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senate Bill S. 535

Could A (Voluntary) Program Make Commercial Buildings More Energy Efficient?

Argument in favor

A program that allows for voluntary participation in energy efficiency investments is a better way forward than offering subsidies or forcing compliance through regulation.

Absolutely. We're going to run out of oil within the next 50 years, we need to start becoming more efficient while we still can.
Like (4)
Luke's Opinion
This is important because pushing green technology before it is ready actually harms the environment more in the long tun
Like (3)
Evercraft's Opinion
Although missing incentives, a cost-neutral bill to aid businesses in converting to more efficient energy is something I could get behind.
Like (3)

Argument opposed

There’s no incentives for participation in this program aside from potential (but not guaranteed) savings in energy costs.

John's Opinion
Regulation is going to be required. Most companies won't look past the next fiscal year when making decisions like this.
Like (8)
Thomas's Opinion
No incentives to participate in this program and would just add additional bureaucracy.
Like (6)
Stanmanstu's Opinion
We need less government regulation of corporations. Government is to protect people's rights, not be overreaching .
Like (4)

What is Senate Bill S. 535?

This bill would mandate the creation of best practices and model commercial leasing provisions to align building owner's/tenant's interests with cost effective investments in energy and water efficiency.

Within 180 days of the enactment of this bill, the Secretary of Energy (DOE) and the Administrator of General Services would be charged with creating the provisions, and soliciting public comment.

These best practices, once they had been created would apply to any federal agency identified as a landlord or tenant in a lease document.

The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after consulting with the Secretary of Energy, would be directed to create a voluntary program promoting energy efficiency in leased spaces and commercial buildings. This program would be created within the Energy Star program, and would be known as the Tenant Star program.


Tenants and building owners — could be residential, commercial, or mixed-use, utility companies, government agencies at the federal, state, and local level, the DOE, the EPA, the GSA, the Administrators of the EPA and GSA, and the DOE Secretary.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 535

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, according to a press release from the bill sponsor, the legislation is budget neutral — meaning that it would neither increase nor decrease the deficit.

More Information

Of Note:

This bill was included as an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline legislation that President Obama vetoed. It was also introduced in the 113th Congress, where it passed in the House of Representatives by a 375-36 vote, but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.


In a manner similar to the Energy Star program, under this legislation the EPA administrator would recognize commercial buildings and tenants that voluntarily achieve high levels of energy efficiency. Different building occupancy categories would be established for recognition, in addition to considering other potential recognition categories.

The Secretary of Energy and the EPA Administrator would be directed to complete a study and report it to Congress within two years of this legislation’s enactment covering:

  • State and local performance benchmarking and disclosure policies.

  • Programs and systems where utilities provide aggregated information about an entire building's energy consumption and usage information. This applies to multi-tenant commercial, residential, and mixed-use buildings.

Further, the DOE and EPA study would consider:

  • Compliance rates and the costs/benefits of policies and programs on building owners, utilities, tenants, and related parties.

  • Exceptions to compliance in existing laws when building owners aren’t able to gather the entire building’s energy information.

  • Implementation practices, disclosure methods, and the phase-in of compliance.

  • The safety and security of benchmarking tools offered by government agencies, and the resiliency of those tools against cyber-attacks.

Within 18 months of this bill’s enactment, an energy-related information database would be created to store publicly offer tips for commercial and multifamily buildings. The database would include:

  • Data provided in the course of federal, state, local or other benchmarking;

  • Information on buildings that have disclosed energy ratings and certifications;

  • Energy related information about buildings, voluntarily offered by building owners, which could be anonymous unless otherwise noted.


Sponsoring Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) Press Release

Letters in Support of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (Previous Version)

Alliance to Save Energy Summary (Previous Version)

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon


Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to promote energy efficiency.

bill Progress

  • EnactedApril 30th, 2015
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed April 21st, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • The senate Passed March 27th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
    IntroducedFebruary 23rd, 2015

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