Congress Passes Continuing Resolution, Funding the Government through Early December

Before returning home to their constituents, Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a Continuing Resolution (H.R.5325), which provides funding for Federal government programs through December 9, 2016 at approximately the same levels as Fiscal Year 2016, which ended September 30. Full-year funding was also provided through this bill for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

Members of Congress will need to decide how they want to proceed on funding the government through the remainder of FY 2017 when they return for their post-election lame duck session during the week of October 14. A likely scenario is the combination of the remaining 11 appropriations bills into a single omnibus funding measure, rather than a year-long Continuing Resolution.

DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program: 40 Years of Excellence

For the past 40 years, the Weatherization Assistance Program has led the nation in advancing technology, research, and applied scientific practices to make homes more energy efficient, cost effective, and safe for low-income Americans. On September 7, Congressional leaders joined the national weatherization network to commemorate 40 years of excellence in service by this program. US Department of Energy (DOE) officials, nonprofit leaders, and members of Congress attended the event, held on Capitol Hill. Representing DOE were David Friedman, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Dr. Franklin Orr, Undersecretary for Science and Energy; and AnnaMaria Garcia, Director of the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office.

Click here to read more about the event and some of the greatest accomplishments of the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Congress Returns This Week for a Blistering Session Before the Elections

Members of Congress and their staff are putting on their running shoes for one last 17 day sprint before the November 8 elections during which control of the House, Senate, and Presidency will be determined. Here is a run-down of some high-priority items on the Congressional agenda:

  • Appropriations:The 2017 Federal Fiscal Year begins October 1, however there is the distinct possibility of a partial government shutdown if Congress doesn’t enact a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government at current levels until shortly after the November elections. Top level Democrats and Republicans in both Chambers are currently engaged in a tug of war over whether to pass a short-term CR, an omnibus funding bill that lasts until after the new President submits their budget request to Congress, or some hybrid thereof. Parallel to this is a raging fight over a bill that would provide funding to combat the Zika crisis, but would also defund Planned Parenthood, among other things. While that bill is expected to fail, the politics could spill over into the larger government funding debate.
  • National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): For over 50 consecutive years Congress has enacted the NDAA, which helps direct funding for the US military and Department of Defense activities. No policymaker wants to be held responsible if this record is broken, and as such, it is seen as one of the few must-pass bills each year in Congress.
  • Energy Bill: There is a strong push by a broad group of stakeholders and Members of Congress from both Parties to complete work on the Energy Bill (S.2012), as it contains a diverse set of improvements that appeal to efficiency advocates, those in favor of liquefied national gas (LNG) export approval reforms, and many others. However, there are many controversial issues that remain undecided – not the least of which are the building energy codes provisions in the House-passed version of this bill. 

High Performance Building Week Begins!

High Performance Building Week:

Challenges and Solutions for Improving Resiliency, Workforce Development, Energy and Water Efficiency

June 13 – 17, 2016

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – High performance buildings play a central role in solving some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. Members of the High Performance Building Coalition work with Members of Congress during High Performance Building Week to expand awareness of the importance of high performance buildings.

RSVP for Events at

“As the Co-chair of the High Performance Building Congressional Caucus, I’m pleased to once again take part in High Performance Building Week," said US Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large). "As in years past, this week is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the major impact buildings have on public health, safety, and the environment and to discuss the challenges and opportunities we face in improving building performance. I thank my Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. McKinley, for his work on these issues and look forward to learning more over the course of the week.”

Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-1) said: “As one of only three licensed engineers in Congress, I understand the importance of advancing innovative building technologies and energy efficiency to help produce an ‘internet of things,’ smart buildings, and power grids. High Performance Building Week is a unique opportunity to bring building professionals together to address these challenges, share ideas, and offer solutions.”

