Bipartisan Bill Aims to Boost Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 1, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — President Obama today signed into law a bipartisan energy efficiency bill – the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 – that includes legislation previously introduced by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to boost the use of energy efficient technology by tenants in commercial buildings. The bill, authored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), includes the Bennet-Ayotte Better Buildings Act, which encourages tenants of commercial buildings to voluntarily implement cost-effective measures that will help reduce energy consumption and ultimately utility costs for businesses. Ayotte and Bennet first introduced the bill in 2013, and Ayotte is also a cosponsor of the Portman-Shaheen bill.
“This bipartisan legislation is an important step toward increasing energy efficiency across the public and private sectors,” said Ayotte. “I’m also pleased the bill includes our Better Buildings Act, a commonsense, no-cost measure that would incentivize commercial tenants to voluntarily implement cost-effective measures to responsibly reduce energy consumption.”
The Better Buildings Act encourages tenants of commercial buildings to implement cost-effective measures that will help reduce energy consumption and ultimately utility costs for businesses. As building owners across the country strive to distinguish their buildings with the voluntary ENERGY STAR label to help attract tenants and satisfy investors, this bill creates a new voluntary “Tenant Star” certification to reward and recognize tenants that design and construct high-performance leased spaces.
To date, the focus has been on how real estate owners and developers may lower energy consumption at the “whole-building” level. However, office tenants like data centers, law firms, banks, trading floors, restaurants, and retail stores use a lot of energy – especially in areas experiencing large growth and development. The Better Buildings Act takes a holistic approach by considering office tenants’ impact on energy consumption and behaviors.
In addition to the “Tenant Star” designation, the bill asks the Department of Energy to study and learn from private sector “best practices” of how commercially-leased spaces are designed to achieve high performance and help reduce utility costs for businesses.
Dozens of organizations from the real estate sector, construction industry and environmental advocacy, among others have endorsed the bill, including the Real Estate Roundtable, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Real Estate Roundtable, and the U.S. Green Building Council.