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Introduced Climate Change Legislation Has Residential EE Provisions

Mar 15, 2021

 

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) have introduced the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act. The ambitious legislation’s goal is to act aggressively to address climate change this decade and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution.

The 981-page comprehensive CLEAN Future Act is aimed at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, with an interim target of reducing pollution by 50 percent from 2005 levels, no later than 2030. The targets come from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has stated that carbon production must be reduced to net-zero by 2050 to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

According to the bill’s sponsors, the legislation “presents both sector-specific and economy-wide solutions to meet those targets, offering a sweeping set of policy proposals that will put the United States on the path to a cleaner and more economically prosperous future”.

A key provision of the legislation addresses building energy efficiency. The CLEAN Future Act aims at improving the efficiency of new and existing buildings, as well as the equipment and appliances that operate within them. It establishes national energy savings targets for continued improvement of model building energy codes, leading to a requirement of zero-energy-ready buildings by 2030.

The bill also sets energy and water savings targets for federal buildings and provides funding for schools, homes, and municipal buildings to improve energy and water efficiency and deploy energy-efficient technologies.

Key components of the legislation’s residential provisions of particular interest to the RESNET community include:

Strengthening Building Energy Codes – Provisions include:

o Establishes national energy savings targets for building energy codes that would require zero energy ready buildings by 2030. Zero energy ready homes are defined as “a highly efficient building that could meet the balance of energy needs from onsite or nearby sources of energy that do not produce greenhouse gases.’’
o Directs the Secretary of Energy to provide timely technical assistance and propose amendments to the model codes or standards organization, consistent with the national energy savings targets.
o Directs DOE to evaluate each revision of a model building energy code to determine whether the revision will meet the national energy savings targets. If a revision of a model building energy code does not meet the appropriate target, DOE must either designate a model code that meets the target, issue amendments, or develop an alternative model building energy code.
o Directs DOE to provide technical and financial support for the development of stretch codes and advanced standards.
o Bill authorizes $200 million in support of these activities.  If this legislation passes Congress would have to separately appropriate the funds.

Establishment in DOE a “Home Energy Savings Retrofit Rebate Program” that would provide rebates to homeowners for improving the efficiency of their existing homes – Provisions include:

o Offering the following rebates:
– $800 for installation of insulation and air sealing
– $1,500 for installation of insulation, air sealing, and replacement of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system
– $2,000 for retrofits calculated to save at least 20 percent of energy usage
– $4,000 for retrofits calculated to save at least 40 percent of energy usage
o The legislation would authorize $1.6 billion for each federal fiscal year from 2022 through 2031.  If this legislation passes Congress would have to separately appropriate the funds each fiscal year.
o Training of contractors to advance the expertise and education of contractors in energy efficiency retrofits of residential buildings leading to the certification by RESNET, BPI, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, NATE, National Comfort Institute, US Green Building Council, or Home Innovation Research Labs.

In order to go into effect, the legislation must be passed by the full House of Representatives, the Senate, and signed into law by President Biden.

For a section by section analysis of the legislation go to Summary of the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act

To download the entire bill go to Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act. The provisions on building energy efficiency begin on page 234.

RESNET will track this legislation and other bills introduced in this Congress aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of homes.  To learn how you can have your voice heard in Congress go to RESNET’s webpage on RESNET Advocacy.