Reducing Energy Bills for American Families and Businesses
(Climate Action Plan, pp. 9–10.)
By 2030: Double energy productivity relative to 2010 levels.
See below for more specific goals and their implementation.
• Establishing a New Goal for Energy Efficiency Standards
The Department of Energy (DOE) is to establish minimum-efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings that, combined with standards set in first term, will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
The Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), an independent nonprofit initiative, maintains excellent tracking resources to monitor progress toward achieving this goal. The “CO2 Tracker” monitors CO2 emissions avoided as a result of new efficiency standards for appliances, equipment, and lighting, while the “$$ Tracker” monitors the savings to businesses and consumers from the new standards. (See Andrew deLaski, New Tracker Shows How Appliance Standards Are Driving Down Pollution, ASAP (Feb. 18, 2014).) The trackers are available on the ASAP website.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) creates and then periodically updates energy efficiency standards for a host of consumer, commercial, and industrial goods. It shepherds these standards through a four-phase federal rulemaking process. EERE releases semiannual reports to Congress on its appliance energy efficiency rulemakings. The most recent report was released in February 2014.
External Power Supplies
February 10, 2014: EERE published a final rule for new energy efficiency standards for external power supplies, such as those that convert household electric current into direct current or lower-voltage alternating current to operate a consumer product such as a laptop computer or smart phone. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for External Power Supplies, 79 Fed. Reg. 7,846 (Feb. 10, 2014).) EERE projects that the energy savings from the new standards will yield cumulative emission reductions of approximately 47.0 Mt of CO2 over a 30-year period. Cumulative reductions of CO2 through 2030 will come to around 23.6 Mt. (Id. at 7,850.) The deadline for compliance with the new standards is February 10, 2016. (Id. at 7,846.)
Metal Halide Lamp Fixtures
February 10, 2014: EERE published a final rule setting new energy efficiency standards for metal halide lamp fixtures, a type of lighting often used for parking lots and streets, flood lighting, athletic facilities, big-box stores, and warehouses. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Metal Halide Lamp Fixtures, 79 Fed. Reg. 7,746 (Feb. 10, 2014).) EERE projects that the new standards will yield emissions reductions over 30 years of 22.5–27.8 Mt of CO2, 105.9–132.4 thousand short tons of methane, and 0.5–0.6 thousand short tons of nitrous oxide. Through 2030, the estimated energy savings would result in cumulative emissions reductions of 6.3–6.8 Mt of CO2. (Id. at 7,749.) Full compliance with the new standards is required by February 10, 2017. (Id. at 7,746.)
Commercial Clothes Washers
March 4, 2014: EERE issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for energy conservation standards for commercial clothes washers. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Commercial Clothes Washers, 79 Fed. Reg. 12,302 (Mar. 4, 2014).) The notice states that the proposed standards and the resulting energy savings would yield cumulative emissions reductions over a 30-year period of 5.9 Mt of CO2 and 50.1 thousand short tons of methane. (Id. at 12,304.) The public comment period on the proposed standards has ended.
Automatic Commercial Ice Makers
March 17, 2014: EERE published a notice of proposed rulemaking for energy conservation standards for automatic commercial ice makers, such as those used in hotels, hospitals, schools, office buildings, supermarkets, and other facilities where foods and beverages are served or sold. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Automatic Commercial Ice Makers, 79 Fed. Reg. 14,846 (Mar. 17, 2014).) The notice states that energy savings from the proposed standards would result in cumulative emission reductions over 30 years of 14.6 Mt of CO2, 75.8 thousand short tons of methane, and 0.3 thousand short tons of nitrous oxide. The estimated emissions reductions through 2030 are 5.8 Mt of CO2, 576 thousand short tons CO2eq for methane, and 25 thousand short tons CO2eq for nitrous oxide. (Id. at 14,850 & n.10.) The public comment period on the proposed standards has ended.
Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
March 28, 2014: EERE published a final rule setting more stringent energy efficiency standards for some classes of commercial refrigeration equipment, such as restaurant-size fridges or the deli case at a convenience store. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Commercial Refrigeration Equipment, 79 Fed. Reg. 17,726 (Mar. 28, 2014).) Over a 30-year period, energy savings from the new standards are projected to result in cumulative emission reductions of approximately 142 Mt of CO2 and 762 thousand short tons of methane. Through 2030, the energy savings will result in estimated cumulative emissions reductions of 48 Mt of CO2. (Id. at 17,728–29.) Full compliance with the new standards is required by March 27, 2017. (Id. at 17,726.)
Commercial and Industrial Motors
May 29, 2014: EERE published a final rule for new energy efficiency standards for commercial and industrial electric motors. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Commercial and Industrial Electric Motors, 79 Fed. Reg. 30,934 (May 29, 2014).) EERE projects that the energy savings from the new standards will yield cumulative emission reductions of approximately 395 Mt of CO2 and 1,883 thousand short tons of methane over a 30-year period. Cumulative reductions of CO2 through 2030 will total some 96 Mt. (Id. at 30,938.) The deadline for compliance with the new standards is June 1, 2016. (Id. at 30,934.)
Walk-In Coolers and Freezers
June 3, 2014: EERE published a final rule that sets new energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Walk-In Coolers and Freezers, 79 Fed. Reg. 32,050 (June 3, 2014).) EERE expects that the energy savings over a 30-year period from the new standards will result in cumulative emission reductions of approximately 159.2 Mt of CO2, 833 thousand short tons of methane, and 3.5 thousand short tons of nitrous oxide. Through 2030, the cumulative emissions reductions of CO2 amount to 61.6 Mt. (Id. at 32,053.) The new standards go into effect on August 4, 2014; full compliance is required by June 5, 2017. (Id. at 32,050.)
Residential Furnace Fans
July 3, 2014: EERE published a final rule that sets new energy efficiency standards for residential furnace fans. (DOE, Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products: Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Furnace Fans, 79 Fed. Reg. 38,130 (July 3, 2014).) According to EERE, the new rule will net significant energy savings, yielding cumulative emission reductions over a 30-year period of some 180.6 Mt of CO2, 695 thousand short tons of methane, and 6.2 thousand short tons of nitrous oxide. The cumulative reduction in CO2 emissions through 2030 should amount to 34 million Mt. (Id. at 38,132.) The new standards go into effect on September 2, 2014, with full compliance required by July 3, 2019. (Id. at 38,130.)
May 9, 2014: The White House announced a new goal of making an additional $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings over the next three years, beyond the $2 billion committed in 2011. The entire cost of these investments is expected to be recouped from long-term energy savings. (See Fact Sheet, White House, President Obama Announces Commitments and Executive Actions to Advance Solar Deployment and Energy Efficiency (May 9, 2014).)
• Reducing Barriers to Investment in Energy Efficiency
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. As soon as fall of 2013: The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service is to finalize a proposed update to its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program to provide up to $250 million for rural utilities to finance efficiency investments by businesses and homeowners across rural America.
- Rural Energy for America Program. USDA to streamline its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to provide grants and loan guarantees directly to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.
- Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) $23 million Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund is to enable affordable housing providers, technology firms, academic institutions, and philanthropic organizations to test new approaches to deliver cost-effective residential energy.
- Mortgage Roundtable. In July 2013: The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is to convene representatives of the lending community and other key stakeholders for a mortgage roundtable to identify options for factoring energy efficiency into the mortgage underwriting and appraisal process upon sale or refinancing of new or existing homes.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
January 30, 2014: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (usually called Freddie Mac) announced that they had signed an agreement aimed at making multifamily housing properties more energy efficient and affordable while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Under the agreement, Freddie Mac will explore collecting energy and water performance data from property owners as part of the loan-underwriting and asset-management processes. The hope is that demonstrating the financial value of energy and water efficiency to lenders and borrowers alike will encourage investments in energy efficiency and make multifamily housing more affordable. The agreement calls for EPA to assist Freddie Mac by providing technical and educational support in the use of its Energy Star resources, including the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, an energy management and tracking tool. According to the press release in which the new agreement was announced, efficiency gains of 30% can be achieved in the multifamily housing sector by 2020, yielding $9 billion in energy savings and preventing more than 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. (See Press Release, Freddie Mac, EPA and Freddie Mac to Cut Carbon Pollution and Increase Affordability of Multifamily Buildings (Jan. 30, 2014).)
