Life-Cycle Cost and Commissioning Requirements for Federal Buildings Gain Support in the U.S. House

Life-Cycle Cost and Commissioning Requirements for Federal Buildings Gain Support in the U.S. House

Efforts to promote life-cycle cost considerations and building commissioning gained an important victory when a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved two amendments to the Public Buildings Reform Act (H.R.6430).

Offered by U.S. Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO), the two amendments were drawn from the Congressman’s High-Performance Federal Buildings Act (H.R.3371). One of the amendments would require GSA to consider life-cycle costs during the design of buildings for structures whose estimated construction costs top $1 million, and where the federal government is paying more than half of the construction expenses. Under the bill, life-cycle costs would include the sum of investment, capital, installation, energy, operating, maintenance, and replacement expenses over the greater of either 50 years or the projected use period of the building. The amendment would also require GSA to report on life-cycle cost savings for buildings that GSA acquires or leases.

Mr. Carnahan’s other amendment would require GSA to issue regulations that establish federal building commissioning standards that are modeled on existing private sector standards and guidelines, which could include ASHRAE Guideline 0 – The Commissioning Process. Buildings that GSA constructs or alters would be required to meet the commissioning standards GSA issues.

While these victories should be celebrated, the future of the Public Buildings Reform Act, which now includes Mr. Carnahan’s amendments, remains uncertain, as the bill still faces approval from the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee before being considered on the House floor for passage, and would then need to overcome similar hurdles in the Senate. Given the congested post-election Congressional agenda, hope for this bill may indeed be slim, though still present, as these issue have bipartisan support.

This article is from ASHRAE's Government Affairs Update, which features information on government affairs-related activities of interest to ASHRAE members and others interested in the built environment. Archives of previous updates are available from the Government Affairs website.