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House committee approves ‘Better Buildings Act’

Those who support  energy efficiency legislation received welcome news from Congress this week in the form of a bill that would help save energy in America’s commercial buildings. H.R. 2126, the “Better Buildings Act of 2013,” was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday morning.

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to do a study that “identifies voluntary best practices for commercial building owners and tenants to consider in designing and constructing new tenant spaces” to improve energy efficiency. It would create model leasing provisions for landlords and tenants as well as a “Tenant Star” voluntary recognition program, according to the Committee.

It already “has bipartisan backing from its sponsors, Reps. David McKinley and Peter Welch, and is a nod to Congress’s recent track record of getting broad support behind only narrow issues like energy efficiency,” Politico reported in a Tuesday morning news digest. Chairman Upton praised its “market-driven, voluntary, ‘best practices’ approach.”

“Finding ways to use energy efficiently is common sense. We ought to be promoting efficiency as a way to save energy, money and create jobs,” McKinley said in a statement.

See more coverage from Bloomberg BNA | The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register | Energy Efficiency Markets.

According to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), enactment of the bill would cut consumer and business energy costs by nearly $2 billion by 2030, and reduce CO2 emissions by 11.75 million metric tons over the same period.

Joint letter of support

A joint letter (pasted below) from a diverse group of 36 businesses and organizations, including the American Chemistry Council and Dow Chemical, was sent to E&C Committee members on Monday urging approval and asking for their help in ensuring the bill is brought to the House floor as quickly as possible.

According to the letter:

The business sector; state and local governments; consumer, environmental, efficiency and other interest groups… have all united in their firm belief that energy efficiency legislation represents sound energy policy for our country.

As the groups point out, several other energy efficiency bills are still up for consideration by the Committee, which, together with favorable action on H.R. 2126, would “usher in a new era of action on legislation that can improve U.S. energy productivity and security while also creating jobs and improving our environment.”

Click to read the joint letter.

January 27, 2014

Honorable Fred Upton, Chair

Honorable Henry Waxman, Ranking Member

Committee on Energy and Commerce

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman and Ranking Member:

We write to applaud and thank you for the decision to bring forward H.R. 2126, The Better Buildings Act, for consideration by the full Committee this week. As a broad and diverse group of businesses, public sector interest groups and others, we urge you to favorably report H.R. 2126 and then to work with us to ensure that the bill is brought to the House floor for passage as quickly as possible.

Why do we seek favorable consideration and swift passage of the bill introduced by Committee members David McKinley and Peter Welch? The answer is simple but profoundly important for our country. The bill helps to reduce energy use from the built environment which is the largest consuming energy sector in our economy. ACEEE has estimated that enactment of H.R. 2126 will cut consumer and business energy costs by nearly $2 billion by 2030 and will reduce CO2 emissions by 11.75 million metric tons over the same period.

The business sector; state and local governments; consumer, environmental, efficiency and other interest groups — who often have as divergent positions on issues as do Members of Congress — have all united in their firm belief that energy efficiency legislation represents sound energy policy for our country. There are a number of other energy efficiency bills also pending before your Committee that, like H.R. 2126, have been introduced on a bi-partisan basis and enjoy the support of a broad and diverse constituency.

We are very hopeful that favorable Committee action on H.R. 2126 — the first energy efficiency bill to be considered by your Committee in this Congress — will usher in a new era of action on legislation that can improve U.S. energy productivity and security while also creating jobs and improving our environment.

Again, we appreciate the work of you and your Committee and we stand ready to support your efforts on this and other bi-partisan energy efficiency bills in any way we can.

Alliance to Save Energy

American Chemistry Council

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

American Institute of Architects

ASHRAE

Big Ass Fans

Conservation Services Group

Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship

Cree, Inc.

DESSC

The Dow Chemical Company

Earth Day Network

Efficiency.org

Energy Future Coalition

Environment America

Environmental and Energy Study Institute

Grundfos

Illuminating Engineering Society

IMT

Interfaith Power & Light

International Association of Lighting Designers

Johnson Controls

Knauf Insulation

Large Public Power Council

Legrand

NAESCO

National Association for State Community Services Program

National Association of State Energy Officials

National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Philips

Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association

Seattle City Light

Siemens Building Technologies, Inc.

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now

The Stella Group, Ltd.

Window and Door Manufacturers Association

cc: Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

1 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “Economic Impacts of the Energy Efficiency Provisions in the Energy Savings & Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 and Select Amendments,” 2013. http://aceee.org/files/pdf/white-paper/shaheen-portman-2013.pdf (analysis of the Senate companion bill)

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