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program
December 4, 2013: USDA announced plans to provide rural electric cooperatives and utilities up to $250 million through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. The cooperatives and utilities will lend the funds to business and residential customers to support energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. The program aims to reduce capital and financing barriers to investment in efficiency measures. Fundable projects include energy audits, retrofitting, upgrades, and conversions to more efficient or renewable energy sources. (Press Release, USDA, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Energy Efficiency Loan Program to Lower Costs for Consumers, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Dec. 4, 2013).)
March 4, 2014: President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, which provides support for $5 billion in USDA lending to rural electric cooperatives and utilities for making the transition to clean energy and increased energy efficiency. (See Opportunity for All: Building a Clean Energy Economy, Improving Energy Security, and Taking Action on Climate Change 3.)
Rural Energy for America Program
November 8, 2013: USDA announced more than $14 million in grants and loan guarantees for 424 projects to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs and increase their use of renewables. Funded projects in 22 states, the Western Pacific, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico include installation of more energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration, and heating, ventilation, and cooling systems; and installation of geothermal heating and cooling and photovoltaics. A list of specific funded projects is available on the USDA’s website. (News Release, USDA, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Projects to Improve Farm and Rural Business Energy Efficiency (Nov. 8, 2013).)
May 2014: USDA announced the availability of up to $70 million in grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and efficiency projects under the Rural Energy for America Program. (White House, President Obama’s Climate Action Plan—Progress Report, p. 3 (June 2014).)
June 25, 2014: The White House announced that USDA would invest $880 million in renewable energy production, advanced biofuel production, and energy conservation for rural small businesses and farms, and in research and development of clean fuels. The spending is part of the 2014 Farm Bill. (White House, President Obama’s Climate Action Plan—Progress Report, p. 3 (June 2014).)
Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund
The Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund made $25 million in grants available for energy-efficiency upgrades of multifamily properties, with the overall objective of helping to catalyze a home energy retrofit market. Grant applications were due in October 2011. General information is available on the Fund’s page on HUD website and from a downloadable list of questions and answers.
July 18, 2013: FHA and the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) held a Green Mortgage Roundtable with nearly 50 lenders, advocates, and federal officials. Topics of discussion included increasing “green mortgage data,” updating HUD Handbooks, and modifying loan limits in order to incorporate energy-efficiency considerations into the mortgage underwriting and appraisal process. FHA has worked with lenders to pilot Energy Efficient Mortgages that provide more generous debt ratios and allow for increased valuation of properties with energy efficiency features. (News You Can Use, Reg. III HUDLine News (HUD), July/Aug. 2013, p. 2.) The HUD website has information about Energy Efficient FHA Loans.
May 8, 2014: Fannie Mae, with support from FHA, announced the expansion of Green Preservation Plus, a program that helps preserve quality affordable multifamily housing by providing additional funds to improve energy and water efficiency of properties. (See News Release, Fannie Mae, HUD and Fannie Mae Announce Expansion of Green Preservation Plus (May 8, 2014).)
• Expanding the President’s Better Buildings Challenge
- Better Buildings Challenge. The Administration is to expand the Better Buildings Challenge program to cover multifamily housing, to advance the goals of making buildings at least 20% more efficient and cutting energy use by an average of 2.5% annually by 2020.
- Better Buildings Accelerators. The Administration is to launch Better Buildings Accelerators to support and encourage adoption of state and local policies to cut energy waste.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
Better Buildings Challenge
The Better Buildings Challenge website has an Overview and answers to Frequently Asked Questions available for download.
