The High-Performance Buildings Caucus of the U.S. Congress (HPBCC) was formed to heighten awareness and inform policymakers about the major impact buildings have on our health, safety, and welfare. Cochaired by U.S. Reps. David McKinley, R-West Virginia, and Peter Welch, D-Vermont, the caucus aims to provide the best present and future protection and benefit to American citizens, visitors, and the natural environment. Further, the policies created are designed to help support the development of private-sector standards, codes, and guidelines that will protect and improve the quality and utility of our built environment in harmony with the natural environment.
And, in an effort to provide this specialized congressional group with appropriate guidance, the HVAC industry has banded together to form the High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC).
The HPBCCC, a private-sector coalition of nearly 200 associations and corporations, was created seven years ago to promote and showcase the best practices in building design. The group aims to heighten awareness and inform policymakers working as active HPBCC members.
Each month, HPBCCC members meet in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss pending regulations, bills, and more. Recommendations made at these meetings are shared with congressional leaders in support of or against specific political provisions.
“Sometimes, legislative language is drafted, and it hasn’t had the proper vetting, so it comes out troublesome and cumbersome” said Dain Hansen, chair, HPBCCC, and senior vice president of government relations for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). “Our goal is to help shape any policy-related language in a way that’s beneficial to the industry and, most importantly, end users.”
The HPBCCC offers various ways to become involved, including educational/outreach and policy committees that cover different areas of congressional administration.
“We now have a policy committee, essentially a lobbying arm, for those who don’t have lobbyists, or people based in D.C. focusing on policy initiatives,” said Hansen. “Some join our coalition for informational reasons, and others, such as think tanks, may have 501(c)(3) status and aren’t legally allowed to lobby. They join the coalition to provide updates on industry matters, which is beneficial to us on many levels.”
Annually, the coalition hosts High-Performance Building Week, a celebration of high-performing buildings in Washington.
“Previously, groups would talk about their issues individually — the HVAC guys would go one way and the water experts would go another — but, as of late, we’ve really worked to band together,” said Hansen “This makes it easier for Congress to hear our issues. Rather than coming at them with a thousand little groups, our voice is much more unified.”
While Hansen admits participation varies by the season, the HPBCCC is growing stronger by the day.
“Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about tax incentives, including HVAC systems,” said Hansen. “There’s been a lot of support on Energy Star ratings and commercial building tax incentives, such as support for 45L. Our efforts have been very well received by Congress.”
And, the group’s members agree the coalition has been an effective tool for the industry.
“ACCA has been a member of the HPBCCC for at least seven years,” said Charlie McCrudden, senior vice president for government relations, ACCA. “We joined because we have an interest in promoting the benefits of higher-efficiency building improvements to policy makers. The HPBCCC is the way stakeholders can support the caucus and the initiatives of the individual caucus members. The coalition is careful how it supports specific initiatives or bills, so there are few internal conflicts. But, it does bring together the right stakeholders to better inform members of the caucus, and their staff.”
Jon Melchi, vice president of government affairs and business development for Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), supports the coalition’s call for solidarity.
“Having groups like the HPBCCC is valuable for providing a forum for all of the diverse communities that make up this industry to get together, exchange ideas, advocate for good policy, and serve as a resource for policy makers,” he said. “One of the strengths of this group is that it has a continued presence in Washington and on the Hill, which is a signal to leaders that our coalition is one that should be respected and valued.”
“This coalition is an important way for us to work with the House High-Performance Buildings Caucus,” said Cade Clark, vice president of government affairs, Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). “We’re grateful for the opportunity to participate in this coalition as attention and support for high-performance buildings is one of many paths to improved energy efficiency.”
Due to the HPBCCC’s guiding emphasis on enacting efficiency legislation, the members of Congress at the helm have built coalitions to deliver more than a dozen energy-efficiency incentives to the President’s desk, often against long odds on Capitol Hill, said Stan Kolbe, director of legislative affairs, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
“The HPBCCC has also helped to organize a unified coalition of national organizations, in addition to SMACNA, to more effectively promote policies that are largely in sync on energy efficiency, Kolbe said. “With increased visibility and impact, the HPBCCC has focused the attention of Congress and the policymakers on the value of the energy-efficiency policy menu to government, private-sector building owners, homeowners, and the construction industry workforce,” said Kolbe.
SIDEBAR: Top 11 Policy Priorities of 2015 High-Performance Building Awareness Week
2) Reform the Federal Buildings Personnel Act (PL 111 – 308) and support research relative to the impact of workforce training on building performance;
3) Authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense Program;
5) Pass the Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability Act of 2015 (S 1218);
6) Pass enhanced provisions that incorporate energy efficiency improvements in the underwriting for home mortgages (SAVE Act);
7) Pass the Home Owner Managing Energy Savings Act (HR 2073) or HOMES Act;
8) Expand the Use of Energy and Utility Saving Performance Contracts (ESPCs)/(USPCs);
9) Reintroduce the High Performance Federal Buildings Act;
10) Support the effective implementation of OMB Circular No. A - 119 and the training of code enforcement officials; and
11) Support legislation that improves the performance and quality of buildings by promoting energy/water efficiency, indoor air quality, necessary infrastructure and operations/maintenance research as it relates to the built environment.
For more information on the HPBCCC, visit www.hpbccc.org.
Publication date: 11/16/2015