Background

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published in the October 15, 2010 Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement provisions of the Energy Conservation and Production Act (ECPA), as amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), that require the DOE to establish revised performance standards for the construction of all new federal buildings, including commercial buildings, multi-family high-rise residential buildings, and low-rise residential buildings. Click here to review this notice of proposed rulemaking.

The provisions in this notice of proposed rulemaking address the reduction of fossil fuel-generated energy consumption in newly constructed federal buildings and federal buildings undergoing major renovations. This proposed rule also addresses how agencies other than the General Services Administration (GSA) may petition DOE for a downward adjustment of the requirements if they believe meeting the full fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reduction level is technically impracticable in light of the specified function needs for that building.

This proposed rule would amend certain portions of 10 CFR parts 433 and 435, the regulations governing energy efficiency in federal buildings. The proposed rule would establish revised federal building energy efficiency performance standards for achieving the reductions in fossil fuel-generated energy consumption, as listed in ECPA, as amended by EISA. The proposed rule would also clarify which building types are covered by the standards and which building types are excluded. The proposed rule establishes a methodology for compliance including the calculation of the maximum allowable fossil fuel-generated energy consumption based on building type and how fossil fuel consumption resulting from electricity usage should be considered.

Scope of Proposed Rule

Section 305(a)(3) of ECPA, as amended, directs DOE to establish regulations that require fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reductions be applied to a subset of new federal buildings and federal buildings undergoing major renovations. DOE notes that the definition of "federal building" was changed by statute (42 U.S.C. § 6832), and DOE is addressing that definition and the definition of "new federal building" in a separate rulemaking. The statute now defines "federal building" as any building to be constructed by, or for the use of, any federal agency. In the separate rulemaking, DOE is proposing that the term include buildings built for the purpose of being leased by a federal agency, and privatized military housing.

Fiscal Year Percentage Reductions

Section 305 of ECPA, as amended by EISA, mandates that buildings subject to this proposed rule must be designed to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by 55 percent beginning in fiscal year 2010, 65 percent beginning in fiscal year 2015, 80 percent beginning in fiscal year 2020, 90 percent beginning in fiscal year 2025, and 100 percent beginning in fiscal year 2030. DOE interprets this table in the statute to mean that any building whose design for construction begins in the fiscal year specified in the statute must be designed to achieve the fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reduction for that fiscal year.

Congress directed DOE to establish a rule addressing these fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reductions beginning in fiscal year 2010. DOE believes that the fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reductions do not apply to federal agencies until the regulations implementing the reductions are finalized. This proposed rule would apply to buildings for which design for construction begins at least one year after the final rule is issued.

Methodology to Determine Compliance

In order to determine whether a building meets the numeric fossil fuel reduction requirements, a baseline against which the reduction can be measured must be established. For purposes of the proposed rulemaking, the statute establishes the baseline to be energy consumption data from Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) for commercial buildings and Residential Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) for residential buildings. ECPA, as amended by EISA, requires that the buildings subject to this proposed rule be designed so that the fossil fuel-generated energy consumption of the buildings is reduced as compared with energy consumption data of a similar building in fiscal year 2003, as measured by CBECS or RECS (42 U.S.C. § 6834(a)(3)(D)(i)(I)). DOE is developing fossil fuel-generated energy requirements based on building types using CBECS or RECS data, and then is applying a climate adjustment using the climate zones defined in the baseline energy efficiency standards at 10 CFR parts 433 and 435.

Once the baseline fossil fuel-generated energy consumption from the 2003 CBECS and 2005 RECS has been determined, the consumption reduction requirements should be calculated. To determine compliance, DOE is proposing that the fossil fuel-generated energy consumption of the proposed new federal building or federal building undergoing major renovation should be estimated using the Performance Rating Method found in Appendix G of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004 for commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings, and the ICC International Energy Conservation Code 2004 Supplement for low-rise buildings. Because of the complexity involved in estimating fossil fuel-generated energy consumption, this compliance requirement effectively requires the use of a whole building simulation tool.

Purchase of Offsite Renewable Energy

In order to meet the maximum allowable fossil fuel-generated energy consumption requirements mandated by statute, fossil fuel-generated energy consumption could be offset with use of energy created from other sources, including renewable energy sources. DOE is leaning toward allowing Power Purchase Agreements with a long-term contract to count toward meeting the fossil fuel-generated energy consumption reduction requirements, but not allowing Renewable Energy Certificates.

Public Comments and Public Meeting

Public comments on this proposed rule will be accepted until December 15, 2010. DOE will hold a public meeting on November 12, 2010, in Washington, DC.