DOE Issues a Final Determination Not to Increase Efficiency Standards for Direct Heating Equipment.
As reported in the February 19, 2021 BECS Committee Update on End Use Codes and Standards, AGA and the American Public Gas Association (APGA) filed joint comments  supporting the DOE proposed determination that more-stringent standards for Direct Heating Equipment (DHE)  would not save a significant amount of energy. Further, depending on the product class, more-stringent standards for DHE would not be technologically feasible or economically justified. As such, DOE had proposed determining that amended energy conservation standards are not needed.   DHE products include natural gas wall furnaces, room heaters and floor furnaces.  Yesterday, DOE issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice of a final determination pertaining to energy conservation standards for direct heating equipment. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (EPCA), prescribes energy conservation standards for various consumer products, including DHE. EPCA also requires DOE to periodically determine whether more-stringent, amended standards would be technologically feasible and economically justified, and would result in significant energy savings. AGA and APGA are pleased to report that DOE has issued a Final Rule that found that “After carefully considering the available market and technical information for these products, DOE has concluded in this document that the technology options, product cost, and energy use have not changed significantly, and that the market for DHE (i.e., number of models available and annual shipments) has decreased since DOE’s prior determination that the energy conservation standards do not need to be amended.” Specifically,  DOE has determined that amended energy conservation standards for DHE are not warranted. The effective date of this rule is 30 days after the notice has published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.  Additional  DHE product information can be found here for Direct Heating Equipmentincluding current standards and test procedures, statutory authority, waivers, exceptions and contact information.
DOE Issues a Final Rule Pertaining to the “Process Rule” – Rejects Retaining Improvements.
Today,  DOE  issued a pre-publication Federal Register final rule pertaining to Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration in New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment (“Process Rule”).  DOE states that “the revisions adopted in this final rule are consistent with longstanding DOE practice and would remove unnecessary obstacles to DOE’s ability to meet its statutory obligations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (“EPCA”). The effective date of this rule is 30 days after the notice has published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.  More information on DOE’s Process Rule can be found here. A preliminary review of the Final Rule indicates  that the DOE rejected comments from the gas industry and a number of other stakeholder  aimed at retaining recent improvements in the Process Rule. On  September 13th, AGA, APGA and Spire, Inc.,  filed  comments responding to the DOE July 7, 2021 Federal Register notice proposing revisions to DOE’s “Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration of New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Certain Commercial/Industrial Equipment” (Process Rule) and requested comments on the proposals and any potential alternatives.  (See September 17, 2021 BECS Committee Update on Codes and Standards Update for the detailed, joint comments}. The joint comments strongly disagreed with DOE’s characterization of the proposed Process Rule  revisions in both the notices that include the following topic areas: coverage determination rulemakings; clarification of EPCA’s rulemaking process for ASHRAE equipment; and clarification of DOE’s analytical methods. The Part One of DOE’s proposed changes to the Process Rule
 returns it  to former requirements including what can be described  as “guidance” rather than a DOE requirement, eliminate the minimum energy savings threshold for DOE to set a standard and reinstate the potential for a stakeholder negotiation process. It  eliminates a  mandatory 180-day waiting period between a test procedure final rule and a proposal for a new standard, a requirement that we believe is a common sense requirement to provide manufacturers time to assess changes on proposed requirements on their covered products. It is unfortunate that DOE did not retain provisions that we believe, strongly  improved the Process Rule and it is unclear at this time, if there is any procedural path that can be taken to obtain a reconsideration of the DOE Final Rule.
DOE Issues a New Request for Proposal (RFP) to Provide Technical Assistance Supporting Better Building Codes.
Today, the DOE Building Technologies Office (BTO)  announced a new
Request for Proposal (RFP) supporting the advancement of building energy codes.  According to DOE, “The RFP addresses some of the most pertinent topics in energy codes, from advanced standards built on innovative technologies and strategies to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, to supporting the transitioning industry and workforce, and helping ensure that the benefits of energy-efficient and resilient buildings can be realized by all Americans. The resulting technical assistance initiatives will help address the needs of state and local governments, while enabling a clean, equitable, and sustained transition of America’s homes and businesses”. The DOE announcement provides additional information on the RFP as follows:
Supporting State & Local Governments
As building codes are ultimately adopted and implemented by state and local governments, BTO recognizes the need to partner with entities who are uniquely positioned to provide this technical assistance, and support DOE in addressing the range of critical factors. These include navigating national and regional building design and construction issues, responding to the needs of states and local communities, helping them update their codes and take advantage of the latest design and construction standards, and in communicating the benefits of modern building energy codes to their citizenry.
Key Topics
The RFP covers several topic areas supporting building energy codes and standards:

  • Stretch Codes
  • Building Performance Standards
  • Energy and Resilience Planning
  • Energy Justice
  • Energy Jobs and Workforce Development

Role of Building Energy Codes
The U.S. Government has established a target to achieve an economy-wide 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by 2030, and “deliver an equitable, clean energy future, and put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.“ (
Executive Order 14008) To achieve this goal, robust building energy efficiency policies, including strong building energy codes, are being prioritized at the federal level, as well as in states and communities across the nation. Studies have demonstrated that building energy codes are projected to save over $138 billion in consumer energy costs, and over 900 MMT in CO2 emissions. (PNNL 2021) However, these savings can only be realized with continued advancement of energy codes to incorporate the latest technologies and construction practices, and by supporting states and local governments, as well as the range of industry professionals, in successfully adopting and implementing these codes.
Where Can You Learn More?
For more information about this RFP, including key technical areas, application qualifications and requirements, and award specifications, please review
PNNL RFP 674611: Technical Assistance to Advance Building Energy Codes.
The BECS Committee and staff will be closely monitoring this activity specifically on how the direct use of natural gas fits in with the governments  established  “target to achieve an economy-wide 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by 2030, and “deliver an equitable, clean energy future, and put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.“”