“With the tremendous work of the High-Performance Buidling Coaltion (HPBC), this year’s High Performance Building Week will be the best yet,” Dain Hansen, Chair of the Coalition and Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs at the IAPMO Group said. “The events highlighted this week will provide a great opportunity to learn of the many initiatives being supported by the industry. The Coalition has already achieved great success on many of our policy priorities, and we look forward to our continued work with the High-Performance Building Caucus, led by the co-chairs Reps. David McKinley (R-WV-1) and Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large) to help each facet of the building industry through sound policy.”

Monday, June 13, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. | 122 Cannon House Office Building

Congressional Luncheon Briefing—Federal Engagement in Efficiency Standards

Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative (EESCC) published a strategic roadmap detailing the standards and conformity assessment programs needed to enable a more energy- and water-efficient built environment. Developed by over 160 public- and private-sector experts from more than 50 member organizations and 4 federal agencies, the roadmap established a national framework to which US industry, government, standards developing organizations, and others can look to enable greater energy and water efficiency capabilities for the nation’s buildings.


Tuesday, June 14, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. | B369 Rayburn House Office Building

Congressional Luncheon Briefing— OMB A-119 – The US Government’s Standards Policy – A Prime Example of Congress and the Executive Branch Working Together

Since 1982, the Federal government has followed an OMB policy of encouraging Federal agencies to use voluntary consensus standards developed in the private sector, in place of government unique standards and specifications. In 1996, Congress enacted legislation to make sure the policy continued and the benefits would not be lost with changes in the Executive branch. These two complimentary actions, and the updates to the original OMB A-119 circular, have created a system of governmental use of standards developed in the private sector that saves taxpayers money, improves program results and regulatory compliance, and supports international trade and competitiveness. Our panel will describe the current system, and the benefits it delivers for taxpayers, the US economy and Federal programs.


Tuesday, June 14, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. | United States Capitol Visitor Center (HVC-200)

Congressional Reception

Welcoming remarks by High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives David McKinley (R-WV-1) and Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large) (invited)

RSVP Required:

(Please RSVP by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 13th)


Wednesday, June 15, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. | 2103 Rayburn House Office Building

Congressional Luncheon Briefing— Meeting State and Local Demand for High Performance Green Residential and Commercial Buildings

Around the country States and cities are calling for high performance green residential and commercial buildings. But what exactly are high performance buildings, why is there a demand, what tools are available to meet this demand, what challenges exist, and how can Congress help? Join us for a fast-paced series of presentations from experts on cutting-edge trends in the building industry.


Thursday, June 16, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. | 2253 Rayburn House Office Building

Congressional Luncheon Briefing— Achieving a High-Performance Built Environment: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council

The US building industry is a dynamic and evolving industry and the challenges it faces have significant implications for the nation’s economy and citizens. Each year, the National Institute of Building Sciences, through its Consultative Council, brings together key stakeholders from across the industry to examine the challenges and opportunities before both the industry and the nation. This briefing will provide insight from the Council’s 2015 report and focus on assuring a strong building industry workforce, advancing community resilience and assuring policies and regulations support the cost effective achievement of a high-performance built environment. 

RSVP for Events at

 The High Performance Building Coalition is a coalition of approximately 200 organizations that provides guidance and support to the High Performance Building Caucus of the US Congress. The Coalition supports legislation and policies that protect life and property, promote innovative building technologies, enhance US economic competitiveness, increase energy and water efficiency in the built-environment, advance sustainable and resilient communities, and support the development of private sector standards, codes and guidelines that address these concerns. More information can be found at


# # #

HPBC Hits Capitol Hill for Hill Day and Briefing

Members of the High Performance Building Coalition (HPBC) traveled to Capitol Hill on April 21st for a day of meetings with High Performance Building Caucus member offices and a lunch briefing on the importance of funding key federal programs related to high performance buildings.

