Roundtable Comments on EPA’s Proposed Voluntary Label for Low-Carbon Buildings

EPA NextGen logo

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday on the agency’s proposed voluntary label for low-carbon buildings. (Roundtable letter, March 2)

Voluntary Building Label

  • EPA’s NextGen building label would expand upon the agency’s successful ENERGY STAR program for assets that attain high levels of energy efficiency.
  • The NextGen label would allow companies to highlight buildings that go beyond top efficiency performance—and further rely on renewable energy use and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. (EPA’s proposal and Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 27)
  • NextGen recognition has great potential for widespread market acceptance, The Roundtable stated in its comments.
  • EPA’s proposed program could create a uniform, voluntary federal guideline to simplify the confusing patchwork of city and state climate-related building mandates that exists across the country. (EPA Policy Brief, Jan. 19; Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 20)
  • EPA staff discussed its NextGen proposal with The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) at the “State of the Industry” meeting in January. (SPAC slide presentation)

Roundtable Recommendations

SPAC Chair Tony Malkin and Vice Chair Ben Myers

  • The Roundtable’s SPAC, chaired by Tony Malkin, above left, (Empire State Realty Trust Chairman President and CEO) and vice-chaired by Ben Myers, right, (BXP Senior Vice President, Sustainability), convened a working group to develop the comments submitted to EPA.
  • The Roundtable stated that NextGen recognition criteria “must be grounded in financial performance that offer building owners reasonable returns on their investments.”
  • The Roundtable’s comments suggested refinements to improve EPA’s proposed components, including:

    • Efficiency:
      Significant and demonstrated reductions in a building’s energy use should be eligible for the NextGen label (as an alternate, additional criterion to EPA’s proposal that only ENERGY STAR certified buildings could qualify).
    • Renewable Energy:
      The NextGen proposal would require that 30% of a building’s energy use must derive from renewables. The Roundtable recommends that the level should start at 20% and adjust over time to reflect the changing status of the electric grid as it decarbonizes through increased reliance on solar, wind, and other clean power sources.
    • GHG Reductions: 
      The Roundtable supports EPA’s proposal for a GHG “intensity target” that reflects a building’s unique weather conditions by a factor known as heating degree days (HDD). The Roundtable worked closely with EPA in the pre-pandemic era to consider HDD as a key variable in the underlying ENERGY STAR building score process. (Roundtable Weekly, July 19, 2019)
    • Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs):
      The Roundtable explained that voluntary NextGen recognition can provide much-needed guidance on corporate accounting for REC purchases and enhance credible claims on the environmental benefits from offsite clean power procurement.  

The Roundtable further advised EPA that it should conduct a pilot of the low-carbon label with private and public building owners before broad release to U.S. real estate markets. EPA intends to make the NextGen label available in 2024.

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EPA Invites Comments on Proposed Label for Low-Carbon Buildings

EPA NextGen Certified Building logo

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened a comment period this week on its proposed ENERGY STAR NextGen certification, a voluntary public-private partnership program that would recognize low-carbon buildings. (EPA’s NextGen webpage)

NextGen Criteria

EPA's NextGen criteria slide

1.)   Demonstrate High Energy Efficiency
Building is ENERGY STAR certified and has a score of “75” or higher on EPA’s rating scale. 

2.)   Renewable Energy Use
Building must obtain at least 30% of the total energy it consumes from renewable sources through any combination of (a) onsite renewable generation, (b) renewable energy certificates (not “offsets”), (c) biofuels or other renewable fuels, or (d) renewable thermal certificates. 

3.)   Onsite Emissions Target
Building must meet a greenhouse gas emissions target unique for its asset class that is also “normalized” by regional weather conditions through a metric known as “heating degree days.” 

Next Steps

EPA NextGen slide - next

  • Comments are due to EPA by March 2. (Comments Submission Form).
  • SPAC has formed a working group to develop The Roundtable’s comment letter

EPA aims to make ENERGY STAR NextGen certification available in early 2024.

