New ‘Tenant Star’ Law to Spur Job Growth

Congress has passed an act expected to benefit the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants in energy savings and job growth.

Last week, Congress passed S.535, the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015,” which authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to jointly create a voluntary program that will provide national branding recognition to landlord and tenant teams that design, construct and operate highly energy efficient leased spaces in commercial buildings.

Known to many as the “Tenant Star” bill, the program is expected to become a market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption, save money and spur job growth.

Tenant Star was modeled after the ENERGY STAR program for whole buildings and will be the first government-endorsed label in the U.S. to recognize leased spaces within commercial buildings for sustainable design and operation.

“Broad adoption will save businesses billions of dollars on energy costs in the coming years and generate new American jobs in the energy efficiency field that cannot be exported,” Anthony Malkin, Empire State Realty Trust, Inc.’s chairman, president, CEO & chairman of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee, said in a statement.

Now, instead of putting all of the burden—or giving all of the credit—to building owners for energy efficiency efforts, the measure encourages tenants, who, in some buildings, consume more than half of the power used by the building, to take measures to save energy.

S.535 passed on a voice vote in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate, something rarely seen these days.

Among those praising the new law was the National Association of Realtors, who joined a coalition letter with other industry groups urging its passing.