Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill Receives President’s Signature

With NLC's support, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (S. 535) was signed yesterday by President Obama, who called for more action on the "low-hanging fruit" of energy efficiency. The bill, which passed the House last week and the Senate last month, will improve the energy efficiency of commercial and federal buildings.

The building sector accounts for 39 percent of the nation's energy use, 72 percent of its electricity use, one third of all global greenhouse gas emissions and represents the single largest, most accessible opportunity for deep emissions cuts in the United States.

Sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the pared-down bill establishes a voluntary approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to promote energy efficiency in separately leased spaces. Additionally, the bill requires that federally-leased buildings without Energy Star labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical. Together, these provisions will save taxpayers money, strengthen local economies and improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is the most cost-effective way to achieve reduction goals; it will save homeowners and businesses money by reducing utility bills and create thousands of local jobs.

The provisions of S. 535 are part of a larger energy efficiency bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, (S. 720) which was introduced by the pair earlier this year. NLC supported a similar bill last year. Among the key provisions that NLC supports is one that provides lenders and homeowners with more flexible federal mortgage underwriting rules that would include a home's expected energy cost savings when determining the value and affordability of the home.