I recently had the chance to travel to Washington, D.C. and brief U.S. Senate staff on building energy efficiency, immediately in advance of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee vote on the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 (S.1000), sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The bill just passed the Committee with strong bipartisan support. Here is a summary of the discussion, and my presentation to U.S. Senate staff on reducing energy in buildings.
Our discussion focused primarily on building energy codes and building energy rating. The elements of the Shaheen-Portman bill regarding codes is particularly relevant, especially in light of the developments of some states that took millions of dollars of Department of Energy funding under the Recovery Act, under the condition that they not only update their building energy code to the latest model code, but also develop plans for achieving 90 percent compliance with that code within eight years - and then decided to renege on those promised code updates and compliance plans. In at least one of those instances - in the state of Maine - opponents of energy codes tried to paint them as some new attempt at government overreach or over-regulation. Our discussions in Washington, however, presented a very different perspective, particularly information presented by my colleague Lowell Unger of the Alliance to Save Energy that a large majority of the American public - some 82 percent - expect their interests to be safeguarded by a building code when moving into a property. That doesn't sound like over-regulation to me, especially when we consider that the concept of holding builders to a code in the interests of public safety began with Hammurabi circa 3,000 B.C. Codes, of course, were broadly adopted in their modern form in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century, largely at the insistence of the insurance industry, a liberal bastion of government overreach if I ever saw one.
See my presentation to U.S. Senate Staff on reducing energy in buildings here:
Building energy code stakeholders from around the country will gather in Salt Lake City this week for the annual Department of Energy "Energy Codes 2011" conference. The agenda for this week looks decidedly different than just four or five years ago, very much reflecting the public policy focus being placed on energy codes in jurisdictions - state and local - all over the country. Officials recognize that a building energy code - representing the minimum standard that a building can be built to under law - is a highly cost-effective tool to advance consumer protection, vast energy savings, energy independence and security, economic development, jobs creation and environmental protection.
NEEP is proud to work closely with the Department of Energy and a number of stakeholders in our region on energy codes. Our Model Progressive Building Energy Code Policy lays out a comprehensive approach for how states can approach issues of code development, adoption, education and compliance, as well as how other related policies, such as the adoption of a "stretch code" or of policies requiring rating and disclosure of a building's energy performance, can make codes even that much more effective.
Stay tuned here as well as to our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages for updates from the codes conference in Salt Lake City. And stay informed on the latest developments of regional and national building energy policy advancements, including the the Shaheen-Portman bill, with NEEP's bi-weekly Policy Tracker.