DOE & EPA Program Cuts Among Topics in AIAVT-Leahy Staff Discussions

By Carol Miklos 

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office was the site of a recent visit by members of AIA Vermont’s Public Policy Committee who went to discuss three key federal legislation issues identified by AIA National as being critical to architects.  AIAVT Vice President Megan Nedzinski, AIA, Vermont Integrated Architecture; Marjorie Dickstein, AIA, Dore & Whittier Architects; and AIAVT Executive Director Carol Miklos met with Leahy Field Representative Chris Saunders to share concerns about the expiration of the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction and proposed cuts to Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy programs.

Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (Section 179D) provides building owners up to $1.80 per square foot for energy efficient improvements. It also helps federal, state, and local governments finance energy improvements that reduce energy costs to taxpayers. The Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction has been a useful financing tool in the market. But the tax deduction has now expired. After reaching out to our membership and learning of instances where the deduction has been beneficial, AIAVT was poised to ask Saunders to urge Leahy to help Congress pass a long-term extension of the Section 179D tax deduction and support common-sense fixes to make it work better.

“Here in Vermont, use of the deduction was critical to the Brooks House redevelopment project in Southern Vermont. These types of developments in historic town centers are very challenging to fund,” Nedzinski explained to Saunders. “The tax deduction would be extremely beneficial to a project such as Bennington’s Putnam Block Redevelopment project as well.”

AIAVT urged that the EPA be funded at sustainable levels. As architects, we are counting on continued support for Energy Star, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory, and the Indoor Air Quality Program, Nedzinski and Dickstein said. Software tools such as Portfolio Manager and Target Finder enable architects and their clients to track and benchmark the energy and water usage of their building asset portfolios.

With respect to the DOE, AIAVT explained that proposed budget cuts would threaten programs that support energy efficiency in buildings. The Building Technologies Office (BTO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), DOE support for codes development, and the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) administered by the Energy Information Administration have all contributed to major reductions in building energy use.

Near the close of the meeting Saunders asked if Senator Leahy could look to AIAVT for support in the future regarding the development of a local market for cross-laminated timber and for redevelopment initiatives in the city of Brattleboro. The AIAVT group assured Saunders that the organization would be pleased to bring its expertise to bear in any way that might be appropriate.

For more information about National’s position on these issues visit: and search on appropriate keywords.