Last week, (Monday, January 21) in his second inaugural address, President Obama highlighted the need to mitigate the growing impacts of climate change, saying “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” The next day—the first of the 113th Congress—Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) answered that call for action by introducing a bill aimed at promoting energy efficiency in federal and other buildings.
The bill, Promoting Efficiency and Savings in Government Act (S. 52), builds on existing efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It would require GSA to conduct energy audits on all GSA-owned buildings to identify ways to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs (while also calculating those cost savings) and pay for those improvements within a decade. GSA also would have to report to Congress and the public within a year on the energy and cost savings tied to improving efficiency. It then would be required to set minimum energy-intensity and lighting-efficiency standards—and record energy- and water-efficiency information—for all federal government building leases.
Boxer also said—in a letter to Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, dated January 21—that the bill would include a program modeled after the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program (TIFIA). That program, which she is calling BIFIA (for buildings), would enable local communities to leverage private sector funds to help them “invest in clean technologies that reduce energy demands, lower energy bills, and promote more durable energy systems.”