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Velazquez Introduces Bill to Improve Energy Efficiency of Public Buildings

Velázquez Introduces Bill to Improve Energy Efficiency of Public Buildings
March 30, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) builds upon her efforts to bring green infrastructure to the forefront with the introduction of H.R. 1993, the Energy Efficient Public Buildings Act. This bill would establish a $4 billion dollar grant program through the Department of Energy to aid public buildings in upgrading and retrofitting fixtures to reduce energy consumption. This competitive grant program would allow hospitals, public libraries, community-based non-profits, and additional state and local governments to apply.

“As Congress begins our work to Build Back Better, we must direct federal investments to promote sustainable and equitable infrastructure that fosters a green economy and the development of clean jobs for all,” said Velázquez. “One key to achieving climate justice lies in our own hometowns, where libraries, hospitals, and more all have the potential to become ecologically conscientious institutions. My bill would add to this initiative, allowing existing public buildings to apply for grants to invest in renewable, energy efficient retrofits.”
In addition, Velázquez wanted to ensure that underserved communities that are often left behind in infrastructure overhauls would be taken into account. This bill would prioritize communities in need of environmental justice while determining grant funding allocations. These communities are often comprised of minorities, and bear the brunt of pollution, harmful chemical disposals, and other hazardous living conditions in a given area.

"By funding improvements to public buildings, the Energy Efficient Public Buildings Act of 2021 will invest in America's communities by reducing operating costs, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting public health, and creating design and construction jobs at all skill levels," said Cliff Majersik, Senior Advisor of the Institute for Market Transformation.

“BuildingAction’s members and allies represent a broad, diverse spectrum of the creators and users of buildings who are committed to transforming America’s buildings to secure our nation’s environmental and economic future.  That’s why we made the retrofitting of public buildings to improve their energy efficiency and occupant health our top recommendation to Congress last year. The Energy Efficient Public Buildings Act does precisely that: it will make public libraries, hospitals, community centers and other civic buildings healthier and more energy efficient while creating thousands of well-paying jobs and advancing the goal of environmental justice. This is breakthrough legislation that will deliver the benefits of sustainable buildings to thousands of communities across the nation. We commend Representative Velázquez for her leadership on this issue and urge Congress to advance this bill,” said U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, co-founder of BuildingAction.

"The Energy Efficiency Public Buildings Act will be a first and crucial step to reduce the rate of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings throughout the nation. In New York City alone, nearly 70% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by residential and commercial buildings. As the primary force driving climate change, reducing emissions will improve air quality and provide health benefits to our most vulnerable populations," said Caitlin Buchanan, Congressional Affairs Manager of WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

This legislation has received support from WE ACT for Environmental Justice, BuildingAction, the Institute for Market Transformation, and the International WELL Building Institute.
This bill was cosponsored by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Vice Chair of the Education and Labor Committee Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Select Committee on Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (D-FL)
The text of the bill can be found here.