Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: Senator Carper Introduces Bill Designed to Improve Energy Efficiency in Federal Buildings

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: Senator Carper Introduces Bill Designed to Improve Energy Efficiency in Federal Buildings

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law

Cullen Howe   By J. Cullen Howe, Environmental Law Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

On May 11, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced a wide-ranging bill setting energy efficiency standards for new federal buildings and requiring federal agencies to make publicly available energy use reductions.

Among other things, the bill, entitled Reducing Federal Energy Dollars Act of 2011, would require federal agencies to release reports that detail energy and water usage as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their buildings.  The bill would also require that energy use data be made available for each building within the agency, as well as how much energy individual building systems-like heating, air conditioning, and lighting-use.  The reports would include updates on how the agencies are meeting GHG reductions and energy efficiency improvement goals, descriptions of the technologies used to meet these goals, and descriptions of agencies' high-performing buildings.  Additionally, the bill would require the U.S. Comptroller General to issue an audit report on the overall energy savings by federal agencies and the amount of money saved from reduced energy use.

The bill would also require that new federal buildings meet standards set by the Secretary of Energy, or, in the absence of such standards, would have to be 30% more energy-efficient than what would be recommended by industry-designed energy efficiency standards.  It would also require that federal agencies use "smart meters" to monitor electricity and would allow Congress to allocate money to improve existing designs of buildings that have not yet been constructed.  In addition, it would require a survey of federal facilities to identify potential locations for renewable energy projects, and would require ongoing building commissioning for buildings over 50,000 square feet or over $10 million.

A section-by-section analysis of the Reducing Federal Energy Dollars (R-FED) Act of 2011 bill is available.

Reprinted with permission from Green Building Law Update Service.

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J. Cullen Howe is an environmental law specialist at Arnold & Porter LLP. Much of Cullen's work focuses on climate change, where he attempts to educate lawyers and the public at large on the enormous cooperation necessary to adequately address this problem. In addition to his work on climate change, Cullen is the managing editor of Environmental Law in New York, edits the Environmental Law Practice Guide, Brownfields Law and Practice, the Environmental Impact Review in New York, and has drafted chapters in the Environmental Law Practice Guide on climate change and green building. Mr. Howe is a graduate of Vermont Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vermont Law Review, and a graduate of DePauw University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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