Greg Ugalde, chairman of the NAHB, and a Connecticut builder and developer, said the trade group supports energy efficiency, but has concerns about the costs the Senate bill would impose on builders.
“NAHB supports efforts to promote energy efficiency but believes the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act introduced by Sens. Shaheen and Portman takes the wrong approach. Specifically, the legislation would harm housing affordability by imposing overly costly and aggressive energy efficiency requirements in model building energy codes," Ugalde said. "Moreover, the bill would discourage states from adopting codes that meet their specific needs. As written, NAHB would be opposed to this bill."
Instead, the NAHB is backing a bill from Reps. Kurt Schrader and Bill Flores, which Ugalde says offers a more cost-effective way to encourage energy efficiency. “The Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act would accelerate cost-savings for home owners by requiring that any code or proposal supported by the Department of Energy has a payback of 10 years or less," he said, in support of the alternative bill.
Both pieces of legislation enjoy bi-partisan sponsorship. According to Portman, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act would improve energy efficiency in the federal government sector, as well as in buildings and industrial.
A summary of the bill (PDF) states it uses "low-cost tools" to make becoming more energy-efficient easier for private sector users and making the nation's largest energy consumer, the federal government, more efficient as well. It would, if enacted, incentivize the use of technologies "commercially available today" that can be widely deployed and pay for themselves in short order. It's provisions include grant programs, training and targeted funding allocations.
Portman said the legislation will create jobs while also protecting the environment without imposing any new taxes or mandates. "It’s good news for the taxpayer, too, because it would make the federal government practice what it preaches and use energy more efficiently," he said. "And by saving consumers billions in reduced energy costs, it will help reduce the cost of living, ensuring hard-working Americans have a few dollars extra at the end of each month that they can use to pay for needed expenses, invest in their child’s college education, or save for retirement."
Shaheen said the bill will help the U.S. achieve energy independence. “This bill provides a path forward to making significant progress on reducing carbon emissions in order to address climate change. It’s a win for jobs, consumers and the environment. Congress should seize this opportunity," said Shaheen.
According to Portman, some of the components of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act were already signed into law in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama. Ugalde added the NAHB hopes to work with Congress to develop a cost-effective way to push home owners toward energy efficiency.