Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015

The United States Congress recently passed a bipartisan bill known as the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, also known as Better Buildings Act of 2015. The law aims to cut energy use in commercial buildings, plants and homes, and will provide a public benchmark study of energy use so homeowners and facility managers can learn about and compare their own energy performance.

Backed by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the legislation was signed into law by President Obama April 30, 2015, and he made a brief statement of support moments before.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome some outstanding legislators and advocates on behalf of an issue that should always be bipartisan, and this is making sure that we have the most energy-efficient economy in the world,” said President Obama.

Tenant Star

One particular requirement of the act is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have joined to created a “Tenant Star” program. This program is the first government-endorsed label that recognizes and brands tenants who choose to install highly energy-efficient, sustainable materials and systems.

In the past, the EPA and the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Environmental Efficiency and Design (LEED) have incentivized contractors and developers to build smart, energy-efficient structures. However, engaging tenants more deeply through the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 and “Tenant Star” will amplify developer’s and contractor’s green efforts already in place.

Modeled after the Energy Star program, this new energy reform should have a snowball effect for a better economy. First, the program incentivizes tenants to make cost-effective energy choices through construction and energy-efficient materials, then broad adoption of better habits are expected to save companies billions of dollars on energy costs and create new jobs in the energy field.

Implementation & Follow-Up

The newly enacted law will be overseen by the DOE’s Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz and his department. No later than 90 days after the law is active, the Secretary will publish a notice on the Federal Register asking the public to comment about best practices for energy efficiency, including materials, methods and systems.

One year after the enactment, the DOE team will conduct a study that shows the feasibility of greatly boosting the energy-efficiency in commercial buildings through designing and constructing high-performance energy efficiency measures. The study will be published on the DOE’s website.

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