Senate Debates National Defense Bill; Implications Possible for Standard 189.1

Senate Debates National Defense Bill; Implications Possible for Standard 189.1

Back from their Thanksgiving break, the House and Senate have been busy working through a long list of bills, and trying to reach agreement on a solution to the expiring tax issues and automatic federal spending cuts – often called the “fiscal cliff.” The top issue in the Senate has been debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 – a bill that allows for spending on U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) programs, including military construction; and it is in the military construction section of the bill that has ASHRAE interested.

Specifically, the House-passed version of the NDAA would prohibit DOD from using FY 2012 or 2013 funds to implement ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES 189.1 Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. This bill would also continue the prohibition on the use of DOD funds for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold or Platinum certifications. The House Armed Services Committee report on the bill provides some insight into this section:

“The [Armed Services] committee remains concerned that the Department of Defense is investing significant funding for more aggressive certifications without demonstrating the appropriate return on investment.”

A recent report by the National Research Council on the cost effectiveness of Standard 189.1 found that over 40 years, a building the follows 189.1-2011 would have (for medium office and small hotel buildings):
• Net cost savings of 189.1-2011 ranges from $955,630 to $2.1 million per building on operational savings.
• Adjusted Rate of Return on Investment from 6.3 to 8.7%.
• Simple payback is from 2.9 to 6.5 years.

In partial response to this report, the Senate NDAA does not currently contain the House prohibition on the use of DOD funds to implement Standard 189.1. The Senate is expected to pass its version of the NDAA sometime next week; House and Senate leaders will then meet in a conference committee to work out differences between their two versions – possibly including this section – before producing a final compromise bill that goes back to the House and Senate for one last vote before being presented to the President for his signature or veto.

For additional information, contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at or 202-833-1830.