Energy Efficiency Gets Big Boost in Biden Budget Bid

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June 18, 2021
by John Boling

If you happen to catch US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm talking about what many consider a boring subject, budgets, you will be surprised to find she gives an animated and exciting presentation about energy efficiency, renewable fuels, and transitioning to carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero emission economy by no later than 2050.

A quick peek at the Department of Energy budget justification for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the largest funder of clean energy technologies in the federal government, reveals the Biden administration’s promise to increase funding for these initiatives was no mere campaign promise. Demonstrating its commitment to its energy goals, the Biden Administration included an additional $1.87 billion for EERE in its fiscal year 2022 request (Oct. 1, 2021 – Sept. 30, 2022), for a total of $4.73 billion.

Within the EERE is the Building Technologies Office (BTO), which focuses on research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) to encourage the building sector to adopt technologies that can improve energy efficiency and energy demand flexibility while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Residential and commercial buildings are the single largest energy-consuming sector in the US economy, representing approximately 39% of total US energy consumption, and they are responsible for 36% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. These facts make it clear that this program’s success is key to the administration goal of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. BTO’s budget was increased by 31.7% to $382 million in the FY ‘22 request.

BTO-sponsored RDD&D activities focus on breaking down barriers between the many and overlapping segments of the building sector and identifying opportunities to innovate with energy efficient technologies that impact the largest energy demands within buildings: lighting, space conditioning and refrigeration, water heating, appliances, and miscellaneous electric loads, as well as the energy lost though building enclosures (including windows, insulation, etc.). IIBEC is a supporter of the Better Buildings Building Envelope Campaign.

Among the long list of programmatic goals for BTO is providing support for local governments’ analysis and adoption of building energy codes. The proposed budget would also fund building energy code advancements, including improving processes to update model energy codes, making a formal determination as to whether new editions increase energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings, and providing technical assistance to states and local governments to support energy code implementation.

Congressional committees are currently reviewing the Biden budget proposal and it will be used as the basis for their FY ’22 budget resolution, which is tentatively scheduled to be voted on by both chambers in July.

IIBEC Director of Government Relations John Boling

Boling joined IIBEC in early 2021. He focuses on increasing IIBEC’s influence on federal, state, provincial, and local public policy, helping shape codes and standards, expanding IIBEC’s influence in the building industry, and increasing the relevance and value of IIBEC’s policy positions. You can reach him at jboling@iibec.org.