And in an effort that is following the lead of the Great State of California, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced legislation that would greatly increase federal influence over state and local building codes concerning energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings. The bill, “S. 1000: The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011,” would establish aggressive annual efficiency goals and targets (overseen by the federal Department of Energy) on the path to so-called “zero-net-energy” for all new construction. At this point, we don’t know exactly how the state and federal mandates would work with one another.
Although every building owner and tenant wants to be energy efficient, there is tremendous diversity in the commercial, industrial, and retail real estate sector in terms of business models, customer base, and goods and services provided. Not to mention the myriad of climate zones and variant levels of sunshine. To assume that all tenants and all landlords should – or even could – achieve zero-net-energy requires a leap of faith that some technological breakthrough will happen in the near future. If this becomes mandated as part of each state’s building code, property owners and tenants will find it extremely difficult to meet such standards without incurring excessive costs or making difficult compromises on a wide range of designs and services (lots of flat, one-story buildings; forget about high density!) – not to mention the need to generate on-site electricity.
We call on Congress to work closely with the commercial real estate industry to learn more about the realities of managing such properties and setting more realistic goals and providing incentives to move this issue forward.
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