'Tis the Season for Efficiency Wins | Alliance to Save Energy

'Tis the Season for Efficiency Wins

It’s that time of year again. Time to think about what to put on our holiday wish list, and here at the Alliance, we know just what we want. Last month, the International Energy Agency said that global progress on energy efficiency is slow enough to be “worrying in a world where there is a growing disconnect between political statements and global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.” Put another way, this holiday season is the perfect time for the U.S. to get its act together on efficiency policy. So, here’s what we’re asking for:

Updated and reinstated energy efficiency tax credits. Wouldn’t you want a nice tax break in your stocking for buying a high-efficiency heating system or installing insulation in your home? Congress has the opportunity to make that happen by passing legislation to strengthen and modernize federal tax incentives that encourage energy efficiency upgrades in homes and commercial buildings.

These policies have been expired for nearly two years, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced bills that would reform the credits to better encourage homeowners, builders, and developers to deploy the best efficiency technologies. Our wish: Congress gets the deal done.

Strong funding for federal efficiency programs. Funding for federal efficiency programs is once again in limbo as Congress is gridlocked on unrelated issues. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a robust funding plan covering the programs for fiscal year 2020 in June, and the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a bill in September that embraced energy efficiency investments even further. Right now, Congress has funded federal departments only through Nov. 21, and at last year’s levels.

More “continuing resolutions” that simply maintain the status quo are undesirable because they prevent departments from planning appropriately. Our wish: Congress quits being a scrooge and passes spending bills with efficiency funding at the highest approved levels.

Passage of the Portman-Shaheen efficiency bill. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) reintroduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act – and this version is better than ever, with several key provisions that would reduce energy use in homes, federal facilities, and other buildings. The Senate Energy Committee advanced the bill on a bipartisan basis in September. Our wish: The legislative gift we’ve waited for so long becomes law.

Strengthened model building codes. Every three years, officials from municipalities across the country vote on updates to the International Energy Conservation Code, a model efficiency code that’s widely adopted by states and local governments. At stake is the energy efficiency of new homes and buildings across the country.

Participants will decide on a series of proposals affecting the efficiency of new homes and buildings, as well as provisions to ensure that new homes and buildings are ready for electric vehicle charging. Voting is currently in progress. Our wish: Codes that make a strong step forward to higher efficiency.

A strong plan from House lawmakers for investing in efficient transportation. Transportation is the leading source of carbon emissions in the U.S., and the best way to tackle those emissions is through improved efficiency. (See the Alliance 50x50 Commission’s helpful recommendations). In July, senators introduced and advanced through committee a highway bill that was an encouraging start for tackling energy use in transportation.

Now the ball is in the court of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which is developing its parallel bill. Our wish: The committee develops a strong plan for efficient transportation.

Bold energy efficiency commitments around the world. As leaders from across the globe gather for the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid right now, we hope that policymakers, investors, and corporate leaders prioritize energy efficiency as a key climate solution – and set more ambitious energy efficiency targets. Our wish: governments and organizations join the Three Percent Club, committing to work together to put the world on a path to three percent annual efficiency improvement.

These policies showcase what we already know: efficiency is the gift that keeps on giving. This holiday season, let’s make this wish list a reality.