ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 119 - 08/04/2011

GBI Profiles 11 Congressional Bills Addressing Green Structures

Green Building Insider has profiled 11 bills undergoing congressional consideration that address green structures in some way. Among the topics the legislation covers are energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs, green building rating systems, the energy efficiency of hospitals, and greener schools. Here is a breakdown of each proposal:


H.R. 51 -- Rep. Gerald Connolly’s (D-Va.) Heat Island and Smog reduction bill is designed to help mitigate urban heat increases through “cool roofs” and other sources (GBI, Jan. 18, 2011, “Green Building Legislation Introduced in Congress, Several States”). By April 2012, each federal department or agency would develop a heat-island-reduction plan for all federal property and facilities that are under their possession or control and are located in an area that is designated under Section 107(d) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7407(d)) as being in nonattainment with the national ambient air quality standards for ozone. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reviewing the measure.


H.R. 91 (comparable bills: S. 395; H.R. 2417) -- Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) Better Use of Light Bulbs bill would establish requirements for the use of energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs in public building construction, alteration, and acquisition (GBI, Feb. 1, 2011, “Congressional Lawmaker Wants Manhattan Project for Green Buildings, Other Energy Objectives; States Take Action”). Also, the U.S. Department of Energy would conduct a “proactive” national program of consumer awareness, information, and education about lamp labels and energy-efficient lighting choices. The legislation is undergoing consideration in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.


H.R. 301 -- Rep. Randy Forbes’ (R-Va.) New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence would require the president to convene a summit to review the progress and promise of, the interrelationship of, and the additional funding needed for accelerating the progress of creating energy-efficient buildings that use no more than 50 percent of the energy of buildings of similar size and type (GBI, Feb. 1, 2011, “Congressional Lawmaker Wants Manhattan Project for Green Buildings, Other Energy Objectives; States Take Action”). The bill has two cosponsors. The measure is under review in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

S. 397 (comparable bill: H.R. 739) -- Sen. Michael Enzi’s (R-Wyo.) bill would provide that no federal or state requirement to increase energy-efficient lighting in public buildings shall require a hospital, school, day care center, mental health facility, or nursing home to install or use energy efficient lighting if that lighting contains mercury. Eight House committees are considering the legislation.


H.R. 438 -- Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) Energy Star Improvements bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy to, within two years, establish and implement a ratings system for Energy Star products to provide consumers with the most helpful information on the relative energy efficiency of those products. The requirement would be waived if the agencies communicate to Congress that establishing such a system would diminish the value of the Energy Star brand. Also, before permitting a product to be identified as an Energy Star product, the agencies would require the manufacturer to prove the compliance of the product with Energy Star criteria through testing at a certified independent laboratory. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power is reviewing the measure.


H.R. 627 -- Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s (D-Mo.) Home Energy Loss Prevention bill would prohibit a seller of housing that will be purchased with the assistance of a federally related housing loan from selling such housing unless the following three criteria are met: at least five years before the sale of such housing, an energy audit is conducted; the seller provides the purchaser a copy of audit results; and such results are submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity is considering the proposal.


H.R. 706 -- Rep. Eliot Engel’s (D-N.Y.) Hospital Energy Independence bill would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to establish a pilot program to award grants and loan guarantees to up to six hospitals for energy-conservation projects in fiscal 2011 and FY’12. The hospitals could include academic facilities that specialize in scientific research, provide patient care, and serve as health and medical education centers. The projects would be designed to “significantly” improve energy efficiency and encourage on-site power generation and energy storage capable of operating independent of the grid and providing sufficient on-site emergency backup power for essential hospital functions.


S. 902 -- Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) School Building Fairness bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to direct the U.S. Department of Education to allocate funds to states for competitive matching grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) for school repair, renovation, and construction. Each state, in awarding such grants to LEAs, would consider the extent to which they will comply with certain green building standards, among other things. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is reviewing the measure, which was introduced May 5.


H.R. 1499 -- Rep. John Shimkus’ (R-Ill.) SDHV Energy Efficiency Standards for America bill would amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to revise energy-conservation standards for central air conditioners and central air conditioning heat pumps. The measure would require the seasonal energy efficiency ratio of small-duct, high-velocity systems to be at least 11.00 for products manufactured on or after Jan. 23, 2006, and the heating seasonal performance factor of such systems to be 6.8 for products manufactured on or after that date. 


H.R. 1611 -- Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-N.Y.) Clean Energy Business Zone bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow financing of any qualified green building or clean energy facility with clean renewable energy bonds, among other things. The legislation additionally would amend the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to waive loan fees for qualified green building and clean energy facility loans made before 2022. The bill is undergoing consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Small Business Committee.


H.R. 1881 -- Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s (D-N.M.) Community College Energy Training bill would direct the U.S. Department of Energy, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor, to create a program awarding grants to community colleges to provide workforce training and education in sustainable energy industries and practices, such as high-performance green building construction, design, and redevelopment; water, energy, and resource conservation; sustainable energy technologies; and other areas. The House Education and the Workforce Committee is reviewing the legislation, which has 32 cosponsors.




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