Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (S. 535) and The Better Buildings Act (H.R. 873)

QCA Position:

Congress should pass S. 535 / H.R. 873. Introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R – OH) and Jean Shaheen (D – NH) and Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT). The Act would provide enhanced financing mechanisms and additional technical assistance to help residential, commercial, public and industrial facilities achieve greater building and operating energy efficiency as well as incentivize new technologies to reduce energy waste and lower operational costs.

The Issue:

According to the Energy Information Agency, the combined annual energy costs for U.S. commercial buildings and industrial facilities total more than $200 billion, and more than 30 percent of a building’s energy use is inefficient or wasted. The industrial sector uses over 30 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S.—more than any other sector—so the opportunity for greater efficiency and job creation is extensive. Furthermore, energy research reports by McKinsey and Company have documented that the industrial sector leads all efficiency opportunities with 40 percent of cost-effective energy efficiency potential in the U.S. economy achievable by 2020.

Through a host of provisions relating to building codes, industrial efficiency, and energy efficiency efforts in government, S. 535/H.R. 873, would create “Tenant Star”, a voluntary, market-based program to encourage commercial and multifamily landlords and tenants to align themselves around complicated and expensive energy efficiency improvements in buildings. S. 535 is not based upon costly subsidies or complex government programs for impact.  The bill provides no new tax or other expensive financial incentive or new regulations.  But it does give a boost and powerful “branding” opportunities for real estate owners and managers to market their buildings to tenants, investors, and other key audiences. It will also spur job growth in contracting and manufacturing, by encouraging more energy efficiency assessments, retrofit projects and installation of high performance buildings. The bipartisan legislation would promote greater deployment of energy efficiency technologies in the building sector, helping owners and tenants cut costs and carbon pollution.

Inefficiencies in residential and commercial buildings account for more than 40 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption and 40 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with commercial buildings in many major cities accounting for the vast majority of carbon emissions. S. 535/H.R. 873 will encourage efficiency upgrades as well as construction and building technology code upgrades across all building types and sectors.

Key Points:

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act’s national efficiency goals:

  • Incentivize the nation’s building sector to adopt currently available technologies and processes that will speed up building productivity and energy efficiency;

  • Encourage the nation’s number one energy consumer—the government—to lead the way by adopting a number of new programs to reduce energy consumption, benchmark the public building inventory for retrofit planning and smarter public school operation;

  • Create new incentives to broaden use of commercially available products and approaches that will lower energy consumption and costs for tenants and consumers;

  • Support public-private R&D and commercialization efforts aimed at speeding up development of next-generation energy-efficient technologies;

  • It would boost powerful “branding” opportunities for real estate owners and managers to market their buildings to tenants, investors, and other key audiences.


S. 535, The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Shaheen (D-NH passed from the Senate March 27th without dissent. It is awaiting House floor action by early May. Its companion bill, H.R. 873, The Better Buildings Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), awaits consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Once S. 535 passes the House it can be sent to the President for his signature. President Obama has endorsed a broad group of residential, commercial, industrial and public building efficiency initiatives and has indicated support for S. 535 / H.R. 873.

S. 535 Co-Sponsors

Portman, Robert "Rob" (R-OH)            Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)
Franken, Al (D-MN)                              Ayotte, Kelly (R-NH)
Collins, Susan (R-ME)                         Manchin, Joe (D-WV)
Bennet, Michael (D-CO)                      Gardner, Cory (R-CO)

H.R. 873 Co-Sponsors

McKinley, David (R-WV)                     Welch, Peter (D-VT)