U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced bipartisan legislation last week to develop energy efficiency standards for buildings that don’t overwhelm homeowners and homebuilders with excessive regulations.

The Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act aims to use more cost-effective energy codes to promote savings in commercial buildings and homes. The lawmakers first introduced a version of the bill in July 2014. At that time, Blackburn said, “This strikes a proper cost-benefit balance by promoting the development of efficiency targets for buildings while ensuring that homeowners and builders are not burdened by unreasonable regulations.”

One key feature: The bill would require a payback period of 10 years or less for any code or proposal backed by the Department of Energy.

“By assuring a reasonable payback period, the bill would ensure that the most practical energy-saving features, such as high-efficiency windows and lighting, would be included in new homes and result in a reduced combined mortgage and utility bill for homeowners,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

The measure also requires the Department of Energy to be the technical adviser for energy code development and prohibits the agency from advocating specific technologies, building materials or construction practices. Woods says that would lead to more informed decisions and cost-effective code change proposals.

Specifically, the bill would ensure that all aspects of Department of Energy code change proposals are made available to the public, are subject to public comment and take small business concerns into account.

“Our clients are interested in energy efficiency, but they deserve to know exactly what they are paying for,” said Ed Zorb, president of Zorb Homes in Knoxville, Tenn.  “No one should be forced to use expensive materials that they cannot afford. This bill will ensure that the department of energy is working on behalf of the home buyer and curtail the influence of outside groups that seek to advance energy code proposals with little regard to the costs for homeowners and homebuilders.”

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