GSA Administrator Martha Johnson spoke during the July 12, 2010, groundbreaking for a new federal courthouse in Bakersfield, Calif.

DOE Rule to Govern Lower-Energy Federal Buildings

Comments on the proposal are due by Dec. 14. The rule will require reduced use of fossil fuel-generated energy in new federal buildings and federal buildings undergoing major renovation.

The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy published a proposed rule Friday that explains how new federal buildings and federal buildings undergoing a major renovation should reduce their use of fossil fuel-generated energy. Besides accepting public comments until Dec. 14, the agency will host and webcast a public meeting Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C.

The rule will set revised building energy efficiency performance standards for achieving the reductions. It includes a methodology for compliance, including calculating the maximum allowable fossil fuel-generated energy consumption based on building type, and says how fossil fuel consumption resulting from electricity usage should be considered. It also tells agencies how to petition DOE for downward adjustment of the applicable percentage reduction requirement.

The rule covers federal office buildings, post offices, courthouses, border inspection facilities, warehouses, record centers, relocation facilities, telecommuting centers, and similar federal facilities. But it does not cover VA hospitals or housing; a building or construction project that is on the public domain (including national forests); that is on government property in a foreign country; that is on Indian and native Eskimo property; that is used in connection with river, harbor, flood control, reclamation or power projects, for chemical manufacturing or development projects, or for nuclear production, research, or development projects; that is on or used in connection with housing and residential projects; or that is on any military installation.

To be considered a major renovation, the construction project cost must be at least $2.5 million in 2007 dollars, adjusted for inflation using Labor Department Producer Price Indexes. Federally leased buildings are covered, but DOE said it recognizes that a leasing federal agency may not have control over the design of a renovation, so the rule applies if the federal agency has significant control over the renovation design.

Information about the meeting/webcast and participation instructions will be posted on the Building Energy Codes Program's website and/or on the Federal Energy Management Program's website.

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