The Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Federal Facilities Energy Efficiency (article from FEMP Focus Special Issue 2006)

February 27, 2006

A significant portion of the new Energy Policy Act addresses activities to increase National energy supply, and energy technology research and development. There are, however, significant energy efficiency improvement requirements for Federal facilities to lead by example.

The first section in the new Act, Section 101 "Energy and Water Savings Measures in Congressional Buildings", directs the Architect of the Capitol to develop and implement a plan to identify and apply life-cycle cost-effective energy and water conservation measures in all Congressional buildings. The plan must be submitted to Congress within 180 days of passage of the Act and include a schedule of continuing surveys of all buildings every five years to assure that changes in technology and costs are considered in developing cost effective projects. The requirements also include a study of the costs and benefits of the installation of sub-metering of the buildings, and the development of "how to" guides for Members and employees of Congress that identify simple methods to save energy and cost in the workplace.

Section 102 "Energy Management Requirements" establishes new energy efficiency goals for all Federal agencies. The new energy goals are an annual two percent reduction in energy use per gross square foot of buildings, starting in 2006, culminating in a twenty percent reduction in fiscal year 2015—from a new baseline of 2003. The new requirement includes industrial and laboratory buildings in the goal. In an indication that the Congress recognizes the need for continuing emphasis of increased energy efficiency as technology and costs change as well as the difficulty of the requirement, the Secretary of Energy is charged with reviewing the results of the Acts implementation and submitting recommendations for additional energy performance requirements for fiscal years 2016 through 2025.

Section 102 also updates criteria for exclusion of buildings from the energy efficiency goals based on findings by the head of the agency relating to the implementation of all practicable, lifecycle cost-effective projects, energy intensiveness, or national security. As with many other sections of the Act, the Secretary of Energy is required to provide guidance to the agencies on the application for exclusion.

As an incentive, Section 102 includes authority for Federal agencies to retain any funds appropriated to that agency for energy, water, or wastewater treatment expenditures that are not made because of savings through actions taken to comply with the Act. Unless other laws override, the funds can only be used for energy efficiency, water conservation, or unconventional and renewable energy resources projects.

Section 103 "Energy Use Measurement and Accountability" directs that all Federal buildings be metered "…for the purposes of efficient energy use and reduction in the cost of electricity used in such buildings…" by October 1, 2012. The mandate is specific to the measurement of electricity in that advanced meters or metering devices that provide data at least daily and measure the consumption of electricity at least hourly will be used to the maximum extent practicable. Congress recognized the fact that simply metering the buildings is not sufficient to accomplish the energy and cost reduction objectives and required that the data from the meters be incorporated into existing energy tracking systems and made available to the Federal facility managers.

Also recognizing the complexity and potential cost issue, Congress directed that the Secretary of Energy—in consultation with the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and all private sector utilities, metering stakeholders, as well as national laboratories and universities—develop guidelines for implementation within 180 days of the Acts signing. The Congressional mandate includes specific issues to be considered in developing the guidelines, including: the relative costs and benefits of the proposed metering, the amount of funds and personnel resources necessary to implement the mandate, protocol to prioritize metering applications, and guidelines for excluding individual buildings. Within six months of receipt of the guidance, agencies will submit to DOE an implementation plan identifying personnel responsible for achieving the requirements, and any determination by the agency that advanced meters or metering systems are not practicable in their specific situation.

Section 104 "Procurement of Energy Efficient Products" is a requirement that each agency "…incorporate into the specifications for all (emphasis added) procurements involving energy consuming products and systems, including guides specifications, project specifications, and construction, renovation, and services contracts that include provision of energy consuming products and systems, and into the factors for the evaluation of offers received for the procurement, criteria for energy efficiency that are consistent with…Energy Star products and for rating FEMP designated products." This legislative requirement will assure that all Federal contracts that include energy consuming products meet the Energy Star and FEMP standards.

Section 105 "Energy Savings Performance Contracts" extends the authority of the National Energy Conservation Policy Act for Federal agencies to energy into the performance contracts for energy and water conservation to 2016.

To assure that all new Federal buildings incorporate the best energy efficiency techniques available, Section 109 "Federal Building Performance Standards" directs the Secretary of Energy, within one year, to issue a rule that establishes Federal building energy efficiency performance standards. The standards will require that, if life-cycle cost-effective, all new Federal buildings will be designed to achieve energy consumption levels thirty percent below those of the current version of the applicable ASHRAE standard or the International Energy Conservation Code. The requirement further states that sustainable design principles will be applied to the siting, design, and construction of all new and replacement buildings. The section also requires DOE to perform a review within one year of any change to the ASHRAE standard or IECC to see if the Federal guidance should be updated. As an oversight provision, the section also directs each agency to include in its annual budget request and report under the National Energy Policy Act identification of all new buildings and whether they meet of exceed the developed standards.