The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International was among 15 partner organizations who joined the U.S. Green Building Council this month to announce the release of a report that recommends nearly 3 dozen executive actions across 23 agency programs where the Obama Administration can drive the economic and environmental benefits of green building without new legislation.
The report, “Better Buildings though Executive Action: Leveraging Existing Authorities to Promote Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Multifamily and Commercial Buildings,” builds on a 2010 report that identified nearly 100 legal authority opportunities across 30 existing federal programs worth more than $72 billion to improve energy efficiency in U.S. building stock.
USGBC and the 15 partner organizations (including BOMA International) worked closely with federal government officials to identify new executive policymaking opportunities to achieve greener buildings. Since the first report of April 2010, there has been significant progress in implementing several proposals, including the Administration’s “Better Buildings Initiative,” which contains many recommendations of the 2010 report, such as improving the Energy Efficiency Commercial Building Tax Deduction, using Department of Energy loan guarantees and utilizing Small Business Administration financing programs to support energy efficiency retrofits at commercial buildings.
“The success of the Better Buildings Initiative is a good example of how executive action can propel real economic and environmental benefits for commercial buildings,” said BOMA International Chair Boyd R. Zoccola, who is also executive vice president of Hokanson Companies Inc.
“The recommendations in the ‘Better Buildings through Executive Action’ report can help build on this success as we continue to work with the Administration to identify the best opportunities to improve energy efficiency across the commercial building stock,” Zoccola said.
“In the time since we distributed this original report in 2010, the unemployment crisis has deepened and Congress has become further paralyzed by partisan gridlock and concerns over the deficit,” said Roger Platt, senior vice president of global policy and law for the USGBC.
“We felt it was important to once again draw attention to the potential to create jobs and accelerate economic growth through energy efficient and sustainable buildings. This potential only takes root when matched by supportive federal policies, like the Better Buildings Initiative, which encourage investment in high-performance buildings.”
Specifically, the report identifies significant new opportunities within programs and legal authorities that were not covered in the 2010 report. Some of the most promising opportunities include:
* Releasing updated guidance on the use of Section 179D, the deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings;
* Overcoming obstacles for building owners to capture aggregated data of tenant energy consumption in multitenant structures;
* Facilitating the use of widely-recognized residential energy efficiency labels;
* Integrating building energy efficiency and sustainability into programs managed by the Economic Development Administration;
* Better utilizing the Department of Defense’s procurement and research authorities to promote green buildings;
* Implementing all cost-effective retrofits identified through audits carried out by federal agencies, using energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) or other innovative financing.
The report also provides a summary of progress and major developments, including:
* The Administration’s “Better Buildings Initiative,” which contains many elements of the 2010 report such as improving the Energy Efficiency Commercial Building Tax Deduction, using Department of Energy loan guarantees, and utilizing Small Business Administration financing programs to support energy efficiency retrofits at commercial buildings.
* An interagency effort to establish uniform energy efficiency standards across federal housing programs and to require the use of “green capital needs assessments” to identify and encourage energy efficiency or sustainability improvements in federally-assisted housing.
* Reforms that give energy efficient and sustainable housing an edge in a number of competitive solicitations, managed by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
* A joint initiative by the Department of Energy and the Appraisal Foundation to promote fair appraisal standards and practices with respect to energy efficient and sustainable buildings.
* A proposed commercial building energy performance rating program sponsored by the Department of Energy.
In addition, the release of today’s report comes on the heels of the U.S. Government Accountability Office review of the 2010 report and calls for additional coordination between federal agencies in funding projects with green building criteria.
The report was prepared by the law firm Van Ness Feldman. In addition to BOMA International, the partners included The Center for American Progress, Energy Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, HDR, Inc., Ingersoll Rand (NYSE: IR), Johnson Controls, Inc. (NYSE: JCI), Lennar Homes (NYSE: LEN), National Association of State Energy Officials, National Housing Conference, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Real Estate Roundtable, Schneider Electric, Siemens AG (NYSE: SI) and United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX).