Senate Adopts Bipartisan Amendment that Includes Better Buildings Act

Aims to Promote Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet's bipartisan bill to promote the use of energy efficient technologies by commercial building tenants was approved as part of an amendment the Senate adopted today. Bennet originally introduced the bill with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in 2013. The bill was included in an amendment Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced that included several provisions on energy-efficiency.

"With the demands on our energy grid increasing, we can implement new strategies to achieve better energy efficiency," Bennet said. "The Better Buildings Act encourages commercial building tenants to build upon the energy-efficient designs of their buildings to reduce their energy usage and costs. It's a commonsense approach to reducing our energy consumption, cutting costs, and protecting our planet."

The Better Buildings Act 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.

To date, the focus has been on how real estate owners and developers may lower energy consumption at the "whole-building" level. However, office tenants like data centers, law firms, banks, trading floors, restaurants, and retail stores use a lot of energy - especially in areas experiencing large growth and development. The Better Buildings Act takes a holistic approach by considering office tenants' impact on energy consumption and behaviors.

In addition to the "Tenant Star" designation, the bill asks the Department of Energy to study and learn from private sector "best practices" of how commercially-leased spaces are designed to achieve high performance and help reduce utility costs for businesses.

Dozens of organizations from the real estate sector, construction industry and environmental advocacy, among others have endorsed the bill, including the Real Estate Roundtable, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Real Estate Roundtable, and the U.S. Green Building Council.

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