House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for Our Nation's (CLEAN) Future Act, the marker for advancing the Biden Administration’s priorities around climate change, energy resiliency, environmental justice and strengthening the recovering economy.
The goal of the mammoth 981-page bill is to reach a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels by 2030, and a 100 percent clean economy with net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050. It lays out a plan to move to a clean energy economy that protects people and communities and creates jobs.
The bill authorizes $565 billion in spending over the next 10 years, including a variety of new programs for environmental justice, energy efficiency, transportation and electrical transmission. It establishes a Green Bank with $100 billion in capital to make investments in low- and zero-emissions energy technologies, climate resiliency projects, industrial decarbonization, energy grid modernization, clean transportation—among other things.
Bill Aims to Achieve Racial Equity through Environmental Justice
The legislation puts a strong focus on racial equity with 40 percent of its funding directed toward related efforts. Specifically, it would provide funding for environmental justice communities, the establishment of an Office of Energy Equity at the Department of Energy (DOE), and the creation of a grant program for climate justice. In addition, it would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to consider cumulative health risks confronting communities that have historically borne a disproportionate pollution burden.
Energy Efficiency, Water Benchmarking, and Solar Provisions to Impact Multifamily Sector
Of particular interest to the multifamily are the programs that address building energy efficiency, including development of a model building energy code that establishes goals for national energy savings (not including on-site generation). Using the ASHRAE 90.1 model code (2016 version), building energy performance standards would ratchet up automatically with a 20 percent improvement over the 2016 baseline by 2023, moving to a 35 percent increase in efficiency by 2026 and rising to a 50 percent increase in building energy savings by 2029.
The bill also establishes a federal energy and water benchmarking requirement for multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet in size as well as for a campus of two or more buildings that are behind a common utility meter and used primarily as multifamily housing. While several states and cities have building energy consumption benchmarking requirements in place, this new program would eliminate voluntary efforts around monitoring building performance and require owners to use EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool to track energy and water use in buildings and report on building characteristics, site and source energy and the building’s ENERGY STAR score. If the property is in a jurisdiction that already requires benchmarking, the federal requirement would not be in effect.
As part of the push to decarbonize the grid, the bill includes grant programs that would incentivize solar installations to power affordable multifamily properties. It also lays out a comprehensive national recycling strategy that would involve collection activities in multifamily communities.
In introducing the Bill, Pallone expressed hope that this would be a bipartisan effort but hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the reconciliation process will be used to advance the bill. The Committee will take up the bill in subcommittee hearings later this month, with intent to move the bill to the full House as soon as possible. Prospects for action in the Senate are uncertain. There is strong interest in moving on climate change and next generation energy technologies, but the contours of an agreed path forward have yet to emerge. A section by section summary of the bill is available on the Committee website.