Department of Energy Finalizes Regulations to Increase Energy Efficiency in New Federal Buildings by 30 Percent

April 11, 2008

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has established regulations requiring new Federal buildings to achieve at least 30 percent greater energy efficiency over prevailing building codes, if life-cycle cost-effective. Mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005), these standards apply to new Federal low-rise residential buildings and commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings for which design for construction began on or after January 3, 2007. These standards are also about 40 percent more efficient than the old Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Specifically, these standards replace existing Federal building energy efficiency standards found in 10 CFR Part 434 (for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings) and 10 CFR Part 435 Subpart C (for low-rise residential buildings). The new Federal standards are in 10 CFR Part 433 (for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings) and 10 CFR Subpart A (for low-rise residential buildings). They are based on the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers/Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Standard 90.1-2004 for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings and the 2004 version of the International Code Council's International Energy Conservation Code for low-rise residential buildings.

"Dramatically elevating building efficiency standards to these unprecedented levels substantially transforms the way the Federal government manages and uses energy," DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said. "These standards contribute to sound and stable efficiency policy that will yield real, substantive energy savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."

Over the course of the next ten years, these standards are estimated to save taxpayers $776 million dollars (in 2004 dollars) and more than 40 trillion British thermal units of energy, while reducing emissions by an estimated 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Three key features of these new standards differentiate them from previous Federal building energy efficiency standards. First, the new Federal standards are based directly upon the updated and prevailing voluntary sector standards in effort to maximize resources and take advantage of improvements in those voluntary sector standards. Second, the new Federal standards seek improvements above and beyond those of the voluntary sector standards through consideration of an entire building's performance, rather than on prescriptive requirements for individual building components and systems. This approach provides the maximum amount of flexibility to Federal agencies and their design teams as they address the new requirements. Third, the new Federal standards require at least 30 percent energy savings over the prevailing voluntary sector standard. Achieving this level of savings will require Federal agencies and their design teams to use an integrated design approach for new buildings.

Section 305(a)(1) of the Energy Conservation and Production Act, as amended by EPAct, directed DOE to implement these regulations. Section 109 of EPACT 2005 also requires the use of cost-effective sustainable design principles and water conservation technologies. DOE is expected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on these additional requirements this year.

For more information, please contact Cyrus Nasseri of FEMP at or 202-586-9138.