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Public Policy

The U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote S 535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015. This legislative package is a no-cost, no-mandate bill that helps advance energy efficiency through reduced regulatory burden, increased transparency, and a focus on the federal government as a first mover to save taxpayer dollars on energy bills. The bill was passed by the Senate on March 27, 2015, by voice vote and is now on its way to President Obama for signature. Read more...
Shaheen-Portman…on a Diet. After years of inability to pass a comprehensive energy package, the US Senate passed a slimmed-down bill just after 4:00 AM Friday morning—with the only Senators present at the time being Shaheen and Portman. This legislation was passed via Unanimous Consent (UC), meaning no official recorded vote required. Void of controversial provisions, such as; Obamacare, Keystone or immigration—which has plagued this bill in the passed—this bill will now move to the House for consideration. With the House passing similar legislation in the past, it is likely they will pass this more narrowly focused bill soon. Sens. Portman and Shaheen both indicated they plan introduced a bill containing provisions that were left out.

EPA Water Rule Faces Wave of Criticism from States. At a Senate Hearing this week, state officials from across the country registered near universal opposition to the EPA’s much-maligned Clean Water Act rule. The proposal, which would replace regulations in place for more than 25 years, redefines which streams, wetlands and other bodies of water are regulated under the landmark 1972 federal law on water pollution and quality standards.
S.535 is the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and is the Senate version of H.R. 873 (which is the current version of H.R. 2126 from the previous Congress sponsored by our friends Welch and McKinley). This bill is also known as the “Better Buildings Act”. The provisions of S.535 are as follows:

1. DOE, after receiving public comment, is to develop model commercial lease language which would align the interests of building owners and tenants with regards to energy and water efficiency measures and improvements
2. DOE shall perform a feasibility study to determine the viability of and methodology for accomplishing #1
3. Institute a “Tenant Star” program which would assist and recognize building tenants who invest in energy and water efficiency
4. Develop regulations governing the application and operation of grid-enabled electric hot water heaters
5. Require a study of the impact of benchmarking of energy costs of commercial buildings that do not have an Energy Star label. Some cities already require energy benchmarking (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and 7-8 others). This study would look at impacts of doing this on an national level, evaluate best practices, and determine problem areas such as building types, compliance issues, etc.
New York, NY (Revised February 25, 2015) The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), praises New York Governor Cuomo for signing into law the bill, “Restricts the Luminous Power of Lighting Fixtures Installed or Maintained by the State,” which establishes requirements for outdoor lighting installed by state agencies. The bill requires the use of properly shielded luminaires to prevent unnecessary up- and side-lighting, thereby reducing light trespass and sky glow. The bill also states that installations shall comply with minimum IES recommendations.
ATLANTA - Following preliminary analysis that ASHRAE/IES's 2013 energy efficiency standard contains energy savings over the 2010 standard - 8.5 percent source energy savings and 7.6 site energy savings - the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a ruling that establishes the 2013 standard as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes.

In an announcement in the Sept. 26, 2014 edition of "The Federal Register," DOE attributes the greater energy savings to improvements in ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2013, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, related to several areas, including better lighting, fans, commercial refrigeration, boilers and controls.

The determination means that states are required to update their codes to meet or exceed the 2013 standard within two years. Currently, states must meet or exceed the 2010 standard, which serves as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes under the federal Energy Conservation and Production Act.

"ASHRAE is pleased with this ruling from the DOE, recognizing the energy savings measures in the standard," ASHRAE President Tom Phoenix said. "Standard 90.1 was an original cornerstone in our efforts to improve building performance, and we continue to strive to increase its efficiency in the future."

Among the eight addenda that are identified as having a major positive impact on energy efficiency, IES notes that three are attributed to lighting changes according to Rita Harrold, IES director of technology. These address control requirements for lighting alterations, additional controls for more spaces with a shortened time to lighting reduction or shutoff, and a decrease in lighting power density in most building types to reflect changes in revisions to illuminance recommendations in the IES Lighting Handbook, 10th edition.

The DOE noted that the 2013 standard contains 52 positive impacts on energy efficiency that were incorporated into the analysis. These impacts included changes made through the public review process in which users of the standard comment and offer guidance on proposed requirements. Specifically the major positive impacts include:

• Control requirements for lighting alternations
• New requirements for individual fans
• Reduction of energy usage for large boilers
• Reduction of fan energy usage
• New efficiency requirements for commercial refrigeration
• More controls in more spaces and reduction of time to reduction or shut off of those controls
• Reduction of lighting power density in most building types

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its more than 50,000 members worldwide focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today. More information can be found at www.ashrae.org/news.
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.
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