In April, the U.S. congress signed into law the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act to help reduce pollution. The act consists of three key provisions that create new standards in energy efficiency for commercial buildings, industrial plants and homes.
Title 1 – Better buildings
Commercial buildings consume a lot of energy, so the act rewards incentives to tenants and landlords who work together to make buildings more energy efficient by reducing electricity, heat and water usage. Tenants are responsible for more than half the energy consumed by the building, and tenants who meet the act’s requirements can be awarded the Tenant Star label for maintaining an energy efficient space within a commercial building. This applies to non-federal and residential buildings as well.
Title 2 – Grid-enabled water heaters
Buildings that have energy efficient grid-enabled water heaters will be eligible for a tax exemption. The water heaters must also have an activation lock that can only be overridden with an activation key in order to allow the water heater to operate beyond its pre-designated energy efficient rate.
Title 3 – Energy Information for commercial buildings
Federally leased buildings that do not already have an Energy Star label from the Environmental Protection Agency will be required to perform energy audits and disclose their usage. In addition, the act calls for the Secretary of Energy to create and maintain a database of energy information from commercial and multi-family homes.
The Energy Efficiency and Industrial Competitiveness Act has also been reintroduced to Congress to address energy efficiency in construction, manufacturing and government. The new version of the act contains provisions that would help schools as well as low-income housing developments invest in energy efficiency. The American Institute of Architects is publicly opposed to a provision that repeals fossil fuel reduction goals for federal buildings in the current version of the bill.