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Energy Cuts Try, Try, Try, Try Again

Thursday, March 19, 2015

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For the fourth time in five years, a bipartisan legislative effort is afoot to cut energy use in commercial and residential buildings.

The Portman-Shaheen Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act was reintroduced March 11 by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Official photos

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) hope the fourth time is the charm for their comprehensive energy bill, known as the Portman-Shaheen Bill.

The proposed legislation has failed to pass since 2011, despite garnering widespread support from environmental groups and business and industry leaders.

Reports say previous versions of the bill have failed due to political gridlock, and some think this time will be no different.

Passage is ‘Long Overdue’

“A vote to pass our legislation is long overdue, and I hope the overwhelming support behind this bill will help carry it through the Senate,” Shaheen said in a statement.

The bill stalled in Congress in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol

A key provision of the bill would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to partner with manufacturers to research, develop and commercialize new energy-efficient building technologies.

Among other provisions, the bill calls for:

  • Stronger building codes for residential and commercial buildings;
  • The greater use of energy-efficiency technologies in commercial and residential buildings and by manufacturers;
  • The Energy Department to work with manufacturers to research and commercialize new technologies; and
  • Construction worker training program for careers in efficient building design and operation.

A study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that the bill will create more than 190,000 jobs; save consumers $16.2 billion a year; and cut CO2 emissions and other air pollutants by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road—all by 2030, according to the senators.

Supporters, such as the American Chemistry Council and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, have applauded the senators for their dedication and tireless efforts, and urge Congress to pass the legislation this time around.

Architects Voice Opposition

However, not everyone is enamored with the bill’s current iteration.

The American Institute of Architects' President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, takes issue with an amendment that repeals Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

“It doesn't make sense that a bill touted to encourage energy conservation throughout the economy would eliminate a federal requirement that requires new and newly renovated federal buildings to do just that.”

AIA president

American Institute of Architects' President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, takes issue with an amendment that repeals a section of the 2007 energy law that phases out fossil fuels in new federal buildings and renovations.

Richter says the bill has language that would repeal a section of the 2007 energy law that phases out fossil fuels in new federal buildings and renovations.

The bill “eliminates the Federal Government from being able to lead by example worldwide when it comes to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” she said.

“Our more than 85,000 member architects stand ready to work with the bill’s authors to support energy conservation legislation that has a meaningful impact.”

The current bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE.), Al Franken (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). 


Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Commercial Construction; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Energy Star; Government; North America; Regulations

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