Energy Efficiency and Climate Change
To help advance an economically prosperous and environmentally sustainable future, NAR supports all forms of energy generation, including voluntary, performance-based incentives to save energy, while minimizing their environmental impacts. NAR also supports educating real estate professionals, real estate owners, developers, managers, tenants, occupants, lenders and investors regarding the benefits of voluntary, market-based energy conservation practices.
The National Association of REALTORS® is committed to the principles of sustainability, energy conservation and the safe extraction of domestic energy supplies.
Find NAR's letters, testimonies, bill updates, and more on the NAR Federal Issues Tracker
What is the fundamental issue?
The federal government is moving forward with voluntary energy efficiency policies and programs, as well as regulations to limit U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Some of these policies, programs and regulations may impact the built environment, including commercial and residential properties.
I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?
If energy efficiency were federally mandated, property owners’ ability to sell their home or building could be at risk without first having to conduct energy audits and improve its heating and cooling system, windows, insulation and/or lighting. Also, older homes that do not meet adequate energy efficiency requirements or score poorly on energy use assessments would be stigmatized and may lose value compared to newer, more efficient homes.
NAR supports improving energy efficiency through voluntary incentives, commercially reasonable approaches and education in lieu of individual building mandates. The Association's policy opposes applying existing laws/regulations that are not designed for global climate change to try to address these issues; provisions that impose undue economic burdens on property owners or managers; or triggering such requirements at the time when real property is sold.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has completed development of a voluntary Home Energy Performance Score and has made it available to consumers on the department's website. DOE is also in the development phase of a similar protocol for commercial buildings and is in the testing and pilot program phase. The program was expected to be released in Spring 2014, but is still currently in the testing phase, with no timeframe for completion or release.
NAR has communicated with Congress, the White House and various federal agencies to reinforce our strong concerns about the stigmatizing effects these kinds of energy use labels may have on commercial and residential real estate. NAR continues to have concerns about the potential for misuse of such information in the transaction and will continue to raise these concerns and work with the Administration to ensure that the information will be used appropriately and not stigmatize or obstruct the sale of older properties.
In the Spring of 2015, the Senate and House passed S. 535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Shaheen (D-NH). This legislation creates the "Tenant Star" program, a voluntary, market-driven approach which encourages building tenants and owners to reduce their energy consumption.
Although Congress did not pass any comprehensive energy policy reform bill in the last Congress, key members have indicated that they will be exploring opportunities to move forward similar legislation in this Congress, which could include provisions that relate to the real estate sector, including:
- The SAVE Act, which encourages the GSE's and the FHA to include energy efficiency improvements in the loan underwriting and appraisal process; and
- Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with reforms for how funds are distributed and property acquired.
- Provisions related to wildfire management activities and providing for a streamlined regulatory process and additional resources to fight wildfires.
Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee