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Last Updated August 21, 2018

Program Overview


Regulatory Policy



Incentive Type:

Energy Standards for Public Buildings



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Expiration Date:


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Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:



The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) established several goals and standards to reduce energy use in existing and new federal buildings. Executive Order 13423, signed in January 2007, expanded on those goals and standards and was later reaffirmed by congress with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007). EISA 2007 extended an existing federal energy reduction goal to 30% by fiscal year 2015; directed federal agencies to purchase Energy Star and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated products; and required new federal buildings to be built 30% below ASHRAE* standards or the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). 

Several Executive Orders, signed under previous administrations created certain requirements aimed at increasing the sustainability of all federal agencies. An Executive Order signed in March 2015 (13693) revoked the prior Executive Orders, and an Executive Order signed in May 2018 (13834) revoked that Executive Order. The May 2018 Executive Order references the statutory requirements and directs Federal agencies to manage their buildings, vehicles, and overall operations to optimize energy and environmental performance, reduce waste, and cut costs.

Energy Efficiency Goals

Section 431 of EISA 2007 increased the federal energy reduction goal from 2% per year (as established by EPAct 2005) to 3% per year, resulting in 30% greater efficiency by 2015. The reporting baseline for energy savings is 2003, so that energy consumption per gross square foot of federal buildings is reduced, compared to energy consumption in 2003. The specified percentage reductions for each fiscal year are:

  • FY 2006 .......2%
  • FY 2007 .......4%
  • FY 2008 .......9%
  • FY 2009 .......12%
  • FY 2010 .......15%
  • FY 2011 .......18%
  • FY 2012 .......21%
  • FY 2013 .......24%
  • FY 2014 .......27%
  • FY 2015 .......30%

Under EPAct 2005, federal agencies are permitted to retain savings achieved through energy and water reductions. Executive Order 13693 adopted new reduction targets for years after FY 2015, requiring federal buildings to achieve a 2.5% reduction in consumption annually. This provision was revoked in May 2018 by Executive Order 13834.

Equipment Efficiency Requirements

Section 104 of EPAct 2005 directed federal agencies to purchase Energy Star and FEMP-designated products when procuring energy-consuming items covered by the Energy Star program, except when purchasing such items is not cost-effective or does not meet functional requirements of the agency. Agencies must also incorporate energy-efficient specifications in procurement bids and evaluations, and must only purchase premium efficient electric motors, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. EPAct 2005 also instructed the General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Defense to clearly identify and display Energy Star and FEMP-designated products in any inventory, catalog or product listing. 

Building Requirements

Section 109 of EPAct 2005 required new federal buildings to be designed 30% below ASHRAE standards or IECC, to the extent that technologies employed are life-cycle cost-effective. In addition, sustainable design principles must be applied to new and replacement buildings. All agencies must identify new building projects in their budget requests and identify those that meet or exceed the standard. The General Services Administration announced an even stricter requirement in their FY 2010-2015 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, stating that all new federal buildings will be designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, and meet Energy Star standards.

Use of Solar Water Heating

Section 523 of the EISA 2007 requires that at least 30% of the hot water demand for each new federal building or existing federal buildings undergoing a major renovation be met through the use of solar hot water heating, if it is determined to be life-cycle cost-effective.

In addition to these requirements for building performance, the federal government also has green power purchasing goals for the federal government, whereby the 20% of electricity used by federal agencies must be obtained from renewable sources by 2020. 

* ASHRAE is the acronym for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.