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Roundtable Recognized as Energy Department “Ally” in Better Climate Challenge


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognized The Real Estate Roundtable this week as an inaugural “ally” of the Better Climate Challenge (BCC), a voluntary program to encourage private and government owners of buildings and industrial plants to cut their GHG emissions in half. (Climate Challenge Factsheet | FAQs | BCC Launch video, Feb. 28)  

Better Climate Challenge & CRE 

Real Estate Roundtable Chair John Fish

  • “The Real Estate Roundtable is proud to partner with the Department of Energy as an ‘ally’ in the Better Climate Challenge,“ said Roundtable Chair John Fish, above, (Chairman and CEO, Suffolk). “As leaders in the CRE industry, our members welcome opportunities to innovate with DOE and other federal agencies to reimagine how our nation’s buildings can optimize efficiency, slash GHG emissions, and draw electricity from a cleaner grid.
  • “Partnerships with DOE offer significant opportunities to focus on retrofitting older buildings,” Fish continued. “Seventy-five percent of U.S. buildings were constructed in the last century. The greatest and most positive impact our industry can have on the climate crisis is to make smart investments that modernize the apartments, office buildings, and other structures where our communities live, work, learn, and socialize.”
  • The BCC to date has received commitments from more than 90 organizations from various industries, including six companies represented by Roundtable membersEmpire State Realty Trust, Hilton, Jamestown LP, LaSalle Investment Management, Lendlease, and MetLife Investment Management.
  • Other real estate industry trade groups who are designated “allies” of the BCC include the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)

Program Requirements 

DOE's Better Climate Challenge launch

  • DOE Secretary Granholm, top left, officially launched the BCC on Feb. 28 during an executive discussion with White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, middle left, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and committed partner organizations.
  • The key element of DOE’s voluntary challenge is for companies to commit to reduce direct emissions (“scope 1”), and emissions from electricity purchases (“scope 2”), by 50% over 10 years. There is no requirement to quantify or reduce indirect “scope 3” emissions.
  • The 10-year window is measured from a baseline of up to five years before a company joins the program.

  • Commitments to reduce emissions must be across a building portfolio. DOE explained that to reach the 50% emissions reduction target, companies can tally their long-term clean power purchase agreements (PPA) and associated renewable energy certificates (RECs). PPAs and RECs are increasingly common strategies used by CRE and other sectors to help deliver more renewable energy to the electricity grid. (Roundtable Weekly, November 5, 2021)
  • Participating companies must also pursue an efficiency target, to prioritize energy savings that will contribute toward the 50% reduction in portfolio-wide emissions over a decade.
  • Companies joining the program must pledge to share energy and emissions data for 10 years through EPA’s Portfolio Manager, publicly report on progress, participate in peer-to-peer exchanges, and help develop industry best practices.

Businesses who want to pursue “partnership agreement” – or trade organizations who want to participate as an “ally” – with DOE’s national leadership initiative on climate can consult with BCC online.

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House Committees Advance Clean Energy Measures Favorable to CRE

Austin TX solar panels

House committees this week advanced “clean energy” portions of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan along party lines, including several measures supported by The Real Estate Roundtable. 

Clean Energy Tax Incentives

  • The Ways & Means Committee this week approved “green energy” portions of the reconciliation package. (Bill text [Subtitle G); section by section)
  • The Committee approved significant changes to existing tax credits that incentivize investments in solar, wind, combined heat and power (CHP) and fuel cell systems – and expanded them to also include energy storage and dynamic glass properties.
  • These renewable energy investments would be subject to an “elective pay” option that can allow entities with little appetite for tax credits to request a payment equal to the value of the credit.
  • Investments in EV charging stations and high-voltage transmission lines (needed to support delivery of renewable power over long distances) would also benefit from the elective pay option.
  • The Committee also made changes intended to improve the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient buildings. The proposed changes are geared to support existing building retrofits.
  • The amounts of these incentives would start at a “base rate” – and could increase to a “bonus rate” if the property owner meets certain labor provisions for Davis-Bacon wages and hiring registered apprentices.

Climate and Energy

House Energy and Commerce Committee

  • The House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee passed a $456 billion section of the reconciliation bill. (Bill text / Committee memorandum, Sept. 9 and Markup summary, Sept. 13)
  • The centerpiece of the E&C package is a Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP). It would offer federal Energy Department “incentive payments” to electric utilities that meet clean energy targets and shift to zero-emissions sources (i.e., nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal).
  •  A nationwide CEPP could accelerate “greening” the grid and help real estate and other sectors accommodate increasing demands from investors and regulators to source the electricity they purchase from renewable power.
  • However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a key centrist vote needed for ultimate passage of a reconciliation package, has questioned the need for the CEPP program. He has stated that utilities should not receive taxpayer funds because the electricity sector’s’ transition to clean power sources is already happening. (Politico and E&E News, Sept 14) 

Other elements of the E&C Committee’s bill include:

  • Grants for state/localities to adopt most recent and zero-energy building codes; and
  • A rebate program for electric vehicle charging infrastructure with set asides for individuals, small businesses, and low-income communities.

