Realtors Get Labels Cut From Climate Bill for Older Houses

"The pending climate bill passed by the House has a medley of programs to save energy in buildings, but there was one in particular that drew the attention of the multitrillion-dollar real estate industry.

It was a plan to create an 'energy label' for homes and commercial buildings, showing, in one simple illustration, how much energy they use compared to their ideal performance. In theory, the information would be like the miles per gallon stickers on cars, giving vital information to buyers and owners, who are becoming increasingly aware of rising energy costs.

The real estate industry had a different take: It called the labels a scarlet letter that would stigmatize old, energy-leaky buildings, making them harder to sell. They said it would hobble a market already suffering from the mortgage meltdown.

Before the bill reached the House floor, Realtors made their case to Congress. As originally written, the bill proposed by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) would instruct U.S. EPA to develop two kinds of labels: one for brand-new buildings, and one for the older buildings that cause the bulk of the sector's CO2 emissions -- roughly 40 percent of the U.S. total.

Congressmen, led by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), heard the industry's views and struck a bargain: EPA would still design a label, but only for new buildings and major renovations. Older buildings, which will make up the majority of the building stock for decades, were exempted."

Saqib Rahim reports for ClimateWire August 4, 2009.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009