The Real Estate Roundtable submitted comments this week encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use its grant authority to foster consistent, practicable, and cost-efficient local building mandates and electrification programs. (Roundtable letter, Jan. 18)
Consistency Urged in Building Performance Standards
- In addition to clean energy tax incentives for the private sector, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) devotes billions in grant money for EPA to dole-out to states and cities for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction programs. [White House Guidebook, Dec. 15]
- IRA grants could support localities as they develop and enforce building performance standards (BPS) that mandate owners to reduce energy use and emissions. Dozens of BPS laws have emerged in jurisdictions across the United States. (EPA Policy Brief, Jan. 19) (Roundtable Weekly, July 1, 2022)
- The Roundtable’s Jan. 18 letter urges EPA to use its grant authority to encourage consistency in BPS mandates. A “hodge-podge” of state and local laws complicates compliance by building owners with nationwide real estate portfolios and hinders responsible investment strategies, according to The Roundtable’s letter.
- The Roundtable’s position is that EPA should not award IRA grants unless state or local recipients ensure their BPS laws offer uniform federal tools, data, and protocols for enforcement and compliance.
- These federal standards include EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, its GHG Emissions Calculator, eGRID factors that convert electricity use to GHGs, and metrics already recommended by EPA to support BPS efforts.
Tenant Energy Data and “Practicable Electrification”
- The Roundtable letter also advocates that utilities should be eligible for EPA grants to develop technologies that provide owners of multi-tenant buildings with “whole building” energy data. Owners need data on tenants’ energy use to meet BPS mandates and to attain the IRA’s new tax deduction for building retrofits. (Fact Sheet, updated Jan. 5.)
- EPA can also devote grant dollars for building electrification “partnerships.” The Roundtable directed EPA to the federal government’s own BPS and NYSERDA’s Empire Building Challenge as paradigms that may accelerate voluntary and cost-effective building electrification scenarios in the private sector. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 9, 2022)
- In addition, The Roundtable letter advocates that grants to help standardize corporate climate reporting should prioritize consistency in accounting for emission benefits from the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), and for embedded carbon in construction materials and building products purchased by real estate owners and developers.
IRA tax incentives and grant programs affecting CRE will be among the topics discussed during The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) Meeting on Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C., held in conjunction with Jan. 24 State of the Industry meeting.
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