U.S. households stand to massively cut energy waste and save $51 billion if a bipartisan group of legislators in both the House and the Senate can push through a package of measures to increase energy efficiency in homes and commercial, industrial, and federal government buildings, Utility Dive reports.
“The most significant portions of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act would modify national building codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy-efficient, provide retrofitting assistance for schools, and create a program to account for efficiency in the mortgage appraisal and underwriting process for federally-backed mortgages,” the industry newsletter reports.
“Critics of the bill, however, told a U.S. House subcommittee [earlier this month] that more aggressive building codes for energy efficiency could harm housing affordability through ‘costly and aggressive’ requirements on homebuilders. The committee chair also pressed a Department of Energy (DOE) official on appliance standards that have yet to be updated.”
Lowell Ungar, senior policy advisor at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said the bills would save billions of dollars and cut energy waste by more than 30 quadrillion BTUs (8.8 million megawatt-hours), “almost the total energy use of U.S. industry in a year.” He added that the bill “has been thoroughly vetted and includes important measures for buildings and industrial efficiency”.
One of the more contentious aspects of the story unfolded before the energy subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where legislators were considering six separate bills dealing with energy efficiency and storage. “Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chair of the full committee, repeatedly pressed Under Secretary of Energy [and avid “freedom gas” advocate] Mark Menezes on what the U.S. Department of Energy is doing to update energy standards for appliances—and never appeared satisfied by the responses,” Utility Dive writes. Energy efficiency advocates say Donald Trump’s DOE “has missed 18 deadlines to review standards”.
“The question is, are you actually doing anything to promote energy efficiency?” Pallone asked. “You’re just talking to me about process.”
“We have full intention of following all of our legal obligations,” Menezes replied, adding that seven standards have been finalized since Trump took over the White House.
Utility Dive has more detail on the hearing, the surrounding commentary, and the positions of different industry advocates, with the U.S. National Association of Home Builders expressing “strong opposition” to the energy efficiency measures and the American Institute of Architects standing against a provision to phase out fossil fuel use in new and retrofitted federal buildings.