By Steve Rizer
Energy-efficiency advocates were dealt a blow earlier this month when a key congressional senator declined to include provisions promoting building energy efficiency in the package of energy tax reform proposals that he unveiled, but the group has not given up hope.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) lamented that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate Finance Committee’s chairperson, opted not to include in his plan a mechanism for incentivizing energy efficiency in both new and existing buildings. The group of 400-plus electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers considers measures encouraging energy efficiency to be “vital components of any plan to cut emissions and increase energy security” and will maintain its pursuit on this front.
NEMA was hoping that Baucus would have included in his plan a provision to establish a “technology neutral” tax deduction to encourage installation of equipment and systems to maximize or improve energy efficiency in buildings. Eligibility would be determined using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) building rating and labeling system. For new buildings, the tax incentive would be based on the bEQ level achieved after the initial 12-18 months of actual operation of the building. For retrofits of existing buildings, the incentive would be based on the following: the post-retrofit bEQ level achieved; and the extent of the energy savings, indicated by the improvement in pre- and post-retrofit bEQ levels.
In response to ConstructionPro Week’s (CPW) questions about what NEMA intends to do in pushing for adoption of its preferred green-building tax policy, NEMA Vice President of Strategy and Policy Charles Konigsberg said, “We are currently working on comments to submit to Sen. Baucus.” He reported that his organization has “nothing to add at this time” beyond what is included in the following three documents that it submitted to Congress earlier this year, “except to say that we look forward to working with the Finance Committee to include energy-efficiency incentives as a vital part of any tax-incentives package aimed at reducing emissions and enhancing energy security:"
In addition to this coverage of the energy tax reform proposal, CPW has profiled 26 congressional bills that have been introduced since our last update in March (CPW, March 22, 2013, "CPW Profiles 74 Green Building Bills that State and Congressional Lawmakers Have Introduced this Year"). Lawmakers will have another year to decide the fate of these and all other bills introduced during the 113th Congress. Among the bills profiled are the following:
H.R. 1659 -- Rep. Peter Welch’s (D-Vt.) Federal Buildings Energy Savings bill would amend the National Energy Conservation Policy Act to direct each federal agency to implement requirements for the use of energy- and water-efficiency measures in federal buildings through private financing instead of appropriations unless to do so conflicts with the primary mission of the agency or facility or if greater cost savings can be generated under a different program.
H.R. 2126 -- Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W.Va.) Better Buildings bill would compel the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop and publish model leasing provisions for use in leasing documents that designate a federal agency as a landlord or tenant to encourage building owners and tenants to invest in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.
H.R. 2598 -- Rep. James Langevin’s (D-R.I.) Building Efficiently bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to establish, for depreciation purposes, a 25-year recovery period for qualified energy-efficient nonresidential real property and a 20-year recovery period for qualified energy-efficient residential rental property.
All of the profiles can be accessed in the ConstructionPro Network member version of this article.