A dozen HPBC members broke up into groups to meet with 17 High Performance Building Caucus member offices throughout the day to speak about the important work that the HPBC is doing, as well as to discuss our policy and appropriations priorities. In particular, as the House and Senate begin conference discussions to harmonize various provisions of the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) and the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R. 8), the HPBC asked that our policy priorities that were originally included in one or both pieces of legislation be included in the final conference version, including:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program, a voluntary program to help consumers identify water-efficient products and services;
  • The Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability Act (NEWS Act), which would better coordinate federal energy and water programs; and
  • The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act (SAVE Act), which would improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting by including the value of energy efficiency in a home.

During the lunch briefing, attendees hear from Kevin Kampschroer, Director of the Office of High Performance Green Buildings at the U.S. General Services Administration, on the many programs that GSA is implementing to improve the performance of federal buildings across the country. Next, John Pouland, Vice President of Government Affairs and Solutions at Philips Lighting, spoke about the importance of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and in particular the Solid State Lighting research and development work that it supports. Finally, the audience heard from Christopher Lindsay, Manager of Government Relations at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), about important water and energy programs within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (WIFIA) funding, and the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool for benchmarking the energy performance of buildings.

The High Performance Building Coalition will continue to remain active on Capitol Hill to promote its policy and appropriations priorities throughout the remainder of the 114th Congress and into the 115th Congress. Please visit our website regularly for policy updates, as well as information about High Performance Building Week, June 13–17, 2016.

Senate Passes Comprehensive Energy Bill, Opening the Door for Possible New Law this Year

As a reminder that virtually anything can occur in Washington, DC at any time, on April 20 the US Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85 to 12. Senators voting against the bill included: John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Cotton (R-AR), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), David Perdue (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).

The Energy Policy Modernization Act is a comprehensive bill that includes many provisions, such as:

  • Support for building energy codes
  • The SAVE Act
  • Allowing Federal disaster relief funds to be used for energy efficient structures and products (references Standard 90.1-2013)
  • Formally establishing the WaterSense program
  • Increases interagency coordination of activities related to the energy-water nexus
  • Support for data center energy efficiency
  • Reauthorization of the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program
  • Workforce development, including the establishment of building training and assessment centers

The next challenge is for the Senate bill to be combined with the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R.8), which passed the House last December, and contains a number of controversial provisions. The final combined bill would then be voted on once more by the House and Senate before going to President Barack Obama for his signature or veto.

The long path left have some nervous that not enough time remains this year to get everything done, which would force the entire process to start over, with the added complication of a new President and Members of Congress, and the possibility that both bills could be completely derailed.

US House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Improve Data Center Energy Efficiency

Despite all the political wrangling, energy efficiency is a winning, bipartisan topic of great appeal in Congress. This was on display last Monday when the US House of Representatives voted to unanimously pass the bipartisan Energy Efficient Government Technology Act (H.R.1268). This bill would, among other things, help increase federal data center energy efficiency.

“Today, the world generates more data in twelve hours than was generated in all of human history prior to 2003,” said the bill’s leading Democratic sponsor, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-18). “This data must be stored and processed at data centers which are the backbone of the 21st century economy but can be highly energy inefficient. My legislation saves the federal government energy and taxpayer dollars by requiring the use of energy efficient and energy saving technologies, specifically in federal data centers. I’m pleased to see this important policy once again pass the House, and I look forward to its swift consideration in the Senate.”

To view floor debate of the bill’s passage, please click here.

The text of the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act has wide support in Congress, as it is included in the larger House and Senate energy bills, H.R.8 and S.2012.

President Obama Submits Budget Request to Congress

It’s hard to believe, but it was only last week when President Barack Obama sent his final budget request to Congress. 

As expected for a Democratic President in his last year in office, the Republican-controlled Congress will largely ignore President Obama’s budget request, however it will be used by both Parties to fuel discussions about their competing visions regarding how the federal government can best serve the American people.

Congress will be out for much of the year because of the upcoming elections, so expect a compressed timeline for appropriations and a flurry of activity over the next 12 weeks.
To view more information on President Obama's FY 2017 budget request to Congress, please click here.