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Congress Continues to Focus on Climate-Related Legislation

DC Capitol Building

Legislators in both the Senate and House this week continued to work on stand-alone bills designed to lower U.S. energy consumption and reduce the risks posed by GHG emissions, in tandem with the administration’s emphasis on climate change and building “retrofits” through the comprehensive American Jobs Plan proposal. (Roundtable Weekly, May 28 and June 11)

Senate: The INSULATE Buildings Act

Buildings sky x475w

  • A bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on June 15 would seek to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and homes by providing financial resources to state-level energy agencies.
  • The INSULATE Buildings Act (summary) would establish a new U.S. Department of Energy “revolving loan program.” State agencies would then use these federal proceeds to distribute loans and grants to eligible businesses and homeowners to upgrade and retrofit to commercial and residential buildings.
  • The program would also seek to provide states that have the poorest efficiency in their commercial and residential building stock with additional aid.  States could also use up to 25% of their capitalization grant to provide direct grants to small businesses and low-income homeowners.
  • Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, remarked that his INSULATE Buildings Act “provides a significant opportunity to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption in buildings.” (News release, June 15)

Davis-Bacon Wage Requirements

workers erect building framework image

  • Both the Manchin-Murkowski bill and a recent Senate Finance Committee energy tax incentives bill would require construction projects receiving federal financial support through these measures to comply with “Davis-Bacon” prevailing wage standards. (Roundtable Weekly, May 28)
  • The Finance Committee, chaired by Ron Wyden (D-OR), in May advanced an improved energy efficiency tax deduction for commercial buildings (Section 179D) that would make the incentive more usable for “retrofits” of older buildings, multifamily structures, and REITs. (Clean Energy for America Act (S. 1298), mark-up video and supporting documents)
  • A May 26 Roundtable letter opposed new prevailing wage mandates proposed by the Senate committee bill. The letter warned that the excessive costs from Davis-Bacon compliance will greatly exceed the amount of any tax deduction that Section 179D might provide to incentivize an energy efficient construction project.

House: Climate Risk Disclosures

SEC logo - image

  •  The House on June 16 passed the Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act (H.R. 1187) on a partisan vote, which incorporated the texts of several bills with support from the White House.
  • Among its provisions, the Act would require companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions and describe their climate risk mitigation strategies. It would also direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue specific rules within two years that address the disclosures.  (House Financial Services Committee summary and section-by-section overview)
  • At the regulatory level, The Real Estate Roundtable on June 9 commented to the SEC on the unique challenges facing commercial real estate businesses if the Commission eventually requires corporate issuers to report on climate-related financial risks. (Roundtable Weekly, June 11).
  • The bill would also require disclosures to the SEC on matters relating to companies’ political action contributions, lobbying efforts, executive compensation and pay raises, and offshore tax havens.

The measure barely passed the House with only Democrats showing support on a 215-214 vote, indicating that the prospects for passage in the Senate are slim.

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Policymakers Considering Energy and Climate Provisions as Part of Infrastructure Package

San Diego

Congressional Committee leaders are gearing up energy and climate proposals as the Biden Administration assembles its plan for an infrastructure initiative to bolster the recovery of the pandemic-damaged economy.

What’s at Stake: 

