Building Operating Management


By Ed Sullivan   BOM

After a year in which energy made the headlines more than it has in decades, the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives are moving to tackle the issue of energy efficiency.

Although it’s far too soon to predict how things will turn out, the early signs are encouraging.

Consider the Bush Administration’s new budget. Proposed funding for two major areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Department of Energy is up by nearly $50 million, an increase of almost 10 percent for the programs in the Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the Building Technology, State and Community Sector.

One key program for facility executives is slated to get a big increase: The proposed budget for Energy Star programs more than doubled, to more than $6 million.

Other big gainers are hydrogen-based energy production, which includes fuel cells, and wind energy. The appropriation for research and development of hydrogen fuels, described in the budget as “the ideal fuel” seen by many scientists as “the basis for the total sustainable clean economy of the future,” jumps 37 percent, to nearly $40 million. The budget for wind energy is up 14 percent, to $44 million.

Both houses of Congress are also moving forward on bills that would offer incentives for energy changes in commercial buildings. According to an analysis by the Alliance to Save Energy, bills in both houses would provide for a $2.25 per square foot deduction for improvements that cut a facility’s energy cost by 50 percent, along with tax credits for combined heat and power plants and for fuel cells.

How much of this will survive remains to be seen. The economy is still weak, and budget deficits are looming; as the budget deliberations unfold, look for fierce battles over what programs will be cut. In that political environment, the fate of efficiency measures may depend in part on how much support they receive from building owners and building product manufacturers.

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  posted on 3/1/2002   Article Use Policy