Energy Reform Legislation Approved by Congressional Committees

On May 21, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy Security Act by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). The legislation includes numerous provisions relating to more stringent renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, capping carbon emissions, and increased investment in clean energy.

Of particular interest to the commercial real estate industry are the provisions in Energy Efficiency section relating to building standards. The Committee approved an amendment by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) which provides economic incentives for retrofitting existing buildings. The amendment, which was originally introduced as a stand-alone bill earlier this year, establishes the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program which provides grants and loans to property owners who wish to retrofit their buildings with energy efficient improvements. CCIM Institute members lobbied in support for the Welch proposal during the Capitol Hill Visits in April.

The House bill also requires states to adopt energy efficiency building codes that meet specified federal standards. Specifically, the bill requires new buildings to be 30% more efficient in 2012 and 50% more efficient in 2016. House leadership is aiming for floor consideration of H.R. 2454 before the July 4th recess.

On June 4, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved its own version of building energy efficiency legislation as part of a broader energy and climate bill. The bill, which is still in draft form, requires states to certify building codes that would reach a 30% energy savings. The bill would also create financial incentives and grant programs to improved energy efficiency in multi-family units, manufactured housing and commercial retrofits. At this time, it is unclear when the final bill will be considered by the full Senate.