Friday, December 16, 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 ( 
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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 12/16/2011
  • Congress Nears a Down Payment on New CBECS
  • Congress Passes National Defense Bill – Requires New Report on Standards 189.1-2011 and 90.1-2010 for Military Construction and Repair
  • DOE Releases New Version of Energy Modeling Software
  • Workshop Held on DOE’s Proposed Commercial Building Energy Asset Rating Program

Congress Nears a Down Payment on New CBECS
Unless plans unravel, today (or shortly thereafter), Congress will pass a funding deal that combines several bills into a single package, and averts a partial government shutdown. Tucked away in this massive, near $1 trillion bill, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law, is a down payment to conduct the next edition of the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS).

Conducted about once every four years, CBECS is a 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. The Survey is administered by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and is a prime example of one of those little known programs that underpin several public and private sector buildings programs and activities. For instance, CBECS data help form the basis for understanding the patterns of energy use, are used by ASHRAE’s standards, and are utilized by the ENERGY STAR Buildings program, ASHRAE’s Building Energy Quotient (Building eQ) building energy labeling program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Existing Buildings, Green Globes®, and many others.

ASHRAE and the building industry have been relying on CBECS data that is nearly a decade old (the latest data is from 2003), and without assistance from Congress, a new CBECS would not occur, and because there is no other survey like it, the needed information on building energy use could not otherwise be easily obtained. As a result, ASHRAE has been leading a coalition of building industry stakeholders to work with key Members of Congress to help ensure that a new CBECS is conducted.

For additional information, please contact ASHRAE’s Washington Office at

Congress Passes National Defense Bill – Requires New Report on Standards 189.1-2011 and 90.1-2010 for Military Construction and Repair
This week Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA). President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. The NDAA requires the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to issue a new report on the energy efficiency and sustainability standards used by DoD for military construction and repair. This report will include a cost-benefit analysis, return on investment, and long-term payback for ASHRAE Standard 189.1-2011 Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver, gold, and platinum certification, as well as LEED volume certification. Other, non-specified, American National Standards Institute-accredited standards may also be examined in the report as well.

ASHRAE assisted the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in drafting the ASHRAE building standards section of this bill, and many of our recommendations were incorporated into the final bill. ASHRAE has already reached out to DoD staff to begin understanding how this report may be assembled, and will be involved with the report, to the extent possible.

DOE Releases New Version of Energy Modeling Software
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the latest version of its building energy modeling software EnergyPlus, which calculates the energy required to heat, cool, ventilate, and light a building. EnergyPlus is used by architects and engineers to design more efficient buildings, by researchers to investigate new building and system designs, and by policymakers to develop energy codes and standards. Advanced physics calculations within EnergyPlus allow it to model a wide range of residential and commercial buildings and HVAC system types, including passive building designs and low-energy systems.

EnergyPlus v7.0 features many enhancements and has 25 to 40 percent faster execution speeds on a wide variety of models. EnergyPlus is a part of DOE's strategy of Building Energy Modeling (BEM), a key technology that helps achieve DOE's mission of significantly reducing energy consumption in new buildings and retrofits. In addition to helping architects and engineers find low-energy building designs, BEM is used in the development of building energy efficiency codes and standards, in the creation of energy design guides, in the certification of building energy performance, and other applications. EnergyPlus v7.0 is available free of charge for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Source code licenses are also available. For additional information, please see the DOE press release.

Workshop Held on DOE’s Proposed Commercial Building Energy Asset Rating Program
Last week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held a workshop on their proposed Commercial Building Energy Asset Rating (AR) Program. ASHRAE attended this two-day meeting, and previously submitted comments to an earlier request for comments from DOE. ASHRAE’s comments can be viewed at Click on the link titled “ASHRAE Comments to DOE on DOE’s Development of a Voluntary National Asset Rating Program for Commercial Buildings”, under the Letters and Testimony section of the Webpage.

DOE expects to issue a request for information on the design of their pilot AR Program in late February/early March, and to begin the pilot in April, 2012.

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