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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 1, 2015.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the Senate passed version is repeated here.)
Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015
TITLE I--BETTER BUILDINGS
Better Buildings Act of 2015
(Sec. 102) This bill requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to: (1) develop and publish model leasing provisions to encourage building owners and tenants to use greater cost-effective energy efficiency and water efficiency measures in commercial buildings, (2) develop policies and practices to implement the measures for the realty services provided by the GSA to agencies, and (3) make available the model provisions and best practices to state and local governments for use in managing owned and leased building spaces.
The GSA may use the model leasing provisions in any standard leasing document that designates a federal agency as a landlord or tenant.
(Sec. 103) The bill amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to require the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to study the feasibility of: (1) significantly improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings through the design and construction of spaces within the buildings with high-performance energy efficiency measures; and (2) encouraging owners and tenants to implement those measures. A high-performance energy efficiency measure is a technology, product, or practice that will result in substantial operational cost savings by reducing energy consumption and utility costs.
(Sec. 104) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must develop a voluntary Tenant Star program within the Energy Star program to recognize tenants in commercial buildings that voluntarily achieve high levels of energy efficiency. The EPA may develop a voluntary program to recognize commercial building owners and tenants that use high-performance energy efficiency measures in the design and construction of leased spaces.
DOE's Energy Information Administration must collect in each of its Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Surveys data on: (1) categories of building occupancy that are known to consume significant quantities of energy; and (2) other aspects of the property, building operation, or building occupancy relevant to lowering energy consumption.
TITLE II--GRID-ENABLED WATER HEATERS
(Sec. 201) The bill amends the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to provide energy conservation standards for grid-enabled water heaters for use as part of an electric thermal storage or demand response program, which is a program that enables customers to reduce or shift their power use during peak demand periods. Labeling and reporting requirements concerning the heaters are also established.
The manufacturer or private labeler of these heaters must provide the activation keys for the heaters only to a utility or other program operator that uses those heaters.
DOE must publish an analysis that assesses the extent to which the heaters are put into use in the program. If sales of the heaters exceed by at least 15% the quantity of the heaters activated for use in the program, DOE must establish procedures to prevent the diversion of heaters for non-program purposes.
The requirements for grid-enabled water heaters must remain in effect until DOE determines: (1) grid-enabled water heaters do not require a separate efficiency requirement; or (2) sales of grid-enabled water heaters exceed by at least 15% the quantity of the heaters activated for use in demand response and thermal storage programs annually and procedures to prevent product diversion for non-program purposes would not be adequate to prevent the product diversion.
It shall be unlawful for any person to: (1) enable a grid-enabled water heater to operate at its designed specification and capabilities with knowledge that it is not used as part of an electric thermal storage or demand response program, or (2) knowingly remove or render illegible the label of a grid-enabled water heater. TITLE III--ENERGY INFORMATION FOR COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS
(Sec. 301) A federal agency leasing space in a building without an Energy Star label must include in its lease provisions requirements that the space's energy efficiency be measured against a nationally-recognized benchmark. The agency must also meet certain energy consumption information disclosure requirements.
DOE must study and report on the impact of: (1) state and local performance benchmarking and disclosure policies, and any associated building efficiency policies, for commercial and multifamily buildings; and (2) programs and systems in which utilities provide aggregated information regarding whole building energy consumption and usage information to owners of multitenant buildings. The study must identify best practice policy approaches that have resulted in the greatest improvements in building energy efficiency.
DOE must maintain a database for storing and making available public energy-related information on commercial and multifamily buildings.
DOE must report on the progress made in complying with these information requirements within two years and biennially thereafter.