Article Date: 03/22/2013

CPW Profiles 74 Green Building Bills that State and Congressional Lawmakers Have Introduced this Year

By Steve Rizer


Are changes to green building policies coming to your area sometime in the not-too-distant future? To help answer this question for you, ConstructionPro Week has compiled a list of 74 bills relating to green buildings that state and congressional legislators have introduced this year. Proposals address a wide variety of issues, ranging from energy audits at certain federal facilities to the formation of a Nonresidential Building Energy Retrofit Financing Program in California to the creation of a “green walls” tax abatement in New York. The list includes the following eight congressional measures and 66 state bills (with summaries of and hyperlinks for the state bills being accessible to ConstructionPro Network members. To join ConstructionPro Network, click here):


Here are summaries of individual congressional bills that have been introduced this year:


S. 52 -- Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) Promoting Efficiency and Savings in Government bill would require each energy manager of a building owned by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to carry out an audit of that building that: (1) identifies any modification necessary to improve energy efficiency that, within 10 years of implementation, will result in energy cost savings equal to the total investment made; and (2) quantifies the estimated cost-savings associated with any identified efficiency improvements. GSA would report all efficiency improvements identified in the audit, the total estimated cost-savings associated with the efficiency improvements, and the status of implementation of the efficiency improvements. The bill would require each lease of a building or space entered into by a federal department or agency to include the following: a maximum energy intensity standard; a lighting efficiency requirement, accounting for appropriate task lighting; and an incentive structure that allows a department or agency leasing the building or space and the building owner to share the financial savings of efficiency investments and efficient operating practices. The measure further would amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to require the federal director of GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings to include in the report to Congress a summary of the energy and water use of federal buildings. The bill, undergoing consideration in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has no cosponsors.


H.R.115 -- Rep. Rush Holt’s (D-N.J.) School Building Enhancement bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Education to provide grants to the following: states and local educational agencies (LEAs) for providing intensive technical assistance for, and assisting the implementation of, the EnergySmart Schools Program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star for K-12 School Districts program; LEAs that become partners through Energy Star; and states for use in the development, in partnership with DOE, of state-level school energy efficiency quality plans. The bill would require the Education Department to give priority to projects to provide assistance to state and local educational agencies with a demonstrated need for energy efficiency improvement. The legislation has three cosponsors and is under House Education and the Workforce Committee review.


H.R. 123 -- Rep. Rush Holt’s (D-N.J.) Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use bill would establish within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a WaterSense program to identify and promote water efficient products, buildings and landscapes, and services to reduce water use, conserve energy, and preserve water resources. The bill would direct EPA to promote, publicize, and administer the program. The proposal would compel federal agencies to purchase WaterSense products or services or a Federal Energy Management Program-designated product through their procurement processes. The bill also would create a program to provide financial incentives for consumer purchase and installation of residential water efficient products and services. The proposal, which has one cosponsor, is undergoing consideration in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness.


H.R. 184 -- Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-N.Y.) Mechanical Insulation Installation Incentive bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow an additional tax deduction for the cost of installing mechanical insulation property. The legislation would limit the amount of such deduction to the lesser of 30 percent or the reduction in energy loss from the installed mechanical insulation property compared to property that meets the minimum requirements of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 90.1-2007. The bill would allow the cost of replacing mechanical insulation property to be treated as a deductible business expense in the current taxable year. The bill would define “mechanical insulation property” as insulation materials, facings, and accessory products that are “placed in service in connection with a mechanical system that is located in the United States and of a character subject to an allowance for depreciation and [are] utilized for thermal, acoustical, and personnel safety requirements for mechanical piping and equipment, hot and cold applications, and heating, venting and air conditioning applications that can be used in a variety of facilities.” The bill would allow a tax deduction for capital expenditures related to mechanical insulation property. The legislation has seven cosponsors and is under House Ways and Means Committee review.


S. 291 -- Rep. Jack Reed’s (D-R.I.) Healthy Housing Council bill would establish within the Executive Branch an independent Interagency Council on Healthy Housing. The council would review federal programs and services that provide housing, health, energy, or environmental services to families and individuals; monitor, evaluate, and recommend improvements in programs and services administered, funded, or financed by federal, state, and local agencies; suggest ways to reduce duplication among federal programs and services; and ensure collaboration among and within agencies in the provision and availability of such programs and services. The bill, which has four cosponsors, is undergoing consideration in the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.


S. 332 -- Under Section 201 of Sen. Bernard Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Climate Protection bill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would establish a Sustainable Technologies Finance Program to provide loans, credit instruments, loan guarantees, and other financial assistance, including in the form of assistance for public-private partnerships, for eligible projects carried out in the United States that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Projects that would be eligible to receive financial assistance through the program include those focusing on energy efficiency, combined heat and power, photovoltaic energy, and other areas. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is considering the measure, which has one cosponsor.


H.R. 540 -- Rep. Anna Eshoo’s (D-Calif.) Energy Efficient Government Technology bill would amend the National Energy Conservation Policy Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to promote energy efficiency via information and computing technologies. Each federal agency would collaborate with the White House Office of Management and Budget to develop an implementation strategy (including best-practices and measurement and verification techniques) for the maintenance, purchase, and use by the federal agency of energy-efficient and energy-saving information and communications technologies and practices. Each implementation strategy would be “flexible, cost-effective, and based on the specific operating requirements and statutory mission of the agency.” The legislation, which has 14 cosponsors, is undergoing review in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power.


H.R. 643 -- Rep. Michael Burgess’ (R-Texas) bill would prohibit state and federal requirements for increasing energy efficient lighting in public buildings from forcing a hospital, school, day care center, mental health facility, or nursing home to install or use energy efficient lighting that contains mercury. The bill does not have a cosponsor and is undergoing consideration in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power as well as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.



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