Friday, February 04, 2011

President's Better Buildings Initiative & Energy Efficiency Proposals

Feb 3: In his State of the Union, President Obama laid out his vision for "Winning The Future" by investing in innovative clean energy technologies and doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 [See WIMS 1/26/11]. Alongside that effort, the President is proposing new efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. In a release the White House said last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy. Improving energy efficiency in our buildings can create jobs, save money, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make our air cleaner.
    The President's "Better Buildings Initiative" is designed to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by "catalyzing private sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings." The White House said the initiative builds on investments already made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and the continued commitment to passing the President's proposed "HOMESTAR" legislation to encourage American families to make energy saving upgrades in their homes.
    The Administration outlined three critical elements of the plan: (1) Achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020: Under the President's plan, by 2020, it is proposed to make commercial building space in the United States 20 percent more energy efficient through cost-effective upgrades; (2) Reduce companies' and business owners' energy bills by about $40 billion per year: Making buildings more energy efficient will save business owners money by reducing their energy bills by about $40 billion at today's prices; and, (3) Save energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act: The President is calling for an aggressive reform of existing tax and other incentives for commercial building retrofits and proposing a new competitive grant program. In turn, he is asking corporate leaders to commit to making progress toward his energy goals.
    The President's Budget will propose to make American businesses more energy efficient through a series of new initiatives including: New tax incentives for building efficiency; More financing opportunities for commercial retrofits; "Race to Green" for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects; The Better Buildings Challenge; and Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers. The Administration also said the Better Buildings Initiative will complement the initiatives the President has already launched for government and residential buildings, including the $20 billion in funding for building energy efficiency in ARRA.
    The President has asked President Clinton, who he said has been a champion for this kind of energy innovation, to co-lead the private sector engagement in the Better Buildings Initiative along with the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, headed by Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric.
    The White House indicates that the initial response to the proposal "has already been overwhelmingly positive." They have posted some responses and links from: The Real Estate Roundtable; U.S. Green Building Council; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City; Building Owners and Managers Association International; Sheet Metal Workers' International Association; Window and Door Manufacturers Association; National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA); American Institute of Architects; Energy and Sustainability Services, Jones Lang LaSalle; The Center for American Progress; World Business Council for Sustainable Development; The Energy Future Coalition; and U.S. Green Building Council.
    Access a lengthy release from the White House with further details on the President's energy initiatives (click here). Access the White House blog posting on the early reaction to the Better Buildings Initiative and links to supporters (click here). Access the President's February 3, speech on Innovation delivered at Penn State University including many comments on energy efficiency and innovation (click here).
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