December 3, 2013: DOE and HUD announced the expansion of the Better Buildings Challenge to multifamily housing, such as apartments and condominiums. (News Release, DOE, Obama Administration Expands Better Buildings Challenge to Multifamily Housing, Launches New Programs to Boost U.S. Energy Efficiency, Dec. 3, 2013.) Participants in the extended program are to include owners and managers of market-rate (unsubsidized) multifamily housing, Public Housing Authorities, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, and HUD-assisted multifamily properties. (Expanding to Include the Multifamily Residential Sector, Energy.gov (last visited Jan. 24, 2014).) The Multifamily Residential Partnership Agreement form is now available for download from the DOE website. In a January 2014 progress report, the White House said that 50 new partners, representing 200,000 units and over 190 million square feet, had committed to cutting their energy use by 20% over ten years. (See January 2014 Progress Report: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan 2.) The progress report also noted that over 120 organizations, accounting for 2 billion square feet, are on track to meeting the original program’s goal for 2020. (See id.)
December 2013: The nongovernmental American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published a report highlighting the challenges of bringing energy efficiency improvements to multifamily residences and offering recommendations for designing and implementing effective multifamily programs. The report, “Apartment Hunters: Programs Searching for Energy Savings in Multifamily Buildings,” will purportedly be the “centerpiece” of a White House–sponsored discussion to be held in conjunction with the expansion of the Better Buildings Challenge to multifamily housing. (See Press Release, ACEEE, New ACEEE Report Provides Roadmap for Utilities to Reach Underserved Multifamily Customers (Dec. 2, 2013).)
May 7–9, 2014: DOE will host the 2014 Better Buildings Summit for Better Buildings partners and stakeholders. The Summit promises “dialogue focused on sharing demonstrated market and technology solutions and proven approaches with an equal emphasis on discussing future opportunities for greater energy efficiency in America’s homes and buildings.” The program for the three-day Summit, registration information, and other details are available on the 2014 Better Buildings Summit website.
Better Buildings Accelerators
December 3, 2013: DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative launched three “Accelerators,” partnerships designed to spur investment in energy efficiency by demonstrating innovative policies and approaches to eliminating market and technical barriers to greater building efficiency. (News Release, DOE, Obama Administration Expands Better Buildings Challenge to Multifamily Housing, Launches New Programs to Boost U.S. Energy Efficiency (Dec. 3, 2013); see also Better Buildings: Accelerators, energy.gov (last visited Dec. 3, 2013).)
- The Industrial Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Accelerator has two components: enterprise-wide partnerships and ratepayer-funded program partnerships. Both involve implementation of the SEP certification program, which provides industrial facilities with a transparent, globally accepted system for demonstrating verified energy management excellence and sustained energy savings. Enterprise-wide partnerships are designed to demonstrate ways of scaling SEP across three or more industrial facilities, allowing companies to benefit from economies of scale. (Fact Sheet, DOE, Industrial Superior Energy Performance Accelerator: Enterprise-Wide Partners.) Ratepayer-funded program partnerships with utilities and energy-efficiency program administrators are designed to support deployment of SEP to multiple manufacturers across a service territory. (Fact Sheet, DOE, Industrial Superior Energy Performance Accelerator: Ratepayer-Funded Program Partners.)
- The Energy Data Accelerator is a partnership with utilities and local governments to demonstrate low-cost, standardized approaches for providing energy data for the purpose of whole-building energy-performance benchmarking. (Fact Sheet, DOE, Energy Data Accelerator.)
- The Performance Contracting Accelerator is designed to expand the use of energy-performance contracting by federal, state, and local governments, K-12 schools, and others. Energy performance contracting allows building owners to use future cost savings to pay for new efficient equipment and services. The Accelerator aims to catalyze $2 billion in public-sector investments in energy efficiency between January 2013 and December 2016. (Fact Sheet, DOE, Performance Contracting Accelerator.)
May 9, 2014: DOE launched a High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator to increase the adoption and use of high-efficiency outdoor lighting in the public sector, including replacement of more than half a million outdoor lighting poles. (See Fact Sheet, White House, President Obama Announces Commitments and Executive Actions to Advance Solar Deployment and Energy Efficiency (May 9, 2014).)
This page was last updated on July 16, 2014.