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Is Energy/Climate Legislation Still Possible?


Today's tip is about what facility managers may be able to expect from Capitol Hill over the next few years in terms of energy and climate legislation. The short answer is: not much. Or, not much of a comprehensive nature, at least.

Most experts agree that the comprehensive climate and energy bill - called the Waxman-Markey bill - which was passed by the House in the summer of 2009 is all but dead. The bill went through various forms in the Senate, but never went anywhere.

Now, with a divided Congress, most experts think there's very little chance of the comprehensive climate bill Obama promised during the campaign. But there are three areas where experts suggest legislative action is possible.

First, financial incentives for energy efficiency. According to Duane Desiderio of The Real Estate Roundtable, Congress has recognized that the EPAct 2005 financial incentives are not being utilized because they’re too cumbersome. New legislation that offers a tax credit, as opposed to a tax deduction, as well as a easier application process, would better incentivize facility managers to take advantage of federal incentives for energy efficiency.

Secondly, we'll probably see more stringent renewable portfolio standards, mostly at the state level. RPS specifies a particular percentage of energy from renewable sources utilities, municipalities or whole states must produce. Many states have these now, but chances are more states and municipalities will enact them, with the slight possibility of a national RPS.

Finally, there will be more action on building labeling programs and stricter energy efficiency and green building codes. Several municipalities – including Seattle, Washington D.C., and New York City have already implemented mandatory building labeling programs that make energy use public. California recently enacted the first statewide green building code, and many municipalities and states are considering implementing the new ASHRAE 189.1 code or the ICC's International Green Construction Code.

So, stay tuned.

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