However, the Trump administration has taken aim at Obama’s
Climate Action Plan with the Presidential Executive Order on
Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, identifying goals of striking down energy-related regulations that
executive departments have mandated in the past. This executive
order could threaten the future of the Better Buildings Challenge,
although it is not yet clear how or to what extent.
Executive orders have some historical precedent of being more
symbolic, guiding the vision and overall policy of a presidency.
Whether or not this particular executive order will on its own
largely impact Obama’s Climate Action Plan is unclear at this
point. But what an executive order may or may not be able to
accomplish can be done so through legislation.
The budget proposal Trump will expand and hopes to usher
through Congress provides more concrete plans for cuts within
several departments that house energy efficiency programs.
While this budget proposal will undoubtedly undergo major
ENERGY STAR on the Chopping Block
changes to placate the many factions of the House, the origi-
nal budget presented provides insight into the trajectory this
administration would like to follow as far as federal
Two of the most important departments to look
at with the budget proposal are the Department of
Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency,
both of which would face cuts in 2018.
The DOE’s proposed cuts seem small compared
to other departments with 6% or $1.7 billion in cuts
having been proposed to its 2017 allocation. However,
under this prospective budget, the National Nuclear
Security Administration would receive a $1.4 billion
boost, meaning cuts to other programs in the depart-
ment – ones that might impact building operators –
compound under this budget.
One of the hardest-hit agencies under the pro-
posed budget cuts is the EPA; the agency’s overall
budget would shrink by 31% or $2.6 billion. Stating a
desire to cut back on regulations that hinder businesses, the presi-
dent set his sights on cutting one particular program in the EPA:
As the old maxim goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That could be a major problem for facility managers, as the
program that provides the most resolute benchmarking standard
and system in the U.S. is in serious jeopardy of being cut entirely.
Despite its status as one of the most popular government programs that has few political foes, the Trump administration has
targeted ENERGY STAR, the labeling, certification and benchmarking program, to be cut. While the program appears to be safe
for the near future, the program is far less secure past September.
“For FY 2017, major programs that help support private sector
commercial buildings with sustainability such as ENERGY STAR
will not be directly affected. But based on the programs that
the ‘skinny budget’ targets for elimination, there are important
questions about whether that might occur in FY 2018,” says Liz
Beardsley, Senior Policy Counsel at USGBC.
There seems to be a fair amount of optimism that ENERGY
STAR might survive these cuts, but its specific inclusion in
Trump’s budget proposal causes some concern. Those with optimism for ENERGY STAR’s survival cite its lack of enemies in
Washington; members of both parties have recognized its positive
“I’m not predicting that it’s going to be cut, but Trump specifi-
cally calling it out gives that a better chance of happening,” says
John Bryant, Vice President of Advocacy, Codes and Standards at
BOMA International. “When you’re looking at significant reduc-
tions to an agency, that could mean anything. But he specifically
calls out certain programs that he thinks should be eliminated.
We were surprised that this was something that he would call out,
being someone who is familiar with real estate deals and opera-
tions. ENERGY STAR doesn’t have many enemies.”
However, if Congress enacts these proposed cuts, the void
left from ENERGY STAR would have significant consequences.
Beyond the changes that would occur on the manufacturing side
of the industry with its popular labeling program, energy bench-
marking in buildings would face a number of roadblocks.
THE SWAP IS
ONE of the
popular initiatives. The reality
web series follows
from two organizations as they
inspect each other’s buildings for
The most recent
the cities of Boston and Atlanta.
VOLUNTARY INFORMATION SHARING has helped FMs cut energy use significantly. Michigan State University’s participation in the Better Buildings
Challenge improved its energy footprint by 13% in the 20 million square feet
included in the program. The future of programs like these is in question.
DEPARTMEN T OF ENERGY