Senate Panel Considers Bennet-Ayotte Better Buildings Act

Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Improve Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today highlighted the environmental and economic benefits of the Better Buildings Act (S. 1191), legislation they authored that was considered at today’s Senate Subcommittee on Energy hearing.

The bipartisan bill seeks to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by encouraging tenants to voluntarily implement cost-effective measures to reduce energy consumption and utility costs. The Better Building Act creates a new voluntary “Tenant Star” certification, similar to the ENERGY STAR certification for building owners, which recognizes tenants that operate energy efficient leased spaces. It’s estimated that tenants use 50 percent or more of the energy in all office buildings.

In his testimony today, Bennet said, “Over the last several years, we’ve worked with building owners across Colorado and the country to craft this significant bill… We sought to think about efficiency in buildings not only from the ‘top down’ – where a building owner makes the improvements, but also from the ‘bottom up’ where a tenant would see advantages from designing and configuring their rented space in an energy efficient manner.”

“I’m pleased that the subcommittee is considering our legislation – a common sense, no-cost proposal that would promote greater energy efficiency in commercial buildings,” said Ayotte. “I’m hopeful that this measure will be included in comprehensive bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that is expected to be considered by the Senate during the coming weeks.”

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 arena, among others have endorsed the bill, including 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.