On April 21, 2015, Congress passed S 535, “The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015”.  The legislation was sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jean Shaheen (D-NH).The modest energy efficiency legislation includes three provisions drawn from a larger efficiency bill sponsored by the two Senators:

  • Promotion of commercial building energy-use benchmarking and disclosure
  • Establishment of a voluntary “Tenant Star” program to promote energy efficiency in rental property that would certify and recognize commercial building tenants for achieving high levels of energy efficiency
  • Adjustment of efficiency standards for “grid-connected” water heaters, so that water heaters needed for demand response and thermal storage programs can continue to be sold

To down load the legislation go to Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015

The legislation was attached to a “must pass” budget bill shortly before the Senate voted on the larger measure.  Because of this, the scope of the energy efficiency provisions was limited.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.

While the legislation is limited in scope, it represents a positive step.  Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, commented, “What is probably most notable is that, in an environment where the political parties can agree on very little, energy efficiency is one of the few issues that generates enough bipartisan support to pass legislation. In fact, the bill passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming margins.”

Meanwhile the larger energy efficiency legislation sponsored by Senators Portman and Shaheen is still working its way through Congress.  The larger legislation includes the SAVE Act which would reform mortgage lending to take into account the energy performance of a home in the mortgage loan. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are expected to hold hearings on larger energy efficiency legislation soon.

In the past, partisan politics have brought down the larger effort.  There have been major disagreements regarding unrelated issues such as climate change and the Keystone XL Pipeline leading to an impasse.

RESNET will continue to track the larger Portman Shaheen bill and advocate for the SAVE Act.