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New Legislation Would Save Money, Improve Energy Usage in Federal Buildings

Monday, November 7, 2011  
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New legislation introduced this past Friday would help federal agencies save energy and money by improving building performance in federal buildings. The legislation addresses a number of ways to achieve high-performance buildings, such as the use of life-cycle cost analysis, integrated design processes, building information modeling (BIM) and building commissioning.

Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO) formally introduced the bi-partisan "High-Performance Federal Buildings Act” on November 4, with co-sponsors Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Donna Edwards (D-MD), John Garamendi (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Michael Honda (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), and Peter Welch (D-VT). The language reflects recommendations made by the executive committee of the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition, of which the National Institute of Building Sciences is a member.

"We can’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to building construction," said Congressman Carnahan upon introduction of the legislation. "Getting serious about saving taxpayer money—and energy—starts with this bipartisan legislation. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this bill and start saving now."

The legislation provisions would:

  • Use life-cycle cost analysis to assure that overall spending on design, construction and operations and maintenance reflects the best use of agency funds. Agencies should consider the total cost of ownership of their buildings, including operating costs.
  • Provide federal agencies with access to the tools and techniques that facilitate the development of high-performance buildings, including building information modeling (BIM), commissioning and integrated design processes, to assure that buildings are designed and operate with the greatest levels of efficiency.
  • Share results, lessons learned and case studies from federal buildings to improve both public and private sector buildings, thus saving money while improving performance.
  • Update regulations for the use of energy and water in federal buildings to reflect the most current codes and standards being used in the private sector. This would reduce costs in the design of buildings by allowing design teams to use familiar practices and procedures to demonstrate compliance.

"We commend Representative Carnahan and the co-sponsors for their leadership in recognizing the benefits achieving high-performance buildings can have on the federal budget,” said Institute President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. "We at the Institute would be happy to assist federal agencies with implementing the concepts embodied in this legislation.”

A related piece of legislation passed during the last session of Congress. The "Federal Building Personnel Training Act," introduced by Representative Carnahan and Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL), provided recommendations on education and training for federal building operations and maintenance personnel.

View the "High-Performance Federal Buildings Act."

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