Bryan Howard

This week the House of Representatives advanced a modest but important bill that improves building efficiency in commercial buildings. S. 535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act passed the House by a voice vote and will now head to President Obama for his signature.

The bill aims to catalyze important opportunities available for efficiency gains in tenant spaces in commercial and retail properties, while providing more information on the operation of some federal leased space.

Specifically, the legislation will create a voluntary recognition program dubbed “Tenant Star,” which would be developed by the Environmental Protection Agency 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. With regard to federal building efficiency, the bill enhances building benchmarking by making it a requirement for federally leased space in buildings that have not received an ENERGY STAR label.

USGBC President Roger Platt lauded the passage of the bill, saying, “On behalf of our 12,000 organizational members I commend Congress for their overwhelming support for this smart, bi-partisan legislation. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act will help save energy and trim costs for tenants across the country. USGBC has been working to advance the bill in both branches of Congress and wants to sincerely thank Senators Portman (OH), Shaheen (NH), Bennet (CO), Ayotte (NH) and Representatives McKinley (WV) and Welch (VT) for their leadership and support on getting this important legislation across the finish line.”

We hope this is the first of many more positive steps to come for energy legislation this Congress.