ASHRAE Government Affairs Update

GGAC Goes Live
As of July 1, the Grassroots Government Activities Committee (GGAC) will become official.

As has been reported in numerous past issues of Update, at the 2012 Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors approved the creation of a new Society-level committee to address government actions which happen at the state, local, provincial, and national (beyond North America) levels.

Under the new governance structure each ASHRAE Region has a Regional Vice Chair (RVC) dedicated to encouraging grassroots chapter and member engagement who will meet frequently to determine Society-wide courses of actions on the local government activities front. Chapters will be asked to appoint a grassroots chair to support cooperation with like-minded organizations and work with community policymakers to promote ASHRAE members’ technical expertise – as well as the use of ASHRAE standards – and to advance ASHRAE’s public policy aims.

This means an ASHRAE member with a public policy concern relative to ASHRAE’s government activities has a voice, which, when appropriate, can be conveyed by their chapter’s grassroots chair to the regional grassroots RVC, and, eventually, to the Society’s Board for consideration.

Furthermore, this new structure will facilitate the sharing of best practices between regions and chapters, empowering ASHRAE and its members with more unified messages and processes to effectively connect with lawmakers and regulators in their area.

If you are interested in being a GGAC leader in your chapter or section please contact Mark Wills, ASHRAE’s Manager of State and Local Government Affairs, at to initiate communication with the Regional Vice Chair for GGAC in your region, a list of whom are provided below.

Richard Vehlow (Region I) 
Doug Cochrane (Region II) 
Dunstan Macauley (Region III) 
Bryan Lampley (Region IV) 
Sonya Pouncy (Region V) 
Kelly Crow (Region VI) 
Chad Moore (Region VII) 
Jon Symko (Region VIII) 
Brian Lynch (Region IX) 
Mark Bender (Region X) 
Jeff Hurd (Region XI) 
Ricardo Esbri (Region XII) 
Yong Kong Ng (Region XIII) 
Ahmed Alaa Eldin Mohamed (Region-At-Large)  

North Carolina: Still of Concern, but a Temporary Reprieve
As has been reported in previous Updates, the North Carolina General Assembly continues to consider legislation (HB 201) to roll back building energy codes to previous, less efficient versions. Now, as a result of recent amendments, the bill only applies to the commercial code, so if enacted, the code would revert to the 2009 state code, resulting in a 30 percent reduction in commercial building energy efficiency. The current code includes a requirement for compliance either with ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010 or to be 20 percent more efficient than the 2007 version of Standard 90.1.

Earlier this week, after being placed on the Senate’s calendar, the measure was suddenly and unexpectedly referred to the Rules and Operations Committee, which delays any floor action on HB 201 for a week.

Consequently, we have a short reprieve to impact the outcome.

Building energy codes – including code-intended standards like Standard 90.1 – are adopted, with or without amendment, by local governments on a regular cycle. These cycles are usually based upon the publication of the new editions of codes and standards; in the case of Standard 90.1 (and most other codes and code-intended standards), those published updates occur every three years.

Beyond North Carolina, state lawmakers are examining code roll-backs and/or are pushing back those updates, arguing that codes and standards are considered too costly to implement or update on so frequent a basis.

These proposals are problematic for ASHRAE for several reasons:

--Codes and standards developed and revised on a regular, three-year, basis ensure that the latest advances in efficiency- and safety-related technologies and techniques are codified, and made available to technical professionals and code officials in a way to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. 
--As noted above, the public benefits from up-to-date codes and standards: families and building owners want safe and efficient homes and buildings; owners and tenants want to ensure customer and employee safety and keep their overheads low; and taxpayers bear the costs of legal actions and high building operations and maintenance costs when codes and standards are not updated regularly. 
Delaying code and standard update cycles puts a state far behind others. For example, if a state enacts a delay law this year, the 2012 standards and codes wouldn't be implemented until 2015, while other states would, presumably, have adopted 2012 and 2015 editions. This means that the construction industry and code inspectors would need to absorb six years of new information at one time. Also, consumers would have less access to technologies developed since the last update because the design community and code officials would have inadequate safety installation information. 

And, as noted above, for many ASHRAE members, these measures are injurious to their bottom lines as business people.

This is a dangerous trend that may spread to your communities, so please be on the lookout for such proposals. If one does arise, contact Mark Wills so connections with GGAC leadership can be made quickly and effectively.

Support for CBECS Highlighted in U.S. House Funding Bill
This week, a major victory for the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) was achieved when the House Appropriations Committee released language that strongly supports the Survey:

"The Committee recognizes that the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data are critical to the building industry. The 2003 CBECS remains the most current survey of commercial building efficiency. CBECS data are used in the development of ASHRAE building energy efficiency standards, the Energy Star program at U.S. EPA, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, and Green Globes."

The inclusion of this language speaks to the continued strong bipartisan support for CBECS. Over the years ASHRAE has co-led a group of technical societies and stakeholder organizations to build this support and increase awareness for this previously little-known survey.

Work on a new edition of CBECS is currently underway and, barring any unforeseen significant funding reductions, is expected to be released in 2014.

President Obama Issues New Climate Action Plan; Building Energy Efficiency Prominently Featured
Earlier this week U.S. President Barack Obama issued his Climate Action Plan. This comprehensive new document contains several strategies for mitigating and reversing the effects of climate change. Featured prominently in the President’s Plan is increasing building energy efficiency.

"Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," stated the President’s Plan, which goes on to say that "the Administration is setting a new goal: Efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings set in the first and second [Presidential] terms combined will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – equivalent to nearly one-half of the carbon pollution from the entire U.S. energy sector for one year – while continuing to cut families’ energy bills."

The Climate Action Plan also addresses curbing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other greenhouse gasses that are used for air conditioning and refrigeration. The Plan notes that HFC emissions are expected to nearly triple by 2030 in the United States. To help prevent this, the President will encourage the private sector to continue investing in low-emissions technologies.

The White House has created a visual of the Climate Action Plan. A link to the full Plan is located at the bottom of the Plan’s graphic. If you’re having trouble finding it, download the Plan directly.

Innovative Energy Efficiency Bills Spotlighted in U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearing
As reported in previous editions of the Update, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.761, a.k.a. Shaheen-Portman) has become the leading bipartisan energy efficiency bill in the U.S. Senate, and momentum continues to build for its passage. As part of this process, this week a subcommittee of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to increase awareness and support for several bills that could either be included as amendments to Shaheen-Portman or passed on their own as standalone legislation. ASHRAE strongly supports many of the bills highlighted at the hearing, and listed below:

S. 717, the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act 
S. 1084, the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act 
S. 1191, the Better Buildings Act 
S. 1199, the All-Of-The-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act 
S. 1200, the Residential Energy Savings Act 
S. 1205, the Local Energy Supply and Resiliency Act 
S. 1206, a bill to encourage benchmarking and disclosure of energy information for commercial buildings 
S.1209, the State Energy Race to the Top Initiative Act 
S. 1213, the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act 

The text of these bills, witness testimony, and an archived webcast can be found here.

Unless noted otherwise, for details on any of the news items listed above, contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE's Senior Manager of Federal 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.