As the Alliance to Save Energy puts the finishing touches on the agenda and speaker lineup for our 5th annual international conference, EE Global, which takes place this year in Orlando, we continue to pursue our overarching mission of working in the nation’s capital and around the country to advance energy efficiency throughout the U.S. economy.
Our Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization works with policymakers on Capitol Hill to move energy efficiency legislation forward and with state and local officials to strengthen and encourage adoption of energy building codes for new commercial and residential construction. This work has considerable relevance for HVAC contractors, particularly given that buildings account for some 40% of U.S. energy use and emissions.
We also collaborate frequently with manufacturers of appliances and equipment, including HVAC equipment, on the development of new energy efficiency standards for their products. And the Alliance’s Industrial Team works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy and other organizations to develop and mobilize energy efficiency programs for the U.S. industrial sector –that accounts for about a third of total U.S. energy use and 28% of emissions.
Pursuing Energy Efficiency Policies
In formulating and pursuing our energy efficiency policy goals for 2012, we won’t let the partisan gridlock that often prevails in Congress during election years curtail our critically important advocacy of efficiency legislation that saves energy and money for American consumers, businesses, institutions and governments.
In holding true to that goal, this year we are focusing on congressional adoption of broad energy efficiency legislation coupled with strong energy efficiency appliance standards. Fortunately, energy efficiency is a policy that almost always bridges the partisan divide. And currently, two key bills, each of which has bipartisan support, are already pending in Congress.
The broad energy efficiency bill is S. 1000, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, cosponsored by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire (who is an honorary vice chair on the Alliance’s Board of Directors) and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.
The Shaheen-Portman bill would increase energy efficiency across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the U.S. economy by strengthening building energy codes, providing financing options for energy efficiency in manufacturing and requiring the federal government to improve its own energy management. A bipartisan majority of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill last year, and we are urging the Senate leadership to bring it to the floor.
Republican Congressman Charles Bass of New Hampshire recently introduced a complementary energy efficiency bill in the House. The Smart Energy Act of 2012 doesn’t precisely mirror Shaheen-Portman, but we are hopeful that the two are close enough to evolve into an agreed-upon measure that can be enacted into law.
S. 398, the Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act of 2011 (INCAAA) is a standards bill cosponsored by Alliance honorary vice chairs Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Along with updating standards for furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners to take advantage of the latest technologies and efficiency potential, INCAAA would create standards for outdoor lighting and update standards for a number of household appliances.
Building Codes Impact HVAC Industry
As noted, our building codes work has important implications in the HVAC arena. We and other efficiency advocates worked closely with the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) in late 2009 to craft a historic, voluntary agreement to substantially boost the efficiency of residential central air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps.
This area continues to be a focus of our work for this year and beyond. In addition to urging states to adopt the new, 30% stronger, 2012 model building code – the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which sets energy standards for new home construction and renovations to existing homes – we have several ideas about how HVAC contractors can play a greater role in building performance and help shape tomorrow’s solutions including:
• Continuing to promote the credentialing and advanced professionalism efforts of AHRI and sister organizations like the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
• Ensuring that HVAC equipment and materials are designed, installed and maintained by contractors to standards like ACCA Manual J, D and S, as required by the IECC, the International Residential Code, ASHRAE 90.1 and other code-referenced standards.
• Offering expanded services to include whole-building air-sealing and insulation, which expands business opportunities (particularly for residential HVAC contractors) and helps ensure indoor comfort and cost-effectiveness along with improved equipment and whole-building efficiency.
EE Global Can Help
One of the best ways to keep abreast of developments such as these, as well as the latest HVAC technologies, is by attending the Alliance’s EE Global forum in Orlando March 27-29. (This year’s conference is cosponsored by our affiliated Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance.)
At EE Global’s Solutions Showcase trade show, vendors from around the world will present the newest technologies and energy-efficient products for homes and commercial buildings. EE Global offers the chance to meet and network with global policymakers, business executives and opinion leaders who are involved in policies that affect the HVAC community.
Executive Dialogue sessions of particular interest to HVAC professionals include:
• Zeroing in on Homes: The Role of Energy Efficiency in the Residential Sector
• Leveraging Technology to Increase Energy Efficiency
• Get Smart: The Evolving Relationship Between Buildings, Transportation and the Grid
• Navigating the Global Regulatory Maze: Addressing the Need for Harmonization
• Cracking the Green Jobs Conundrum: How can companies capture potential in a mismatched job market?
• Dissecting Retrofit Models.
Be sure to check out our complete list of speakers , too.
We welcome your participation as efficiency advocates, policymakers and industry leaders from around the world collaborate to bring about a more energy-efficient nation and world.
The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security.