Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill Includes Bennet's SAVE Act, Better Buildings Act

Measures Promote Energy-Efficiency in Homes, Commercial Buildings

A major, bipartisan energy bill introduced to the U.S. Senate today includes two bills authored by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet designed to promote energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014, introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), includes two bipartisan bills Bennet introduced last year – the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act and the Better Buildings Act.

“The SAVE Act and the Better Buildings Act are commonsense approaches to reducing our energy usage, cutting costs, and protecting our planet,” Bennet said. “There’s no reason mortgage lenders shouldn’t take into account the thousands of dollars homeowners spend annually on their energy bills when determining the size of a home loan.  Our simple fix will solve this problem and incentivize the construction of energy efficient homes, creating thousands of jobs along the way.”

“Tenants account for roughly half of the energy consumed in commercial buildings,” Bennet added. “The Better Buildings Act provides a way to incentivize and encourage energy efficient practices for tenants in order to reduce overall consumption.”

The SAVE Act, which Bennet introduced with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) last June, would help establish more practical mortgage lending processes by allowing federal mortgage loan agencies to consider a home’s energy efficiency and expected monthly energy bills when determining the homeowner’s ability to pay monthly mortgage payments. On average, homeowners spend about $2,500 a year on home energy costs, and that adds up to more than $70,000 over the life of a 30-year mortgage. But, while mortgage lenders typically take into account the cost of real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance when determining the cost of a home loan, they do not take into account home energy costs, even those these costs are, in many cases, more than taxes and insurance. The SAVE Act would address this blind spot, encouraging investments in energy efficient homebuilding and creating tens of thousands of construction jobs in the process.

“We need to make sure that the additional costs that builders invest in sustainable, high-performance construction and materials are accurately reflected in their appraisal,” said Skip Howes, president of Scott Homes in Colorado Springs. “It’s our obligation as builders to explain the benefits of green homes to our clients,  but they need to also so those benefits translated  into the home’s value on the market.”

The Better Buildings Act, cosponsored by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and also introduced last June, encourages tenants of commercial buildings to implement cost-effective measures that will help reduce energy consumption and ultimately utility costs for businesses. As building owners across the country strive to distinguish their buildings with the voluntary ENERGY STAR label to help attract tenants and satisfy investors, this bill creates a new voluntary “Tenant Star” certification to reward and recognize tenants that design and construct high-performance leased spaces.