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Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Improve Energy Efficiency in Fed Buildings

June 18, 2019, 8:14 AM HST
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Last week, US Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Cory Gardner (R-Col.) introduced S. 1857, the Federal Energy and Water Management Performance Act of 2019, which would formally authorize the Federal Energy Management Program and establish energy and water usage reduction goals for federal buildings. Buildings account for about 40% of all US energy consumption, and roughly 70 percent of the country’s electricity consumption, according to a June 18 press release from Sen. Hirono’s office.

“Saving taxpayer dollars through practical and smart initiatives and efficiency measures such as those proposed in the Federal Energy and Water Management Performance Act will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and make the federal government a leader in achieving a more sustainable future,” Sen. Hirono said. “Improving energy and water efficiency in our federal buildings is one simple step we can take in combating climate change and conserving our fresh water resources.”

“Increasing energy efficiency is an idea we should all be able to get behind, and the federal government can lead by example by consuming less energy and water,” Sen. Murkowski said. “Our bill lays out goals for federal agencies through 2030, and for the first time formally authorizes the Federal Energy Management Program. This is a prime example of a no-regrets policy that will be good for American families, communities, and our climate all at the same time.”

“We know that one of the smartest ways to reduce emissions and move towards a cleaner energy future is improving our energy efficiency. With forty percent of our nation’s energy consumption attributed to buildings, and the federal government being the largest energy consumer in the nation, it’s common sense to authorize the Federal Energy Management Program at the Department of Energy to help our federal agencies operate in a more energy efficient manner,” Sen. Manchin said.

“Promoting greater energy efficiency helps create jobs and protect the environment, and that’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill,” Sen. Portman said. “This measure will help reduce the federal government’s energy and water consumption and increase energy efficiency in federal buildings. The FEMP program has already saved the federal government $50 billion in energy costs, and codifying this important program will ensure continued savings in energy and water use. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues on ways to improve energy efficiency and move this legislation forward.”

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“Requiring federal buildings to meet energy and water reduction goals will save American taxpayers money, conserve water and increase the use of renewable energy,” Sen. Shaheen said. “I’m glad to partner with Sens. Murkowski and Manchin on this effort so Congress can make headway on bipartisan legislation that invests in the sustainability of our environment and vitality of our economy. This has long been a top priority for me, and I’ll continue to pursue bipartisan solutions that benefit both our economy and environment.”

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“As the largest consumer of energy, it’s important for the federal government to lead by example by improving its energy efficiency and making the necessary resiliency upgrades to survive extreme weather and cyber events,” Sen.Gardner said. “The Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program can coordinate government leadership, leverage private financing with performance contracts, and track and report on federal progress. I’m proud to be a sponsor of this bill.”

The Federal Energy and Water Management Performance Act would require key provisions that would:

  • Establish energy use reduction goals of 2.5 percent per year for 10 years (2020 to 2030) in federal buildings;
  • Establish water use reduction goals of 54 percent in federal buildings by 2030 relative to 2007;
  • Codify FEMP and detail its directives and the duties of its director; and
  • Provide authorizations for FEMP through fiscal year 2030.

The federal government is the country’s No. 1 energy consumer, which costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year. As an existing program within the Department of Energy, FEMP works with agencies and stakeholders to identify and establish affordable solutions that facilitate energy and water savings through public-private partnerships. FEMP also provides training, guidance, and technical assistance to enable federal agencies to meet energy-related goals.

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The U.S. Geological Survey estimates building operations in the US account for around 47 billion gallons of water use per day, an estimated 12% of the country’s total water use. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, the average building in the US will stand for more than 70 years, making reasonable reductions in building energy and water use a major opportunity for efficiency gains.

Sen. Hirono included an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee (S. 1790) to set water use targets for the Department of Defense and require five year funding plan for energy programs offices to meet the department’s energy resilience goals. She is a co-sponsor of S.1288, the Clean Energy for America Act, which would reform the federal tax code as part of a plan to support a low-carbon economy by encouraging clean electricity, clean transportation, and energy efficiency and repealing tax incentives for fossil fuel companies

The full text of the bill is available here. Click here for a one-page background and section-by-section summary.

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