No Progress Yet on Senate Energy Bill

While there was hope that an agreement could be reached on funding for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan that would allow debate on the Senate Energy Policy Modernization Act, this has not yet occurred. Although negotiations are ongoing, talks have slowed a bit, as both the House and Senate are not in session this week, and Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was focused on a field hearing on February 15th that examined “Energy Technology Innovation and Deployment – Opportunities for Alaska’s Energy Future”.

With the energy bill effectively stalled for the moment, Congress is turning its attention to other matters, such as the annual funding bills for federal programs. Appropriations season is ceremonially kicked-off each year with the submission of the President’s budget request to Congress.


Now Available! Revised OMB Circular A-119 “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities”

It’s been quite a while, but the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released an update to its Circular A-119, which provides guidance to Federal agencies, and encourages them to promote participation in and rely on standards developed by the private sector. The previous update to the Circular was issued 18 years ago in 1998. The revised OMB Circular A-119 can be found by clicking here.

Senate Energy Bill On Hold Pending Solution for Flint Water Crisis Funding

US Senate consideration of the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) has, at least temporarily, ground to a halt as a result of disputes over emergency funding levels in response to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairwoman of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, proposed an amendment that would have provided $550 million to Flint, however a group of Democrats united in opposition, seeking another solution. Negotiations are ongoing, and while Senators are expressing hope, it is clear that much work remains and time is short, as Senators are becoming anxious to move on to other matters that demand their attention.

To date, over 300 amendments have been proposed, and votes have been held on 38. 

President Obama Prepares to Give His Final State of the Union Address Next, Setting the Stage for His Last Days in Office

US President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 12, where he will look back on his time in the Oval Office and present what he’ll seek to accomplish before his term ends. Given the proximity of the Paris climate agreement at COP21 and the importance of his Clean Power Plan, it would be no surprise if President Obama discussed climate change and the need for environmental stewardship. The question is, since the buildings sector figures prominently in many of the President’s energy and climate plans, will he mention high performance buildings?

Curiously Uncertain Future for Senate Comprehensive Energy Bill

The Energy Policy Modernization Act (EPMA) of 2015 (S.2012) is the comprehensive bipartisan bill that is supported by most members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee – including the Committee’s top Republican and Democrat. Additionally, because the many parts of EMPA have been working their way through Congress for the past several years, the attitudes of Members of Congress towards the bill are generally well-known. Despite all of this, the bills’ fate remains unclear – for the moment.

According to Senate staff, given the anticipated congressional calendar and likely need to address other unforeseen events, the best time for EPMA to be debated and possibly passed is between January and early February. This is a unique window in which Members of Congress are in Washington, DC for an extended period of time with nothing definitely scheduled yet for the Senate floor. The schedule will solidify over the next two weeks.

If EPMA is debated on the Senate floor, it will likely occur under an open amendment process, which could either allow Members of Congress to voice their concerns and add favored provisions to it or grind consideration of the bill to a halt. While surprises do occur, if EPMA is derailed in January-February, it’s unlikely to be taken up again until 2017.


Congressional Democrats, Republicans to Plan Strategy at January Retreats

House and Senate Republicans will gather in Baltimore, Maryland this week for a retreat where they will piece together the major portions of their 2016 legislative agenda. Issues that are expected to be in the spotlight include: federal spending, tax reform, healthcare, climate change, gun control, and energy policy.

Democrats will hold their own retreat from January 27 to 29, where they will discuss their own legislative priorities.

The 2016 legislative calendar is expected be front-loaded and packed with a dense amount of activity – although perhaps little legislation being enacted into law given the politics of the moment and upcoming elections. Energy legislation, budget, appropriations, FAA reauthorization, and the National Defense Authorization Act are among the issues that are, at this point, expected to dominate House and Senate floor time.