ASHRAE Government Affairs Update

ASHRAE Volunteers Help Achieve Success for Standard 189.1 in National Defense Bill

In one of their last major actions of the year, last week Members of Congress overwhelmingly passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R.4310).The passage of this bill, which contains no restrictions on the use of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) funds for ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 – Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, represented a major victory for ASHRAE and supporters of Standard 189.1. This success was largely due to the efforts of ASHRAE volunteers, who helped educate key Congressional staff on the importance and cost-effectiveness of the Standard. ASHRAE also coordinated its efforts with a number of technical societies and stakeholder organizations to help remove this restriction from the final bill.

If left intact, the restriction on DOD would have directly impacted the U.S. Army, which has been required to begin using Standard 189.1 since the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year, which began this past October.
Reference to Standard 189.1 is specifically mentioned in the joint statement from the managers of the bill; the joint statement is used to help convey legislative intent:

“The conferees note that while there is no prohibition limiting the use of funds for implementation of ASHRAE building standard 189.1, they expect DOD to not provide broad, sweeping policy guidance on the use of ASHRAE building standard 189.1 but rather utilize this standard on a project by project basis to maximize savings based on geographic locations and returns on investment through water and energy efficiencies, among other considerations.”

The final bill also continues the DOD prohibition on the use of funds for LEED Gold or Platinum certifications – but adds a new qualifier – this prohibition ends when DOD provides guidance to the Congressional Armed Services Committees on the Department’s pursuit and use of building rating systems and standards for energy and water efficiency and sustainable design.

The NDAA is one of the few yearly must-pass bills, as it paves the way for funding DOD programs and activities – including military facility construction. The passage of this year's bill represents the 51st consecutive time this has happened. Although President Barack Obama issued a veto threat over provisions in the bill concerning issues such as the transfer of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, the President is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

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

Rep. Peter Welch New Co-Lead for High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus

High-performance buildings help create local jobs, while lowering overall costs and enhancing their communities. In recognition of the critical need to improve our nation’s public and private buildings, where people spend about 90 percent of their time, U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) has taken up the important task of co-leading the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus.

Formed in 2008, the Caucus heightens awareness among federal policymakers about the major impacts that buildings have on the health, safety and welfare of the general public, and the opportunities to design, construct and operate buildings addressing these factors.

Specifically, the Caucus focuses on the eight aspects of high-performance buildings outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007:

- Accessibility
- Aesthetics
- Cost-Effectiveness
- Functionality
- Historic Preservation
- Productivity
- Safety and Security
- Sustainability

“This Caucus is about finding practical ways to make progress in Washington,” Welch said. “Despite the heated political rhetoric, common ground does exist. For example, while there are big differences on energy policy, everyone agrees that using less energy is a good thing. So why not work together to make homes and buildings more energy efficient? It’s simply common sense. This Caucus will help identify more areas where we can work together, and I am pleased to serve as its co-chair.”

“The Coalition is delighted with Welch’s new leadership role as the Democratic Co-Chair of the Caucus,” said Doug Read, who serves as both ASHRAE's Director of Government Affairs and Chair of the Caucus Coalition. “His leadership over the years on building energy efficiency and sustainability has resulted in the introduction and passage of several key bills in Congress. The Coalition looks forward to working with him and the rest of the Caucus to continue educating members of Congress on the importance of high-performance buildings issues.”

The Caucus is supported by the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (, a broad-based group of over 160 technical societies, associations, and businesses. Since 2008, the Coalition has held over 40 briefings on Capitol Hill to help educate policymakers and bridge the gap between the often highly technical and highly political worlds inhabited by the building community and Congress.

New Year Brings New Grassroots Policy Proposals

As 2013 is arriving, state policymakers have begun crafting their policy agenda for the upcoming biennium. With most state legislatures starting new biennia, new legislators, new ideas, and new challenges will arise.

ASHRAE’s new Grassroots Government Activities Committee (GGAC), which is set to kick off in the 2013-14 Society Year, will be the hub of communicating what is going on policy-wise across the United States. Regional Vice Chairs (RVCs) from each of the Society’s 14 regions will disseminate information to chapters and members and guide them on how to best affect public policy. ASHRAE members are uniquely qualified to provide technical assistance and advice to those making policy decisions in their communities on a number of issues – notably, building energy codes and standards and high-performance, or “green,” buildings.

During ASHRAE’s Winter Meeting in Dallas, the new GGAC RVCs will meet to discuss how:

- Best to work with policymakers
- The new committee fits into the Society’s member services mission
- To zero in on which policy concerns are most important in their respective regions
- Coordinate GGAC-related activities between chapters in their regions

To learn more about the evolution of the GGAC or how you can help in these new ventures, contact Mark Wills, ASHRAE's Manager of State and Local Government Affairs, at or 202-833-1830.

ASHRAE's Government Affairs Updates detail 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.