August 1, 2008
  President Purnell Testifies About Climate Change Before House Energy Committee

Summary: Testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality on behalf of the Institute’s 84,000 members on July 17, AIA President Marshall E. Purnell, FAIA, called for the development of stronger energy building codes as well as incentives to develop energy-efficient buildings. “As this committee has explored this issue through white papers and hearings, one theme has remained constant—any legislation addressing climate change must result in significant greenhouse gas reductions with minimal economic disruption.” Purnell said. “Improving the energy efficiency in our nation’s buildings offers the greatest potential for reducing carbon emissions at the lowest cost.”

“We are making great strides in reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment, but there is so much more we can do. This is a national priority, and it demands a national response,” Purnell declared. “Climate change legislation affords a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make major gains in building efficiency.”

Earlier this year, the Senate debated climate change legislation that would have established a system to regulate carbon emissions. Although the bill fell short of the votes needed to advance, congressional leaders have indicated that a climate change bill will be a major priority for next year’s Congress. Given that the Energy Committee will be charged with crafting next year’s bill, Purnell’s testimony ensures that Congress is aware of the benefits of increased energy efficiency in the built environment.

Specifically, Purnell asked Congress to:

  • Encourage the development of stronger energy building codes. “We support a proposal that was in the House version of last year’s energy bill that would set efficiency targets for residential and commercial codes and would have directed DOE to propose amendments to those codes to reach such targets if they failed to do so,” he said.
  • Provide incentives and technical support to states, localities, utilities, building owners, and the design community to help foster the design, construction, and renovation of energy efficient buildings.

“We look forward to working with you to ensure that any climate change legislation to emerge from this subcommittee encourages greater energy efficiency in our nation’s buildings,” Purnell concluded.

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