President Obama signed the bipartisan Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 on April 30, 2015 (the “Act”), which encourages energy and water efficiency through a variety of measures.  Authored by U.S. Senators Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, Bill S. 535 was passed by the Senate on March 27, 2015 and by the House on April 21, 2015.

The Act is comprised of three separate sections: the Better Buildings Act of 2015, Grid-Enabled Water Heaters, and Energy Information for Commercial Buildings, and includes, among other things, the following:

  • The General Services Administration (GSA) must create and provide model leasing language to address the “split incentive” dilemma faced by landlords and tenants of paying for and implementing energy and water efficient measures in commercial buildings;
  • The Energy Policy and Conservation Act is amended to permit grid-enabled water heaters in certain instances;
  • The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is amended to require the government to gather and publish energy usage data collected through federal, state, local, and other programs that require building benchmarking or energy disclosure related to commercial and multifamily buildings;
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will create a voluntary program called the “Tenant Star” program, to be used in connection with the Energy Star program, which recognizes tenants in commercial buildings that have obtained high levels of energy efficiency;

In the future, building owners and users should look for the development of various tools to be created under the Act, such as the model leasing provisions, the Tenant Star program, and a public energy disclosure database.