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Public Policy

The Department of Energy has issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice of technical correction concerning test procedures for fluorescent lamp ballasts. (October 14, 2014).

  • Find product information about current standards and test procedures; recent product updates; waivers, exceptions, and exemptions; the statutory authority; historical information; and contact information.

  • All notices, public comments, public meeting transcripts, and supporting documents associated with this rulemaking are included in Docket No. EERE-2009-BT-TP-0016-0017.

  • Find information about how to comment. The public comment period closes no later than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.



This email is part of an effort by the Department of Energy to notify all interested persons of recently issued Federal Register notices and other significant program developments under the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program.
According to sources and their “informed speculation”, there is pessimism as to the amount of real legislative activity during the lame duck session following the November 2014 elections. Since there is a possibility that the Senate majority may change to Republican, then the nomination process to Senate leadership and the numerous committees will take precedence. Two states will probably have runoffs (LA and GA) which will delay activity even further.

Either way, the progress of two important bills – the Shaheen/Portman energy bill and the tax extenders bill S. 2189 (which includes the Commercial Building Tax Deduction) – will be slow or non-existent. It looks like I’ll be continuing to report on these in the 114th Congress starting in January. Watch this space….
Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
They were honored for their work with light-emitting diodes, cited as the lighting source of the 21st century. Dr. Akasaki and Dr. Amano are Japanese citizens, and Dr. Nakamura is an American citizen. Click here for the New York Times article: http://nyti.ms/1Eo8xRu
As mentioned in my recent column on the subject, the New York State Legislature passed the Outdoor Lighting bill which had broad support from both the advocates and the lighting industry. While passed earlier this year, the bill is still awaiting signature from Governor Cuomo. It does not appear that it will be vetoed – just a matter of the Governor’s priorities. Watch this space for updates…
In order to reduce confusion and possible redundancy and invite wider acceptance, IES, ASHRAE, ICC, USGBC, and the AIA have agreed to harmonize three major “green” initiatives: ASHRAE/IES Standard 189.1, the ICC’s International green Construction Code (IgCC), and the USGBC’s LEED award program. Click here to read the IES press release, dated Aug. 21, 2014.
Effective June 13, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has suspended the L Prize PAR38 Competition, and no entries will be accepted at this time.

The L Prize Competition launched in 2008 as the first government-sponsored technology competition designed to spur development of ultra-efficient, high-performance LED replacement products. A winning entry in the 60W replacement lamp category was awarded the first L Prize in 2011, but no entries have been received in the PAR38 category.

The competition sets reach targets for industry, and current LED PAR38 products on the market fall far short of reaching the rigorous L Prize targets, making it unlikely DOE will receive a qualifying entry in a reasonable amount of time. DOE cannot lower the efficacy target because it was set by Congress. DOE will continue to monitor the PAR38 market for performance and price improvements, to consider reopening the competition at a later date.

Best regards,
Jim Brodrick
The U.S. Department of Energy has published a fact sheet that looks at what's known—and not known—about the effects of lighting on human health, with specific reference to LEDs. Entitled Lighting for Health: LEDs in the New Age of Illumination, it's based on a recent article by 14 leading researchers, which appeared in the journal Trends in Neurosciences. The article focused on the current state of knowledge about nonvisual photoreception and how it can be applied in the field today.

Recent research has greatly advanced our understanding that light not only enables vision, but is also a critical signal to our biological systems, affecting circadian rhythms, pupillary response, alertness, and more. However, applying early research findings to widespread lighting practices must be done with great caution, if it's ready to be done at all.

Inherently, LEDs are neither more hazardous nor more beneficial to human health than any other type of light source, but their spectral power distribution can be engineered to maximize human health and productivity—provided that the parameters for doing so are known. However, our understanding of those parameters is incomplete, and light that's beneficial during the day may be harmful at night, and its effect may vary significantly between individuals in a given space.

At present, there are many details to be considered, but few definitive answers to important questions about the effect of light on different users. Specifiers and consumers must understand that no lighting product is a panacea, that any benefits are dependent on the proper use of the product, and that without a thorough understanding, harm may even be done.

To learn more about this complex topic, see the fact sheet, which is available at www.ssl.energy.gov/factsheets.html.
The current version of the Shaheen/Portman energy bill (S.2074) has numerous changes compared to the previous version (S. 1392) from last year. Many of these changes are the result of amendments, the content of which was obtained from other energy-related bills proposed by both the Senate and the House. Click here to go to the comparison found on the Alliance to Save Energy’s website.
Legislation extending and improving upon incentives for energy efficiency in commercial buildings has been introduced in the Senate. The Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives Act (S.2189) introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) includes language that would reinstate and improve the Commercial Building Tax Deduction, which expired on December 31, 2013.

Commercial buildings use about 20% of domestic energy consumption, therefore, they are an obvious and important target for energy savings. Existing buildings are the low-hanging fruit for realizing short term results from energy saving investments. Addressing existing buildings also produces jobs in the short term and if ESPCs (performance contractors) are utilized, the investment would come from private capital rather than from public funding.

The Commercial Building Tax Deduction has its origin in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The CBTD is referred to as the 179D tax deduction, named after Section 179D of the IRS tax code. While hundreds of millions of dollars of energy efficiency modifications have been made, even more is expected if and when the new bill passes due to the increase in deductions over the previous $1.80 per square foot maximum. The recently expired program produced jobs in manufacturing, construction, and contracting; the same is probable from the new program.
On March 5, the House passed H.R. 2126, The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 by an overwhelming margin of 375-36. The bill was sponsored by Repr. McKinley (R-WV) and Repr. Peter Welch (D-VT). The bill supports creation of a “Tenant Star” program, originally proposed in the Better Buildings Act. The program encourages tenants in multi-tenant buildings to perform energy efficiency modifications. The bill also directs the federal government to employ energy efficiency measures in data centers, it adjusts standards for grid-enabled hot water heaters, and establishes energy benchmarking and reporting requirements for commercial buildings.
The provisions in this bill are included in the Senate version S. 2074 (the famous Shaheen/Portman bill). H.R. 2126 has now been referred to the Senate Energy Committee.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) welcomed President Obama's announcement today that the U.S. will accelerate implementation of a system to facilitate international trade in goods that meet U.S. safety, efficiency, and environmental standards. The system, known as the "single window", is administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Through an Executive Order, President Obama set a 2016 target date for full implementation of CBP's International Trade Data System (ITDS). >> More.
The Low Vision Design Committee, established in November, 2011, by the National Institute of Building Sciences, focuses on development of design principles and regulatory guidelines for creating safer and more accommodating environments for the growing population of people with low vision. The program is the offspring of the seminal Workshop on Improving Building Design for Persons with Low Vision, held in Washington, DC, in September 2010. Like the workshop, the Low Vision Design Program emphasizes collaborative efforts among federal agencies, the design professions, and the medical community. For details, click here.
The U.S. DOE has published its 2014 Project Portfolio for Solid State Lighting. Go to http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/2014_ssl-project-portfolio.pdf to read or download a copy.
Ten cities were selected to participate in the City Energy Project, a joint initiative of the Institute for Market Transformation and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Click here for more information.
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