  • The White House is considering including clean energy tax credits in a coronavirus recovery proposal, White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy said. “You can bet tax credits are a large part of that discussion.” (BGov, March 11.)
  • The scale and scope of energy and climate measures may make it difficult to attract Republican votes in the wake of the nearly $2 trillion pandemic aid package last week that received no GOP support.  
  • Top Democratic tax writers may differ on their approach to clean energy tax incentives that aim to achieve low-and zero-carbon energy targets. (CQ, March 15)
    • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) is seeking to consolidate existing tax incentives.  In 2019, he proposed replacing 44 energy-related tax provisions with three credits: one for clean electricity, one for clean fuels, and one to promote greater energy efficiency. 
    • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) is a leading cosponsor of House Democrats’ GREEN Act, which would expand and enhance existing tax benefits for clean energy and energy efficiency.  
  • The Roundtable is currently working with Democratic and Republican Members of the Ways and Means Committee to update and reintroduce a bipartisan proposal, the E-QUIP Act, to encourage energy efficient retrofits of existing commercial and residential rental buildings. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 11, 2020).
  • A House Energy and Commerce (E&C) hearing on March 18 focused on the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act (H.R. 1512).  The CLEAN Act includes provisions affecting building energy codes, energy benchmarking, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) public company reporting on climate risk. The bill is not expected to advance far in the Senate. (Roundtable Weekly, March 5).

Regulation and Federal Funding:

  • A Climate Change Disclosures Request for Information issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 15 addresses a broad range of issues and legal considerations relevant to possible mandatory SEC requirements. The RFI has a 90-day comment window. 
  • Acting SEC Chair Allison Lee addressed the RFI this week, stating the agency will commence a number of new initiatives to address “… the risks and opportunities that climate and ESG [Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance] pose for investors, our financial system, and our economy.”
  • A March 17 letter led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) urges President Biden to include robust federal funding for programs that promote energy efficiency as part of the administration’s upcoming budget proposal for fiscal year 2022.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is also a signatory on the letter. 
  • The letter states, “Increasing investment in energy efficiency programs within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can deliver significant emissions reductions, grow jobs in the clean energy sector and provide savings to American consumers.”  The letter also notes that the pandemic and associated economic impacts have hit the energy efficiency sector especially hard, slowing progress and costing jobs, particularly for workers of color.
  • Energy efficiency employment in the United States grew by 20% – nearly three times the rate of growth in the overall economy – in the five years leading up to 2020, and energy efficiency jobs are available in nearly every county in every state, according to the National Association of State Energy Officials.  

The Real Estate Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) continues to work with congressional policymakers, EPA and DOE on energy and climate issues of importance to commercial real estate. 

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Roundtable Advises that Uniform Federal Data and Voluntary Standards are Needed to Avoid State, City “Patchwork” of Carbon Pricing Protocols

FERC logo

The growing number of state and local mandates to reduce GHG emissions and increase renewable energy supplies are driving the need for uniform and voluntary federal-level practices to measure and price carbon, The Roundtable advised in comments submitted on Tuesday.

  • This is because dozens of state and city laws are setting energy measurement, reduction, and emissions targets on buildings, and imposing renewable energy “portfolio standards” that require greater power supplies from solar, wind, and other carbon-free sources.
  • These state and local mandates have “effectively forced the issue – throughout the United States – that carbon emissions are an economic liability, and carbon reductions are an economic asset,” the letter explains.  Environmental demands from investors, tenants, employee talent, and other audiences also impel real estate owners to voluntarily purchase “clean” power and “offset” carbon emissions.
  • While FERC itself lacks authority from Congress to set a price on carbon, within the Commission’s sphere of regulating bulk electricity sales in “wholesale markets” it can play a “vital role to help facilitate a harmonious nationwide system of standards relating to carbon measurement and pricing,” the comment letter provides.

SPAC Involvement

Leadership - RER's SPAC

  • The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) – chaired by Tony Malkin (Chairman, President and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust), above left,  and vice-chaired by Dan Egan (Senior Vice President, Vornado Realty Trust), right, – directed the course of the comments, which also provides:
    • FERC should encourage jurisdictions to rely on federal data provided by power plants and managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – known as “eGRID” – as the unifying information source to measure how combustion of various fuels used across the country contribute to GHG emissions;
    • Federal measurement standards can support “the types of long-term price signals that our energy future demands,” and minimize a confusing a “hodgepodge” in emerging state and regional markets that already treat carbon as a commodity (such as through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs));
    • Any government revenue raised by state-level carbon pricing regimes should be returned to commercial, residential, and other consumers to help defray their energy costs. Sums from any such “carbon dividend” should also be channeled to create jobs by modernizing energy infrastructure and electrifying the grid.

“The SPAC has been hard at work for years on real estate related topics around energy production, distribution, consumption, and pricing that now are front and center,” Malkin said.  “Our members can be comfortable that they have excellent representation and access to information, that RER is on its front foot here, and that representation on SPAC by our members is critical to their ability to get the best information and have the opportunity to help inform The Roundtable’s actions.”

