Boxer targets energy efficiency for climate strategy

Jan 23, 2013 Posted by

POLITICO

Barbara Boxer introduced a bill to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings. | AP Photo

Barbara Boxer introduced a bill to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings. | AP Photo

By DARREN GOODE | 1/23/13 4:38 AM EST

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer is moving bills to improve building energy efficiency as one means of mitigating climate change.

“There doesn’t have to be ‘a bill’ on climate,” Boxer told reporters Tuesday morning, one day after President Barack Obama gave climate change a prominent place in his second inaugural address. “There are going to be many approaches.”

One is a bill she introduced Tuesday to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings.

The bill would require the General Services Administration to conduct energy audits of buildings owned by the agency to identify ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs and pay for themselves within 10 years as well as calculate costs that could be saved.

GSA would have to report to Congress and the public within a year on the energy and cost savings tied to improving efficiency and set minimum energy-intensity and lighting-efficiency standards for all building leases entered into by the federal government. GSA would also be required to detail energy and water-efficiency information in the leases it submits to Congress for approval.

Boxer said commercial and residential buildings contribute 35 percent of total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

She also wrote a letter Monday to the head of the Economic Development Administration to say she will introduce a bill to use the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program as a model in setting up a program to fund projects in local communities to improve energy efficiency, toughen public works to respond to disasters and save money.

“For example, this TIFIA-like program, which I call BIFIA (for buildings), can help a community invest in clean technologies that reduce energy demands, lower energy bills, and promote more durable energy systems,” she wrote to acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “Leveraging private-sector funds while promoting investments in jobs, infrastructure, innovation and technology can help communities keep pace with the changing global economy.”

In the letter, she asks the economic agency to review the existing economic development programs and share that with her staff within 30 days so she can move forward with the bill.

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