Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill to be Brought to Senate Floor

The bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act—introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH)—will soon be brought to the Senate floor for debate.

The bill seeks to encourage and advance the use of energy efficient technologies in residential and commercial buildings, primarily through updating building codes to integrate energy efficiency standards. There are several components to the bill:

- Provides grants to states “to establish or expand programs to promote the financing of energy efficiency retrofit projects for private sector and commercial buildings”
- Strengthens energy efficiency standards in building codes
- Offers rebates for certain equipment to encourage industrial energy efficiency
- Introduces “Supply Star” program to make supply chains more energy efficient

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has already completed its preliminary analysis of the bill, finding that it would save 9.5 quadrillion BTUs between 2014 and 2030, equivalent to one-tenth of the annual energy use in the US.

The bill faces several roadblocks, however, in the form of controversial amendments that lawmakers are attempting to tack onto the bill. Notably, some lawmakers—lobbied by the chemical and timber industries—have pushed for an amendment that restricts federal agencies from using the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. As many opponents to the amendment have pointed out, LEED has proven to be effective in improving energy efficiency in buildings and saving money. Other lobbyists are pushing for an amendment to compromise the EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

There are also concerns that an effort to add a controversial Keystone XL amendment could derail the bill. In fact, a similar bill was introduced during the last Congress, but a Keystone XL amendment, among others, prevented it from making it to the floor.

Contact your member of Congress and tell him or her that you oppose any amendment that would undermine the bill’s intention to encourage energy-efficient building practices and reduce carbon pollution.