NEMA ei June 2017 - 4


Rep. Matt Cartwright
Democratic representative from

Looking Ahead: the Importance of Building Systems


erving the American people as a member of
Congress is an important lesson in the concept
of systems. After all, every American schoolchild
is taught that our government is a system of
checks and balances, of which Congress is an
essential part. Systems-based thinking is also
an important part of lawmaking, as successfully
addressing issues involving healthcare, the
economy, and the environment requires a broad,
systems-based approach.
Of course, systems-based thinking is hardly
unique the government. A common application
in the private sector is in construction. Buildings
are made up of systems: electrical, plumbing,
heating, and more. When creating the electrical
system, it isn't enough
to understand how all
the components work
individually. You have
to understand how they
work together as a system.

Congressman Matt Cartwright
represents Pennsylvania's 17th
Congressional District. He serves on the
House Committee on Appropriations
and the Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform.





June 2017

Taking one step back,
the building is not only
made up of multiple
systems, but it can be
considered a system itself
with multiple subsystems.
You can't just understand
how the electrical system
works in isolation; you
have to understand how it
works with the plumbing
system, the heating
system, and everything
else. You could step back
even further and ask
how the construction of
a building is part of an
even bigger, overarching

This isn't just an academic exercise: there are
important systemic factors that influence the
construction of buildings well before the idea for
any one particular building is even conceived.
A huge variety of standards and codes are
relevant to the built environment, including
those developed by the National Electrical
Manufacturers Association.
The process of standard setting is fairly
decentralized. In many ways, this system has
served America well, but it is always worth asking
whether improvements can be made. One topic I
have focused on in this respect is climate change.
Are standard-setting bodies thinking about
future climate changes, or are they only looking at
historical data?
I asked the Government Accountability Office
to look into this question, and they found that
while some organizations have tried to use
forward-looking climate projections when setting
standards, many have had trouble doing so. This is
not surprising. It can be very difficult to translate
data and projections used by climate scientists into
a form that is helpful for standard-setting bodies.
However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Our
children will thank us tomorrow if we future-proof
our standards today.
Fortunately, the federal government already
employs scientists who address this problem.
That is why I introduced HR 1464, the NIST
Success Act. This bill would task the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),
in partnership with climate experts, with helping
standard-setting bodies identify and use relevant
climate change information. NIST would also help
coordinate the participation of federal agencies in
the standard-setting process.
The end result is that we will have more resilient
standards for the built environment and across
the private sector. When, for example, we want a
building to be able to withstand a 50-year flood, we
can be more confident that it will be able to handle
the kinds of floods coming in the next 50 years, not
those that came in the last 50. At a time when we
are looking at climate change, this task could not
be more essential. ei


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NEMA ei June 2017

Comments from the Chairman
Electric News
Looking Ahead for Building Systems
Adding Value through ESPCs
Energy Benchmarking Equals Energy Savings
Case Studies: NEMA Members Go Big on Innovation
Shining a Light on PV Wire
Code & Standards
Business Analytics
NEMA ei June 2017 - Cover1
NEMA ei June 2017 - Cover2
NEMA ei June 2017 - 1
NEMA ei June 2017 - 2
NEMA ei June 2017 - Comments from the Chairman
NEMA ei June 2017 - Views
NEMA ei June 2017 - Electric News
NEMA ei June 2017 - Looking Ahead for Building Systems
NEMA ei June 2017 - Adding Value through ESPCs
NEMA ei June 2017 - Energy Benchmarking Equals Energy Savings
NEMA ei June 2017 - 9
NEMA ei June 2017 - Case Studies: NEMA Members Go Big on Innovation
NEMA ei June 2017 - 11
NEMA ei June 2017 - 12
NEMA ei June 2017 - 13
NEMA ei June 2017 - 14
NEMA ei June 2017 - 15
NEMA ei June 2017 - 16
NEMA ei June 2017 - 17
NEMA ei June 2017 - Shining a Light on PV Wire
NEMA ei June 2017 - 19
NEMA ei June 2017 - Advocacy
NEMA ei June 2017 - Code & Standards
NEMA ei June 2017 - 22
NEMA ei June 2017 - International
NEMA ei June 2017 - Business Analytics
NEMA ei June 2017 - Spotlight
NEMA ei June 2017 - Cover4