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EPA Launches Voluntary “ENERGY STAR Tenant Space” Program to Certify High Performance Leased Office Suites

EnergyStar Tenant Space

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Oct. 13 launched its voluntary “ENERGY STAR Tenant Space” labeling program to recognize tenants who collaborate with their landlords on design and construction of high performance leased office spaces. (Download EPA’s Oct. 15 webinar slides – How to Apply for ENERGY STAR Tenant Space Recognition.)

  • EPA’s new certification for office tenants is now a permanent ENERGY STAR program offering, to complement the agency’s popular “whole building” label. The ENERGY STAR label is a key marketplace influence to signal energy efficient assets, impacting nearly 35,000 buildings and plants nationwide that represent more than 5 billion square feet of commercial space. (ENERGY STAR Facts and Stats)
  • “ENERGY STAR Tenant Space” recognition requires office tenants to estimate their suites’ energy use, separately meter their spaces, use efficient office equipment, and share energy usage data with their landlords. (See EPA’s guide, “How to Prepare for Tenant Space Recognition.”)
  • EPA will also offer access to a new online tool for estimating lighting energy usage within its commonly used Portfolio Manager benchmarking platform. Use of this new lighting assessment function, and requiring an office suite to meet a lighting efficiency “target,” will be a prerequisite for the voluntary Tenant Space label.
  • The Tenant Space label is currently available to office tenants. EPA explained to SPAC members that it intends to expand the program to provide recognition opportunities to retail and warehouse tenants in the coming months.
  • ENERGY STAR building ratings and the corollary Tenant Space program were part of a discussion held October 1 at The Real Estate Roundtable’s offices in Washington, D.C., between EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer. 
  • In a video of the discussion, Wheeler stated he is a “strong” ENERGY STAR proponent and that the agency’s expansion of the label to cover tenant spaces was “the right thing to do.” Wheeler also emphasized these platforms must remain voluntary to encourage additional private-sector technological innovations in buildings and manufacturing. (See video at 12:40 and Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 2)

EPA’s tenant recognition efforts are authorized by the so-called “Tenant Star” law, passed by Congress in 2015 with The Roundtable’s strong backing. (Commercial Property Executive, May 4, 2015)

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EPA Launching “ENERGY STAR Tenant Space” Process on October 13; CBECS Requests Stakeholder Feedback; House May Vote on Building Codes Bill Next Week

Energy Start Tenant Space Charter Tenant Award

Recognition for office tenants who collaborate with their landlords on design and construction of high performance leased spaces will be the focus of the voluntary ENERGY STAR Tenant Space program, scheduled to launch on October 13. 

  • The launch marks the second occasion that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will certify energy efficient office suites, following inaugural awards granted to “charter tenants” in 2018 and legislative authorization for the program from the so-called “Tenant Star” law passed by Congress in 2015. (Commercial Property Executive, May 4, 2015).
  • EPA’s application process, opening October 13, will require office tenants seeking certification to estimate their suites’ energy use, separately meter their spaces, use efficient office equipment, and share energy usage data with their landlords.  See EPA’s “How to Prepare for Tenant Space Recognition” guide.
  • EPA will also offer access to a new tool for estimating lighting energy usage intensity within the ENERGY STAR “Portfolio Manager” platform. Use of this new lighting assessment function will be a prerequisite for Tenant Space awards.  EPA has plans for on-line demonstrations in the coming weeks.
  • The ENERGY STAR label impacts nearly 35,000 buildings and plants nationwide, representing more than 5 billion square feet of commercial space. (ENERGY STAR Facts and Stats)   

Real Estate Stakeholders Requested to Provide Input on CBECS Process

EIA logo

  • The Roundtable requests that our members respond to a short questionnaire (6 questions) currently on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) website.
  • An ENERGY STAR “whole building” score (registered on a scale of 1 to 100) is generally based on data from the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), conducted periodically by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  EIA speakers have provided The Roundtable with information on CBECS data and its impact on ENERGY STAR scores for years.
  • The Roundtable estimates that EPA will next update its ENERGY STAR building scoring methods sometime around 2023, based on CBECS data collected in 2018-2019.  However, that data is pre-COVID.  It does not reflect the likely changes that have taken place in building occupancy and energy use since the pandemic struck in 2020.
  • Answers to the current CBECS questionnaire may have a significant impact in EIA’s data collection efforts regarding the U.S. buildings.  It is crucial that EIA capture data from all types and sizes of buildings – such as larger buildings over 500K square feet that have historically been under-represented in past surveys.
  • RER members responding to the CBECS questionnaire should also explain that EIA’s data collection should account for possible changes in building occupancy, energy consumption, ventilation protocols, and HVAC equipment since the COVID-19 pandemic started.  

