from the Government Affairs Webpage (http://www.ashrae.org/advocacy).

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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 7/15/11

• House Committee Leaders Come Out in Support of CBECS
• House Passes Energy & Water Funding Bill
• Senate Committee Amends, then Approves Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act

House Committee Leaders Come Out in Support of CBECS

The Democratic and Republican Co-Chairs of the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus (HPBCC), and the Chairman and Ranking Democrat of the House Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee delivered a coordinated speech this week on the House floor in support of the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS).

CBECS is a quadrennial national sample survey that collects information on the stock of U.S. commercial buildings, their energy-related building characteristics, and their energy consumption and expenditures. Commercial buildings include all buildings in which at least half of the floorspace is used for a purpose that is not residential, industrial, or agricultural, so they include building types that might not traditionally be considered “commercial,” such as schools, correctional institutions, and buildings used for religious worship[1].

Work on the 2011 CBECS has been suspended due to funding reductions in fiscal year 2011 for the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which administers the Survey. Language in the House Energy & Water funding bill could have put the future of the Survey in jeopardy, and the House floor speeches this week were intended to convey to Senators and EIA leadership that CBECS is supported by key House Democrats and Republicans.

ASHRAE has been working with a large coalition of stakeholders to support resumption of the 2011 CBECS, and assisted preparing in House Members for their CBECS floor speeches.

As a public demonstration of stakeholder support for CBECS, House leaders entered into the Congressional Record a CBECS support letter ASHRAE had sent to key House Members.

With the House passage of the Energy & Water appropriations bill (described in the next section), the focus for supporting the resumption of the 2011 CBECS now goes to the Senate.

To view the CBECS House floor statements in the Congressional Record, please visit http://www.ashrae.org/advocacy/page/1348. The document will soon be posted to the Website, and will be located under the “Letters and Testimony” header.

House Passes Energy & Water Funding Bill

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Energy & Water appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012. Although final numbers are still being analyzed, the bill would likely reduce funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by $491 million, including reducing the State Energy Program (SEP) by $25 million, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) by $141.3 million, and the Building Technologies Program (BTP) by $60.5 million. All figures are compared to fiscal year 2011.

An effort was made to restore funds to fiscal year 2011 levels for SEP, WAP, and BTP in the form of an amendment offered by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Charles Bass (R-NH), however this amendment failed by a vote of 149 to 273.

An amendment was added to the appropriations bill that would repeal energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. This amendment (H.AMDT.678 to H.R. 2354) would repeal the so-called “100-watt light bulb ban”. This added provision must still hold up in the Senate, where support for this provision is unclear.

After Congress acts on the U.S. debt ceiling, the Senate will begin work on its own Energy & Water appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012. The Senate is waiting for this action to occur because overall spending levels may change depending on the deal that is brokered to raise the debt ceiling.

For additional information on the House Energy & Water appropriations bill, please visit the House Appropriations Committee at http://appropriations.house.gov/.

Senate Committee Amends, then Approves Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act

After making several amendments, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee approved the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 (S. 1000), clearing it for consideration on the Senate floor. Although the Committee approved the legislation, much work remains before it is debated and possibly passed in the Senate.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act would establish energy targets for ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for commercial and residential buildings, respectively. Under this bill, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would establish both aggregate and intermediate energy savings targets. If DOE determines that subsequent editions of Standard 90.1/IECC do not meet the energy targets, DOE may request changes to the relevant standard to meet the target, taking into consideration whether DOE’s proposed changes are technically feasible and life-cycle cost-effective, construction practices, and potential costs, savings, and other benefits for consumers and building owners, including the impact on overall building ownership and operating costs.

ASHRAE/the International Code Council (ICC) would have 180 days to incorporate these changes into 90.1/IECC. If ASHRAE/ICC does not incorporate these changes, DOE would create its own code to be used as the new national model building energy code for commercial/residential buildings. Such a code would be based on 90.1/IECC, but DOE may also consider other model codes or standards.

Major changes added to S. 1000 during consideration by the Energy & Natural Resources Committee include the deletion of the goal net-zero-energy for new commercial and residential buildings by 2030 for Standard 90.1 and the IECC. An amendment was also made to the bill that would protect the intellectual property rights of ASHRAE, ICC, and other nationally recognized code and standard developers if DOE uses all or part of 90.1, the IECC, or other codes and standards to establish model energy codes and standards for commercial and residential buildings.

The possible (“authorized”) funding level for the building codes section of S. 1000 was also increased from $100 million to $200 million. Additionally, the full cost of the bill would now be fully paid for.

Although the Energy & Natural Resources Committee approved the bill, Senate staff has committed to continue working with ASHRAE to further improve the bill.

ASHRAE Washington Office
1828 L Street, NW * Suite 906 * Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-1830 * fax: (202) 833-0118 * washdc@ashrae.org

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