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Legislative Updates

Government Relations Updates from U.S. and U.E.

Senate Energy Bill Focuses on Built Environment

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has introduced legislation (S. 963) that places a primary focus on improving efficiency measures in the built environment. It would set energy efficiency standards for new federal agencies, along with requiring federal agencies to release reports that detail everything from water usage to emissions levels from their buildings.

It would also require that energy usage data be made available for each building within the agency, as well as how much energy individual building systems use, including heating, air conditioning and lighting. The proposed reports would need to include how each agency is meeting their greenhouse gas and energy reduction targets. The Government Accountability Office would need to issue an annual report on the amount of money and energy saved from reduced energy usage.

Any new federal building would need to meet requirements set by the secretary of energy, or in absence of such standards, be 30 percent more energy efficient than what is typically recommended by industry-designed efficiency standards. Smart meters are also included in the bill, and federal agencies would be required to utilize them to monitor energy use. The legislation is in the Senate and Natural Resources Committee awaiting further consideration.

NIBS Consultative Council to Release Findings

As part of the National High Performance Buildings Week, May 23-29, the Consultative Council, a section of the National Institute of Building Sciences, is issuing its 2010 findings and recommendations for the built environment.

Among the six major sections identified for 2010 is “Education and Training.” The report acknowledges that education and training within the building community must reflect the complex and specific needs for each building.

The facility manager is listed as an “essential audience” and key component for involvement in the training sections. The report also highlights the need to continue education and training for facility managers and others, as best practices often become stale and newer equipment is continually being introduced into the environment. This continuing education component should not be limited to facility managers, but should also cover constructional aspects and other building components.

The full report is available on the NIBS website at www.nibs.org.

High Performance Building Data Put on Hold - Task Group Forming

The Energy Information Administration recently announced that the 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey will be suspended due to budget cuts. Since that initial announcement, the EIA has also formally announced that due to statistical errors, the 2007 survey will not be released. Given the impact this news has on the industry and the need for data on building performance relative to other high-performance building attributes, the NIBS will be launching a High Performance Building Data Collection Initiative. Currently, the latest data available from the EIA is from 2003.

NIBS noted that this effort will require broad participation from across the building community to determine data needs, collection opportunities and dissemination of results. IFMA will continue it contact with the NIBS to determine how best to participate.

DOE Announces Guide for 50 Percent More Energy Efficient Office Buildings

Last week, the Department of Energy announced the first in a new series of Advanced Energy Design Guides created to aid architects and engineers in the design of highly energy efficient office buildings. This series aims to provide a practical approach toward commercial buildings, with an overall goal of 50 percent energy savings compared to more traditional commercial building energy codes. These commercial building guides support President Barack Obama’s goal to reduce energy use in commercial buildings 20 percent by 2020.

The guides also provide recommendations on how designers can incorporate available technology to achieve these savings. The AEDGs will help architects and engineers choose energy efficient designs for daylighting, building envelope assemblies, and heating and cooling systems. The guides also recommend equipment commonly available from manufacturers that may reduce the time and costs otherwise required to individually model energy use for high performance buildings. Additionally, the guides will provide guidance on the development of future commercial building energy codes.

The Advanced Energy Design Guides may be downloaded (at no cost) at http://aedg.ashrae.org.

U.S. Congress Returns from Recess to Focus on Energy

September 2010

It is anticipated that Democrats will take up a limited energy bill when they return to session later this month. Proposals for a renewable energy standard (RES), energy efficiency requirements and goals for the built environment, along with incentives for nuclear energy may be among the items considered. The RES being debate at the moment would require energy companies to acquire 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

Smaller legislative vehicles, such as the “Home Star” Act, may also be considered this fall. The Home Star initiative establishes a $6 billion rebate program to encourage immediate investment in energy-efficient appliances, building mechanical systems and insulation, and whole-home energy efficiency retrofits. To address energy efficiency efforts in the commercial sector, “Building Star,” introduced earlier this year by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) would provide financial incentives for owners of commercial buildings and multifamily residential buildings to retrofit their buildings with energy efficient building equipment

These efforts may be pushed into a “lame duck” session, which may be called into order after the November mid-term elections, but prior to the January 2011 swearing in of new members. Democratic leaders have indicated that a full scale cap and trade program, or other measures that cap or price emissions and energy usage, would likely not be considered as part of the legislation.

Since oil spill legislation failed passage prior to the August recess, Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) may seek amended language that would protect smaller oil companies from a proposed higher liability cap, in order to gain needed support. Due to the complexity of the oil spill legislation, this bill may need to be considered separately and may not be included in an overall energy package.

Global Government Relations

As part of IFMA’s continued effort to provide information and perspective to law makers at all levels of government, the association is pleased to announce the newest phase of our government affairs program. IFMA has contracted with Association Global Services (AGS), a Brussels based government affairs firm, to provide regular updates on activity in the European Union that will affect the facility management profession.

We are hopeful that these updates will provide much needed information to our European members and also provide context for ongoing debate about building performance currently taking place in Washington, D.C.

European Union Facility Management Update

If you would like information about the EU monitoring program or can contribute feedback, please contact IFMA Director of Government Affairs Jeffrey Johnson at jeffrey.johnson@ifma.org.