Two Senators Promote Energy Efficiency with Bill Introduction

Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have reintroduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) or “Portman-Shaheen” bill. The bipartisan legislation aims to improve the nation’s residential, commercial, and industrial energy efficiency as well as the energy and water efficiency of federally owned and operated facilities.

The bill strengthens the limited role that the federal government plays in the development of model energy codes – a non-governmental, stakeholder-driven process. It does this by directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish cost-effective targets for energy-efficiency improvements in model energy codes.

The proposed legislation creates a grant program at the DOE to help home builders, contractors, architects, and code officials cost-effectively adopt and implement updated building energy codes. This program will enhance the traditional role of providing technical assistance to states and communities on building energy code adoption.

The Portman-Shaheen bill also creates at the DOE a career skills program to provide grants to nonprofit partnerships for worker training in the construction and installation of energy-efficient building technologies and authorizes $10 million in funding for the program. Additionally, the bill includes provisions of the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act (“SAVE Act”) which would improve federal mortgage underwriting by including a home’s expected energy cost savings when determining the value and affordability of energy-efficient homes.

“Building energy codes make sense on so many levels. They cost-effectively reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; save homeowners money on their utility bills; improve occupant comfort; and ensure a more resilient building in the face of severe weather,” says Curt Rich, President and CEO of the North American InsulationManufacturers Association. “The sweet spot of the Portman-Shaheen legislation is that it promotes an energy code that is cost effective and provides resources for builders to then deliver those code improvements to the market in the form of better, more energy-efficient homes, stores, offices, and factories.”


Photo by Gage Skidmore