U.S. to invest $4 billion in energy upgrades

Federal and private sector energy upgrades will be given out over the next two years to pay for up-front costs as the President continues the initiative for greener buildings.


President Barack Obama and former President William J. Clinton, along with representatives from more than 60 organizations as part of the Better Buildings Challenge, have announced nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. This investment includes a $2 billion commitment, made through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings using long-term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at no cost to taxpayers. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) pushed for this action in its 2010 report that encourages using executive authority to achieve greener buildings.

“The Administration is tapping into tools already at its disposal to enhance the energy efficiency and sustainability of the nation’s multifamily and commercial buildings – all without seeking new funds or authority from Congress,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “By directing these funds to invest in high-performing energy efficient and sustainable buildings, the federal government will stimulate significant new “green” investments and job creation while saving taxpayer dollars, increasing energy security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and create healthier working environments.”

As the White House reports, “These investments will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.”

In addition, 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents and labor leaders committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects; and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20 percent by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings. This announcement builds on a commitment made by 14 partners at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting held in June to make energy upgrades across 300 million square feet, and to invest $500 million in private sector financing in energy efficiency projects.

“This announcement is another step toward the $130 billion a year we could save and nearly 1 million jobs we could create in the process if we had greener, more efficient buildings,” added Fedrizzi. “We continue to be committed to engaging our 16,000 USGBC members, our 170,000 LEED professional credential holders and our 79 chapters across the country to advance the Better Buildings Initiative and encourage the use of the LEED Green Building Program as a pathway to ensuring the immediate, measureable and proven results this challenge is meant to create.”

These investments are estimated to create 50,000 jobs in the hard-hit construction industry, a figure that could be increased by 114,000 through other components of the Better Buildings Initiative, according to a recent analysis released by The Real Estate Roundtable, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, www.csemag.com

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