Alexandra Laney, email@example.com, 530-645-2539
December 7, 2022 | Washington DC – Today the White House Council on the Environment released the draft rules for performance standards for federal buildings. Concurrently, the California Energy Commission announced that the State of California has joined the National Building Performance Standards Coalition (Coalition). Both announcements mark continued focus on addressing the climate crisis by creating healthier, more resilient buildings for communities across the U.S.
“The continued growth of the National Building Performance Standard Coalition and the federal government’s commitment to better buildings continue to clear paths to align federal, state, and local efforts to produce a healthier, more resilient, and more prosperous future for all,” says Lotte Schlegel, Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT). With more than two decades of on-the-ground partnerships and experience, IMT is a national expert in driving wider market demand for better buildings via innovative public policies and programs and private business practices. “By focusing on improved performance, we can turn buildings from climate liabilities into leading climate solutions, improve health, and create local jobs, preferably for communities of color and workers who have not traditionally benefitted from real estate investments.”
Local government action
First announced in January 2022, the National BPS Coalition comprises state and local governments that commit to equitably decarbonize America’s buildings and increase community ownership in climate action by establishing co-designed building retrofit and upgrade policies in their communities by Earth Day 2024. With California’s addition to the Coalition, there are nearly 40 participating jurisdictions. The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) estimates that this will result in:
- Better buildings for almost 74 million people
- $124 billion cumulatively invested in buildings through 2040
- 624 million metric tons of CO2e cumulatively eliminated through 2040
“Building performance standards are one of the most powerful policy tools available to spur building retrofits that reduce energy, lower emissions, and improve public health, resilience, and economic opportunity,” says Schlegel. “What sets the National BPS Coalition commitments apart from past efforts, however, is a clear commitment to creating policies and programs with frontline community members—those already bearing the brunt of climate inaction—at the table from the beginning. This has the potential to transform traditional policymaking processes to not only be more inclusive but to also ensure that community needs are met and the benefits of better buildings—cleaner air, more resilient and affordable homes and buildings, and more comfortable places to live, work and play—are felt by all.”
To date, IMT has provided hands-on support to BPS efforts nationally and will continue to provide tools and guidance for all entities interested in turning Coalition efforts into reality. In addition, IMT remains committed to a call for philanthropic support to further activate an aligned network of equity, environmental justice, and building decarbonization leaders to deploy and magnify the potential impact of National BPS Coalition commitments. IMT and its partner, People’s Climate Innovation Center, are now actively fundraising and building this network.
Federal government to lead with its own real estate portfolio
As the largest landlord and building owner in the country, the U.S. federal government has the power to influence the real estate market. Just one agency, the General Services Administration, owns or leases over 376 million square feet of space in 9,600 buildings in more than 2,200 communities nationwide.
“The federal government is leading by doing,” says Schlegel. “Setting a Federal BPS is a concrete step toward achieving President Biden’s pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50%–52% by 2030. Governments and companies setting and meeting portfolio-wide targets add up across the country. Collectively, they can rapidly decarbonize the country’s existing and new building stock in a way that makes communities economically stronger and more resilient to climate change.”
To be successful, IMT recommends the federal government:
- Leverage their purchasing power and procurement processes to create economic opportunity for members of frontline communities
- Commit to improvements beyond energy, such as indoor air quality, water reductions, and resilience.
- Practice transparency by publishing progress against performance targets.
 IMT modeled these estimates using a representative list of 37 potential Coalition jurisdictions and the state of Maryland, which has a BPS but is not currently part of the formal Coalition. Estimates are based on the U.S. Energy Information Agency’s 2021 Annual Energy Outlook and assume policies that drive an additional 50% greenhouse gas reductions in buildings over 25,000 square feet in floor area in each jurisdiction.