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Energy Department Finalizes Regulations to Increase Energy Efficiency in New Federal Buildings

By CP Editorial Staff - January 2008 - Energy Efficiency


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has established regulations that require new Federal buildings to achieve at least 30 percent greater energy efficiency over prevailing building codes. 

Mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), the standards apply to new federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings, as well as new federal low-rise residential buildings  designed for construction that began on or after January 3, 2007.  These standards are also 40 percent more efficient than the current Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and carry out portions of President Bush’s executive order, which directed federal agencies to reduce energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions; substantially increase use and efficiency of renewable energy technologies; and adopt sustainable design practices.

Over the course of the next ten years, these standards are estimated to save $776 million dollars (in 2004 dollars) and more than 40 trillion British thermal units of energy, while reducing emissions by an estimated 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.  Specifically, these standards replace existing Federal building energy efficiency standards found in 10 CFR Part 434 (for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings) and 10 CFR Part 435 Subpart C (for low-rise residential buildings).

These new standards are based on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)/ Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Standard 90.1-2004 for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings and the 2004 version of the International Code Council (ICC) International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for low-rise residential buildings.

“Dramatically elevating building efficiency standards to these unprecedented levels substantially transforms the way the federal government manages and uses energy,” says Andy Karsner, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  “These standards contribute to sound and stable efficiency policy that will yield real, substantive energy savings and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”  

There are three key features of these new standards that differentiate them from previous federal building energy efficiency standards.  First, new federal standards are based directly on updated prevailing voluntary sector standards in effort to maximize resources and take advantage of improvements in those voluntary sector standards. Second, new federal standards seek improvements above and beyond those of the voluntary sector standards through consideration of and entire building’s performance, rather than on prescriptive requirements for individual building components and systems.  This approach aims to provide the maximum amount of flexibility to federal agencies and their design teams as they address the requirements of these new standards.  Third, new Federal standards require at least 30 percent energy savings over the prevailing voluntary sector standard. Achieving this level of savings will likely require Federal agencies and their design teams to use an integrated design approach for new buildings.





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