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Section 201 of Waxman-Markey Could Impose Energy Efficiency Mandates as Decried by NAIOP

As the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation heads to the Senate, I think it’s important to note that, as currently drafted, the bill includes provisions that could impose the types of energy efficiency mandates which NAIOP argued against in its controversial report that was released earlier this year. Section 201 of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) would first set baseline standards for all commercial (ASHRAE 90.1-2004) and residential buildings (the 2006 IECC code) and dates for certain percentage reduction targets in energy consumption over those baselines. The Act would require an immediate 30 percent reduction over those baselines once enacted (likely in 2011 or 2012 if the bill proceeds through the Senate and is implemented as drafted), followed closely by a 50 percent reduction by 2014 for residential buildings and 2015 for commercial buildings. The reduction mandate would increase by 5 percent every 3 years through 2029/2030 for a total reduction of 75 percent over the baselines. However, the Department of Energy would have the ability to increase or decrease the reduction targets based on technological feasibility. Section 201 further obligates state and local governments to adopt the codes, or their own codes that meet or exceed the established targets; the federal government itself will enforce the national codes if state and local governments fail to comply.

If you recall the comments from NAIOP President Thomas Bisacquino in the aftermath of the uproar created by the NAIOP study, Waxman-Markey may ultimately create the precise scenario that NAIOP and its constituents feared: 30 to 50 percent reductions over ASHRAE 90.1-2004 in the short-term. As you may remember, Mr. Bisacquino stated that “to mandate these targets right now, of 30 percent efficiency by 2010, is unrealistic for a lot of properties.” (Note that, even if the bill passes, it will likely not impose the first round of reductions until 2011 or 2012). In the study, NAIOP also argued in favor of increasing available incentives at the local, state, and federal levels to create more palatable payback periods for commercial owners and operators. Accordingly, it will be interesting to see if NAIOP pushes DOE to relax the Section 201 requirements if Waxman-Markey makes it through the Senate, or if this particular section of the bill generates any additional commentary from NAIOP or Mr. Bisacquino. Regardless, it’s clear that building performance- and associated liability concerns- will become increasingly critical issues moving forward if every building in the country is required to meet these new national energy efficient building codes.

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