Late Tuesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, a bipartisan measure containing three key provisions of the long-stalled Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill. The most significant piece of the legislation is the creation of Tenant Star, a voluntary certification and recognition program run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency to promote energy efficiency during the design and occupancy of a leased space. The bill also exempts certain water heaters from new DOE energy efficiency regulations and requires federally leased buildings without Energy Star labels to benchmark their energy usage data. President Obama is expected to sign the bill later this week.
After three failed attempts in Congress, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) reintroduced the bill to the Senate in March. The AIA initially opposed the bill due to a controversial amendment that would repeal Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the federal government's 2030 fossil fuel target reduction mandate. That amendment was removed in the final version of the bill, which passed, causing the AIA to throw its support behind the legislation. “As architects, we heartily support this bipartisan measure that promotes energy efficiency in industrial, commercial, and residential applications,” said AIA president Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, in a press release. “This piece of legislation demonstrates that good energy efficiency policy can pass without being hampered by ulterior political motives. We commend Senators Portman and Shaheen on their persistence and stewardship of truly consensus based energy efficiency improvements.”
In a press release, Portman said he will continue working on the passage of the larger Shaheen-Portman Bill which includes the repeal of the federal government's 2030 targets. A hearing is planned for April 30 in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to discuss this legislation, among other energy efficiency bills.