S. 385 – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2017
Alliance Honorary Chair Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Vice-Chair Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced S. 385, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2017, on February 15, 2017. The newest iteration of this energy efficiency legislation, known as “Portman-Shaheen,” is very similar to the last version, S. 720, introduced in 2015. The bill contains the base components of the original legislation, first introduced in 2011, and retains several additional provisions added since then to strengthen it. Collectively, these provisions are estimated to create 190,000 jobs, $16.2 billion in annual energy savings, and cut CO2 emissions by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road by 2030.
This bipartisan legislation will increase U.S. energy productivity, promote economic growth and competitiveness, enhance energy security, and reduce harmful emissions. The bill also reduces government spending by addressing energy savings in the federal government – the nation’s largest energy consumer – and includes provisions that expand energy efficiency savings and benefits to all sectors of the U.S. economy, from schools and homes, to commercial buildings, industry and manufacturing.
Summary of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2017
This section of the bill would make considerable improvements in the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in the United States. The bill would strengthen the national model for building energy codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient while working with states and private industry to make the code-writing process more transparent. It would also encourage the Department of Energy (DOE) to be more involved in the development, adoption and compliance of building codes by providing technical assistance, projecting potential energy savings and making available financial assistance. DOE is uniquely positioned to do this technical advisory work, which states don’t have the resources to do. But under the bill, states and local governments maintain control over their own local standards. In addition, the bill would provide funding for workforce development programs specifically related to energy efficiency in buildings.
These provisions are aimed at boosting the U.S. manufacturing sector’s productivity and competitive edge – a primary goal of Congress and the Trump administration. The bill directs DOE to work closely with private-sector partners to encourage the research, development and commercialization of innovative energy efficient technology and processes for industrial applications. It would also incentivize the use of more energy efficient electric motors and transformers, which would strengthen productivity and efficiency. Success stories from DOE’s work with manufacturers in this area can be found here. A significant component of this section is the creation of the SupplySTAR program at DOE, which identifies and promotes best practices, recognizes companies and products that use highly efficient supply chains.
This section would cut federal spending by reducing energy use throughout the federal government – the largest energy single energy user in the country. The bill would require the federal government to employ energy efficiency and energy savings tools in the areas of information and communication technologies. It would also allow the General Services Administration (GSA) to use appropriated funds to update a building’s design to meet energy efficiency and other standards and codes for new federal buildings. Finally, it would amend the National Energy Conservation Policy Act to allow the federal government to participate in utility incentive programs and energy savings performance contracts that include measures for natural gas and electric vehicles and the necessary fueling or charging infrastructure for the adoption of such measures.
Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools
This common-sense provision would help schools invest in energy efficiency upgrades – saving more than $2 billion in local tax dollars and freeing up money in local schools’ budgets. DOE would simplify and improve coordination around existing federal energy efficiency programs available to schools and provide guidance on financing options.
Energy Efficient Data Centers
This provision would require the federal government to increase the efficiency of its data centers. It would direct the Office of Management and Budget to collaborate with each federal agency to create a strategy for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy-efficient and energy-saving information technologies, and then track and report on each agency’s progress. This amendment would also implement several other measures with a focus on improving the energy efficiency of federal data centers.
Low-Income Housing Retrofits
This provision would authorize HUD to use performance-based contracts to conduct energy and water efficiency upgrades to HUD-assisted multi-family housing.
Third-Party Certification under Energy Star Program
This provision would revise requirements for businesses submitting their products for third-party testing to achieve Energy Star certification.
Federal Green Buildings
This provision would ensure that the green building ratings systems used by GSA do not exclude certain building materials. DOE would be required to conduct an ongoing review into private sector green building certification systems and to work with other agencies to determine which certification system would encourage the most comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to certifying buildings.
Energy Efficiency for Federal Buildings and Mortgages
This section contains a number of provisions to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings. It also requires federal mortgage agencies to include energy efficiency as a factor in determining the value and affordability of a home. These provisions are a combination of two previously introduced bills, the All-of-the-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act from Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and the SAVE Act, which was last introduced by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in 2013.
This provision would require DOE to recognize voluntary, independent certification programs for air conditioning, furnace, boiler, heat pump, and water heater products. DOE would be required to rely on data from qualifying independent certification programs when conducting routine testing of these products. In order to qualify, the certification program must be nationally recognized, provide annual reports of all test results, and maintain a publicly available list of all certified models, among other criteria.
Updates to the 2017 Version
Removed due to being signed into law as part of S. 535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act
The Better Buildings provision, including all three subsections.
The Energy Information for Commercial Buildings provision.
The Water Heaters provision.
Removed as a result of later negotiations
The Voluntary Verification Programs for Air Conditioning, Furnace, Boiler, Heat Pump and Water Heater Products provision.
Technical Corrections Resulting from Energy Policy Modernization Act
The Federal Green Buildings provision (Section 411) has been revised with updated language regarding credits for the sourcing of grown, harvested or mined materials to reward the use of products that have obtained certifications or responsible sourcing. This was Section 1019 of S. 2012.
The Energy Performance Requirement for Federal Buildings (Section 421) has been updated in a similar fashion with rewards for certifications of responsible sourcing of grown, harvested or mined materials. This was Section 1018 of S. 2012.