The High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC) has designated June 13-19 as High-Performance Building Week to highlight this strategic resource for energy independence, economic growth, sustainable communities, and slowing climate change. A high-performance building was defined by Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 as one that "integrates and optimizes on a life-cycle basis all major high performance attributes, including energy conservation, environment, safety, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations."
Across the country, members of the building industry are celebrating the week by talking to state and local officials about the value of high-performance buildings. Activities this week in Washington, DC, include a reception on Tuesday, June 15 honoring advancements toward widespread achievement of high-performance buildings, and a Congressional briefing on Friday, June 18, about the progress to date in creating "zero energy" commercial buildings. Net-zero energy buildings are designed to use much less energy than conventional buildings and to generate the energy they do need from on-site renewable energy systems.
Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and six other co-sponsors officially recognized the week with a resolution in the House of Representatives. H. Res. 1407 recognizes the importance of education, outreach, research, and development in furthering our commitment to high-performance buildings, as well as the role of the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in developing new building technologies.
A serious national commitment to high-performance buildings could move us forward on multiple objectives. Because Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, improved lighting, ventilation, and indoor air quality could have an enormous impact on our health, comfort, and productivity. With the building sector currently responsible for around 40 percent of U.S. energy use, making buildings more energy efficient would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change. And with nearly 7.5 million Americans employed in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance sectors, and 13 percent of our GDP coming from construction alone, retrofitting and building a better building stock represents an important opportunity to stimulate the economy.