House Chairs Share GAO Findings on Opportunities to Improve Energy Efficiency in Federal Buildings
On Thursday, Chair Kathy Castor of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Chairman Bobby L. Rush of the Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Energy shared a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that follows up on their January 2021 letter requesting an investigation into widespread noncompliance with energy efficiency measures at federal facilities.
The GAO report, titled “Federal Energy and Water Management: Agencies Report Mixed Success in Meeting Efficiency Requirements, and Additional Data Are Needed”, underscores the need for continued congressional action to ensure the federal government adopts affordable clean energy and cost-saving energy efficiency technologies. Specifically, the GAO report found that:
- Using automated and centralized data helps federal agencies comply with reporting requirements; and
- Federal agencies cite lack of resources to explain undercompliance with facility evaluation and reporting requirements, and lack of investment in energy efficiency improvements.
The Chairs released the following statements today in response to the GAO report:
“Democrats in the 117th Congress made a down payment on solving the climate crisis, but we cannot rest on our laurels,” said Chair Castor. “We must continue to charge ahead to reduce harmful carbon pollution, especially in buildings. The GAO report highlights an opportunity to lead with federal facilities. It concludes that agencies lack the resources needed to evaluate facilities, report on energy and water use, and invest in energy efficiency upgrades. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the inflation Reduction Act provide those resources, and we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration on cost-saving measures at federal facilities.”
“Buildings are responsible for 35% of carbon emissions nationally and 70% of emissions in my district in New York City,” said Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “This report will help to ensure agencies take advantage of resources to meet the ambitious targets in the President’s Federal Building Performance Standard announced last week, including the billions provided in the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The federal government is the largest building manager in the country, and I am particularly proud of the Oversight Committee’s efforts to support rapid building decarbonization. Together, we can meet our climate goals under the Paris Agreement and save lives by reducing air pollution in frontline communities.”
“In our fight against the climate crisis, the federal government must lead by example, and today’s GAO report highlights the importance of investing in that vision if we’re going to make it a reality,” said Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. “Leading this fight means acknowledging that a staggering 35 percent of greenhouse gas pollution comes from our nation’s buildings, and changing that means ensuring federal agencies have the resources they need to make efficiency improvements and comply with critical energy efficiency standards. Thankfully, the work we did in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act have set us down the path of progress, and I look forward to working with the Biden Administration to do more.”
The 117th Congress has already provided funding to address some of the challenges noted in today’s report, including through:
- $250 million in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies Grant Program; and
- $975 million in the Inflation Reduction Act for the use of emerging and sustainable technologies in federal buildings, as well as $250 million to convert federal facilities to high-performance green buildings.
And the Biden-Harris Administration is leading efforts to improve federal energy efficiency through:
- The Council on Environmental Quality's first-ever Federal Building Performance Standard, which sets a goal of cutting energy use and electrifying equipment and appliances to achieve zero emissions in 30% of the building space owned by the federal government by 2030;
- A proposed rulemaking from the Department of Energy to electrify new federal buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations; and
- President Biden’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions in all federal buildings by 2045.