Bryan Howard

On Tuesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee took a positive step in advancing building efficiency legislation with the passage of H.R. 2126, the “Better Buildings Act.” This bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT) cleared the committee on voice vote.

In a statement, Representative Welch lauded the passage of the bill:

“The Committee’s action today demonstrates that energy efficiency is a policy area where there is common ground between both parties in Congress.  Vermont has led the nation on efficiency and I am pleased that Congress is now making progress on this issue.”

The bill seeks to catalyze the important opportunities available for efficiency gains in tenant spaces of commercial and retail properties. Specifically, the legislation establishes a voluntary recognition program dubbed “Tenant Star,” which was developed by the EPA Administrator in consultation with the Secretary of Energy. When the program gets off the ground it will act as an ENERGY STAR designation for tenant fit-outs. The Better Buildings Act also tasks the GSA Administrator to consult with the Secretary of Energy in developing model leasing provisions and best practices that align landlords and tenants to achieve greater energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Representative McKinley noted the strong the economic impact that the legislation would have:

“This bill will lower energy costs to consumers and businesses by $2 billion and result in reduced carbon emissions by nearly 12 million tons.” 

USGBC has been working with elected officials and real estate organizations to advance this legislation in both the House and Senate and commends the members who supported the bill. Committee passage of the Better Buildings Act serves as a great foundation for further efficiency related legislation later this congress, so stayed tuned for more updates.