"Better Buildings Initiative" and "Innovation Cluster" Announced By President Obama [Updated] Obama's New "Better Buildings Initiative" Is Long Overdue, and Will Save Us Billions "Better Buildings Initiative" and "Innovation Cluster" Announced By President Obama [Updated] Obama's New "Better Buildings Initiative" Is Long Overdue, and Will Save Us Billions
Environment

"Better Buildings Initiative" and "Innovation Cluster" Announced By President Obama [Updated] Obama's New "Better Buildings Initiative" Is Long Overdue, and Will Save Us Billions

by Ben Jervey

February 5, 2011

[Updated with video of the talk: 2/8/2011] President Obama just wrapped up a speech at Penn State University where he announced the creation of a "Better Buildings Initiative" to incentivize weatherization and energy efficiency retrofitting for commercial buildings. This is good news considering that commercial buildings currently account for roughly 20 percent of the energy consumed in the whole of the U.S. economy.

The president emphasized that efficiency means less costly waste, and that the aim of the program would be to make commercial buildings 20 percent more efficient nationwide. This would reduce companies’ energy bills by about $40 billion a year, money that could be much better spent on hiring new employees and expanding business.

Here's the full, five-point plan (as outlined in the press release):

  • New tax incentives for building efficiency: Transform the current tax deduction to a more generous tax credit.
  • More financing opportunities for commercial retrofits: A new Department of Energy pilot program will offer loan guarantees for efficiency upgrades at schools, hospitals, and other commercial buildings. The Small Business Administration will also be working with lenders to raise limits on loans when they're designated for energy efficiency improvements.
  • Race to Green” for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects: Modeled after the "Race to the Top" competitive grant structure, the president's budget will offer grants to state or local governments who do the most to streamline building codes and standards for commercial energy efficiency, as local red tape is often the biggest hurdle.
  • The Better Buildings Challenge: The president is challenging CEOs of companies and presidents of universities to make their institutions more energy efficient. Technical assistance, public recognition, and other benefits will reward leaders who join the effort.
  • Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers: Launching a "Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership" modeled on the successful Manufacturing Extension Partnership in the Department of Commerce, and providing more "green collar" workforce training in energy auditing, building operations, and weatherization.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

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"Better Buildings Initiative" and "Innovation Cluster" Announced By President Obama [Updated] Obama's New "Better Buildings Initiative" Is Long Overdue, and Will Save Us Billions