House May Vote on Energy Bill Next Week

U.S. Capitol

Issues regarding CBECS data are also part of legislation reintroduced by House Democrats on September 15, The Clean Economy and Jobs Innovation Act (H.R. 4447).  The omnibus bill includes sections on building energy codes, grant programs for underserved communities and green infrastructure.  The bill may come to a vote in the House next week.

  • The bill includes a section, strongly supported by The Roundtable, which would direct EPA and EIA to enter into an “information sharing agreement.”  Such an agreement would direct the agencies to publicly and systematically address the relationship between CBECS data and ENERGY STAR buildings scores, as discussed above.
  • The bill also includes provisions, long-supported by The Roundtable, that would bring greater transparency to the process by which the U.S. Department of Energy provides federal recommendations to develop building energy codes that state and local governments may ultimately adopt. (Roundtable Weekly, June 19, 2019)
  • One of the major goals of the comprehensive, nearly 900-page legislative package is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.  (BGov, Sept. 16)

In the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) is working to reintroduce energy reform legislation, but has once again run into delays due to long-standing objections over housing affordability issues.  (E&E News, Sept 17)

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Senate Committee Considering Comprehensive Energy Bill that Includes Roundtable-Supported Measures

Murkowski Manchin x475 edit

A bipartisan, omnibus energy bill with provisions supported by The Real Estate Roundtable was prepared for debate in the Senate this week, as Republicans and Democrats negotiate a package of amendments that may be added to the base bill.  

  • The American Energy Innovation Act (S. 2657) – introduced on Feb. 27 by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) [ above ] – is a compilation of more than 50 energy-related measures considered and individually reported last year.  (Bill Summary and text)
  • The AEIA focuses on energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture, grid modernization, and workforce development to build energy-related infrastructure.
  • The bill includes language supported by The Roundtable to improve the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) process. 
    • AEIA Section 1001 would require Congress to oversee coordination by federal agencies to gather and report higher quality CBECS data – the only nationwide government survey that estimates the number, location, age, energy consumption and other characteristics of the U.S. commercial real estate stock.
    • Significantly, CBECS data provides the underpinning for EPA’s ENERGY STAR scores – a key real estate performance “label” relied upon by building owners, investors, and tenants.
  • The Senate’s AEIA bill includes other sections of interest to real estate, including authorizations for:  
    • a “Federal Smart Building Program” to implement and demonstrate smart building technologies across the federal real estate stock; 
    • a nationwide survey of “Private Sector Smart Buildings” for study and evaluation by the U. S. Energy Secretary; 
    • codification of the U.S. Energy Department’s “Better Buildings Challenge” – a program that has attracted Roundtable members’ participation; and
    • a “CHP Technical Assistance Partnership” to provide project-specific engineering and economic assessments for combined heat and power systems.


  • Thus far, Senators have filed over 185 amendments for consideration as additions to the underlying bill.  Among them is one offered by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to drive greater transparency and consideration of building owner costs in the process to develop model building energy codes.  (Roundtable Weekly, July 19, 2019).   The Roundtable has long-supported the Portman-Shaheen energy codes provisions, which Portman addressed this week on the Senate floor
  • ENR Chairman Murkowski said this week she was working on a “managers’ package” of certain, less controversial measures to be voted on in a block.  “I want to have a managers’ package, but it is entirely possible — we’ve seen it before — that that opportunity is spoiled,” she said.  (CQ, March 4) 

If Republicans and Democrats can agree upon the AEIA amendments eligible for a vote, the Senate will be poised to pass its first major piece of energy legislation in over 12 years, according to Murkowski’s press release.  The measure would then move to the House of Representatives, where the Democratic majority might append provisions that more aggressively address climate change.  (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 7, 2020) 

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