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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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Energy Goals and Standards for Federal Government   

Last DSIRE Review: 03/24/2014
Program Overview:
State: Federal
Incentive Type: Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Eligible Efficiency Technologies: Comprehensive Measures/Whole Building, Unspecified Technologies
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Other Distributed Generation Technologies
Applicable Sectors: Fed. Government
Goal:Total energy reduction goal of 30% by FY 2015, using FY 2003 as baseline
Requirement:Energy efficiency specs required in procurement bids and evaluations. Requires premium efficient products for a variety of equipment types.
New federal buildings must be designed 30% below ASHRAE standards or IECC, and obtain 30% of their hot water demand from solar water heating, if life-cycle cost-effective.
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Date Enacted:
Energy Policy Act 2005 (sec. 102, 104, 109)
Authority 2:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
Executive Order 13423
Authority 3:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 (sec. 431, 523)
Authority 4:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
Executive Order 13514

The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) established several goals and standards to reduce energy use in existing and new federal buildings. Executive Order 13423, signed in January 2007, expanded on those goals and standards and was later reaffirmed by congress with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007). EISA 2007 extended an existing federal energy reduction goal to 30% by fiscal year 2015; directed federal agencies to purchase Energy Star and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated products; and required new federal buildings to be built 30% below ASHRAE* standards or the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The General Services Administration announced an even stricter requirement in their FY 2010-2015 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, stating that all new federal buildings will be designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, and meet Energy Star standards.

Most recently, Executive Order 13514, signed in October 2009, created a series of new requirements aimed at increasing the sustainability of all federal agencies. To help achieve these goals, the Executive Order requires all federal agencies to appoint a Senior Sustainability Officer who will prepare and implement a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan for the agency. These plans can be found here.

Section 431 of EISA 2007 increased the federal energy reduction goal from 2% per year (as established by EPAct 2005) to 3% per year, resulting in 30% greater efficiency by 2015. The reporting baseline for energy savings is 2003, so that energy consumption per gross square foot of federal buildings is reduced, compared to energy consumption in 2003. The specified percentage reductions for each fiscal year are:

  • FY 2006 .......2%
  • FY 2007 .......4%
  • FY 2008 .......9%
  • FY 2009 .......12%
  • FY 2010 .......15%
  • FY 2011 .......18%
  • FY 2012 .......21%
  • FY 2013 .......24%
  • FY 2014 .......27%
  • FY 2015 .......30%

Under EPAct 2005, federal agencies are permitted to retain savings achieved through energy and water reductions. To help achieve these energy reductions, new construction and major renovation of agency buildings must comply with the "Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings" set forth in the Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (2006). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is charged with recommending new requirements for federal energy performance for FY 2016 - FY 2025 by December 31, 2014.

Section 104 of EPAct 2005 directed federal agencies to purchase Energy Star and FEMP-designated products when procuring energy-consuming items covered by the Energy Star program, except when purchasing such items is not cost-effective or does not meet functional requirements of the agency. Agencies must also incorporate energy-efficient specifications in procurement bids and evaluations, and must only purchase premium efficient electric motors, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. EPAct 2005 also instructed the General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Defense to clearly identify and display Energy Star and FEMP-designated products in any inventory, catalog or product listing. The Executive Orders additionally made requirements specifically for electronic equipment purchased by federal agencies. According to the Executive Orders, electronic equipment must be registered by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), Energy Star, or FEMP unless there is no standard for such product.

Section 109 of EPAct 2005 required new federal buildings to be designed 30% below ASHRAE standards or IECC, to the extent that technologies employed are life-cycle cost-effective. In addition, sustainable design principles must be applied to new and replacement buildings. All agencies must identify new building projects in their budget requests and identify those that meet or exceed the standard.

Section 523 of the EISA 2007 requires that at least 30% of the hot water demand for each new federal building or existing federal buildings undergoing a major renovation be met through the use of solar hot water heating, if it is determined to be life-cycle cost-effective.

The executive orders also call for agencies to reduce water consumption intensity when cost-effective. Additionally, agencies that operate fleets of at least 20 vehicles are also required to reduce their fleet's total consumption of petroleum products by 2% annually through 2015, while increasing their consumption of non-petroleum-based fuel by 10% per year. Agencies are also required to purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles when life-cycle cost analysis demonstrates their cost to be reasonably similar to other vehicles.

In addition to these requirements for building performance, the federal government also has green power purchasing goals for the federal government, whereby the 20% of electricity used by federal agencies must be obtained from renewable sources by 2020. Executive Order 13423 also requires at least half of the required renewable energy consumed by an agency in a fiscal year to come from sources placed in service in 1999 or later.

* ASHRAE is the acronym for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

  Public Information - FEMP
U.S. Department of Energy
Federal Energy Management Program
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585-0121
Phone: (202) 586-5772
Fax: (202) 586-3000
Web Site:
NCSU - home
Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.