Investing in New Strategies for Upgrading Lower Attaining Efficiency (INSULATE) Buildings Act

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Investing in New Strategies for Upgrading Lower Attaining Efficiency (INSULATE) Buildings Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide grants to states and territories, through the State Energy Program, to establish revolving loan funds for energy audits and efficiency upgrades, giving businesses and homeowners the resources they need to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and facilities. The bill would also prioritize funding for states with the poorest efficiency in buildings.

ERA staff summarizes that the legislation focuses on funding for energy efficiency retrofit but will clearly have potential impact on the roof in sector both commercial and residential. There is some concern among those in the building products manufacturing industry that this seems like an odd situation unless the government can get the laggard states to upgrade their codes. If they leave codes where they are and offer incentives to upgrade, it leaves the market with a mixed message.

Upon further analysis, ERA staff indicates that the fossil fuel industry needs a strategy to deal with the increasing drumbeat for climate action. The underpinning for this effort is twofold apparently. A number of governors from coal producing states want to increase US carbon capture and sequestration investments. At the same time many of the same states have the poorest insulation and efficiency performance in their building stock so it appears that some advocates think that sequestration plus efficiency may be a great alternative to a renewables mandate.

It is possible that this bill might be included in any infrastructure package. It makes sense given the overall tenor of the proposal putting money into states for retrofits of commercial and residential dwellings that ERA supports it as well. ERA will continue to work with other interested advocates for high-performance buildings to ensure that the infrastructure legislation focuses on buildings as well.