Thank you, Madam Chairman. I appreciate you holding this hearing to discuss ways to increase efficiency in building operations.
Innovation and efficiency have been cornerstones of American industry and society, from post-Revolution industrialization, to Henry Ford’s assembly line, to the post-World War II boom, right up through today’s continued economic growth. Using less to do more has long been a principle that has helped the United States become the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen. And along with developing new domestic sources of energy and ensuring a diverse energy supply, increasing efficiency is an important part of enhancing our overall energy security.
Recent years have seen great strides in the area of energy efficiency. Out of 105 recommendations in President Bush’s 2001 National Energy Policy, more than half specifically address efforts to improve energy efficiency and to improve the performance and lower the cost of alternative forms of energy. Additionally, the President recently signed Executive Order 13423, which directs Federal agencies to implement sustainable practices for energy efficiency as well as high-performance buildings, recycling, and renewables, among others.
In 2006, 20 Federal agencies and the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality signed a Memorandum of Understanding titled “Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings.” In signing on to the Memorandum, these Agencies committed to optimizing energy performance and conserving water in their buildings, as well as enhancing indoor environmental quality and reducing the environmental impact of building materials. The General Services Administration is one of the signatories of that Memorandum – welcome, Commissioner Winstead, and I look forward to your testimony.
And the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains numerous provisions pertaining to energy efficiency. There are standards and incentives that address private homes, commercial buildings, and Federal facilities. There are tax credits available for homeowners and homebuilders who meet energy efficiency requirements, and deductions for commercial buildings that meet a 50-percent energy reduction standard. New Federal standards include a 30-percent reduction below ASHRAE standards in energy use for new buildings, and new standards for 15 large appliances. According to the Senate Energy Committee, the energy savings from the new efficiency standards put forward in the Energy Policy Act will be equal to eighty (80) 600-megawatt power plants by the year 2020.
Madam Chairman, I am glad that Democrats in leadership positions, such as yourself, are ready to embrace this Administration’s stance on energy efficiency measures, and I am glad to cosponsor the “Public Buildings Cost Reduction Act of 2007” with you, although I still have some questions about how the program would work. However, in considering legislation, we should always be cautious of any new mandates we are creating. I welcome today Ms. Melanie Townshend, who is testifying on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America. In her testimony, Ms. Townsend will discuss concerns that I have heard expressed by many others about favoring one green building standard over others in legislation – what would essentially be brand endorsement by law.
I look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses today. Thank you, Madam Chairman.