On March 5, 2014, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2126, the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014.” The bill was co-sponsored by Representatives David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The bill received bipartisan support, passing the House by a vote of 375-36.
H.R. 2126 largely focuses on energy efficiency in buildings. The bill requires the General Services Administration (GSA), in consultation with the Department of Energy (DOE) and after public comment, to develop model commercial leasing provisions intended to encourage investments in cost-effective energy efficiency measures and cost-effective water efficiency measures by owners and tenants. Once the model leasing provisions are developed, GSA may use them in any standard lease in which the federal government is a lessor or tenant.
H.R. 2126 also directs the DOE to perform a study on the feasibility of improving energy efficiency measures in commercial buildings through the design and construction of separate spaces with high-performance energy efficiency measures. A portion of the study would evaluate ways to encourage owners and tenants to implement such high-performance energy efficiency measures.
Further, H.R. 2126 requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish, in consultation with the DOE, a “Tenant Star” program to promote energy efficiency in commercial buildings. In a process similar to the popular Energy Star program, the EPA would establish a ratings system to measure high levels of energy efficiency in commercial buildings and recognize commercial building owners and tenants that lower energy consumption in separate spaces.
The passage of H.R. 2126 in the House follows less than a week after the reintroduction of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESICA or Shaheen-Portman) in the Senate by Senators Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Portman (R-Ohio). Shaheen and Portman have been attempting to enact the bill for years. H.R. 2126 comprises some of the provisions of Shaheen-Portman, including the creation of a study to evaluate energy efficiency in commercial spaces and the Tenant Star program.
The 2013 version of Shaheen-Portman made it out of committee and onto the Senate floor, but the Senate failed to pass it. The 2014 version incorporates some bipartisan amendments to gain additional support. However, additional amendments remain and the Senate leadership has not come to an agreement on their consideration. Until such an agreement is reached, the bill is unlikely to be brought up in the full Senate.