By Steve Rizer
Of all the recent congressional activity to promote more energy-efficient structures across America, two developments stand out as perhaps having the biggest potential to impact the green-buildings community.
At the forefront of this legislative frenzy is the Energy Efficiency Improvement bill (S. 2971) that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced last week. It is identical in content and title to H.R. 2126, which passed the House earlier this year (ConstructionPro Week/CPW, Dec. 27, 2013, “Group Laments the Exclusion of Building Energy-Efficiency Provisions from the New Senate Tax Plan, But It Has Not Given Up Hope; CPW Profiles 26 Congressional Bills"). Title I of the proposal would encourage commercial building owners and their tenants to trim energy consumption via the Tenant Star Program, a voluntary certification and recognition endeavor. Title III would compel federal agencies to coordinate with the White House Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Energy to set guidelines for implementing energy-saving information technologies.
Because the House and Senate versions of this legislation are identical, there could be a relatively quick route to final passage if Senators approve S. 2971. “However, time is becoming a significant factor at this point due to the priority of reaching an agreement on a government spending bill,” Elizabeth Tate, Alliance to Save Energy’s (ASE) director of government relations, told CPW. Congress is scheduled to adjourn Jan. 3.
The American Public Power Association also supports this legislation.
Advocates also are eyeing possible movement on H.R. 5771, a piecemeal tax extenders bill that would lengthen energy-efficiency tax credits for commercial building improvements, homeowners, and home builders retroactively for 2014 only. The House approved the bill Dec. 3 by a 378-46 vote, and the Senate is expected to follow suit. However, ASE wants congressional leaders to extend the incentives beyond 2014.
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article contains additional details about these bills and four others for which recent developments have occurred.