ASHRAE Government Affairs Update

President Obama Calls for Cutting Commercial and Residential Energy Waste in Half Within 20 Years in State of the Union

President Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union Address since his reelection, during which he laid out his priorities for 2013 and the first portion of his second term. During his speech the President called for a greater focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to help prepare students for current and future jobs, and called on Congress to work with him to address the looming the effects of the across-the-board spending cuts, also known as sequestration, which is scheduled to begin on March 1, 2013, unless Congress and the White House act.

The President also issued a new goal: to cut commercial and residential energy waste in half over the next 20 years. President Obama stated that his administration would work with states to accomplish this goal, and would provide federal support to the states that have “the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings.” Additional details on the President’s proposals are expected in the months to come.

Audio and visual of the President’s speech, including the complete text of his remarks, can be found here.

President Obama and Rep. Lipinski Issue Statements in Support of EWeek

This week is National Engineers Week (EWeek) – a time when the many contributions that engineers make to society are celebrated throughout the United States. Sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation, EWeek runs February 17-23, and involves a number of events designed to inspire interest in and encourage K-12 students to pursue a career in engineering. For a complete list of programs, and ways to get involved in the Foundation’s year-round events, click here.

President Obama recently issued a statement supporting EWeek, which reads:

“I send greetings to all those observing Engineers Week 2013.

“If there is one idea that sets our country apart from every other nation, it is the idea that in America, success does not depend on where you were born or what your last name is. Success depends on the ideas you can dream up, the possibilities you can envision, and the hard work you are willing to do to make them real.

“Initiatives like National Engineers Week help instill this believe in our next generation of doers and makers. By sparking young people’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, these efforts will keep the American spirit of curiosity and innovation alive for years to come.

“As you celebrate the ways engineering improves our lives, I wish you all the best for an enjoyable week.”

Similarly, U.S. Representative Daniel Lipinski (IL-3), who is one of the few Members of Congress with an engineering degree, also issued a statement in support of EWeek:

“Engineering is problem solving, and we need engineers to help solve many of the problems that our nation and our world face today,” Lipinski said. “Engineers are working to bring us cheaper and cleaner energy. They are making us safer on the roads and in the air. And they are helping to design and produce other life-saving devices. Engineers play a tremendously important part in our society.

“Surveys have shown that teenagers are more likely to consider a degree in engineering after learning about what engineers do,” continued Lipinski. “Although just 4 percent of the country’s work force is composed of engineers and scientists, they create the jobs for the other 96 percent. We owe it to our children and ourselves to get them interested in science, technology, engineering and math. That’s why calling attention to this fascinating field and career opportunities during National Engineers Week is so important.”

To view the full statement click here.

Representative Lipinski, along with a bipartisan group of 12 other Members, plan to introduce a resolution in support of National Engineers Week when Congress returns from its recess next week.

ASHRAE is a long-time supporter of EWeek, serving on the Foundation’s Engineers Week Committee, and as a past co-chair of the Week.

Grassroots Government Activities Report: From EWeek to Engineering Licensure

ASHRAE members across the U.S. are getting excited about and engaged in grassroots activities as the standing Grassroots Government Activities Committee (GGAC) prepares to come online in earnest after ASHRAE’s 2013 Annual Meeting in Denver. Here are a few examples:

Several ASHRAE members and chapters worked with policymakers in their communities to encourage the issuance of proclamations and resolutions in recognition of EWeek. The cities of Seattle, Tulsa, Lexington (Kentucky), and Houston, and the states of Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas – to name just a handful – issued these measures. 

>>The ASHRAE Utah Chapter is attempting to engage state legislators to ensure that state building and energy code cycles are not extended from three to six (or more) years. There are several negative ramifications of such policies being enacted. For example, a delay in code adoption cycles would likely bring about: 

Chapters and members in Arizona, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia are in the process of ascertaining how they can persuade state legislators and the executive branches within those states to include ASHRAE members in discussions about high-performance, energy-efficient K-12 school buildings – including the possible appointment of ASHRAE members to state advisory panels on the subject. 

In Vermont and West Virginia, threats to PE licensure vis-à-vis “master’s-or-equivalent (MOE)”/“bachelor’s-plus-30 (BS+30)” proposals are vigorously opposed by the Champlain Valley Chapter and Mountaineer Section, respectively. ASHRAE is working with the Licensing That Works Coalition, a consortium of engineering societies representing more than 300,000 engineers in the U.S., to ensure that such measures are not enacted in any state. 

These activities listed are just a few examples of what the GGAC apparatus – the Society standing committee, regional vice chairs, chapter and section GGAC chairs, and the individual ASHRAE member – can do in bringing about sound public policy that aligns with ASHRAE’s policy aims. It’s important to point out that these activities are not limited to the boundaries of the U.S., rather all 14 regions, 174 chapters and 53,000-plus ASHRAE members have the opportunity to get involved – and should get involved. ASHRAE is a global society and members are afforded the chance to provide technical expertise to government decision makers in their communities, thus expanding the reach of the Society’s mission “to advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.”

To learn more about involvement in GGAC activities, contact Mark Wills, manager of State and Local Government Affairs, at

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.