Last week, American President Barack Obama touted the benefits of green building with his “Better Buildings Initiative,” a plan to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings over the next decade. Citing the statistic that commercial buildings consumed over 20 percent of all energy in the US last year alone, the President outlined a plan to make these buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade. Buildings ready for energy upgrades include offices, retail, schools and universities, municipal buildings and other commercial buildings.
Funding for these initiatives will come from the private sector and builds on investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The President has already committed over $20 billion in funding building energy efficiency initiatives through ARRA. This initiative calls for tax incentives for commercial building upgrades and retrofits as well as loans for energy efficiency upgrades for hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.
Most importantly, the initiative will spur job growth, something that has been lagging as the rest of the economy recovers. "For all of those committed to the idea that green buildings can create jobs, save energy and save money, this is a great day, and the entire green building movement is incredibly grateful for President Obama's leadership in this critical step forward for America. It is major steps like these that are necessary to address the challenges facing our environment," said USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi in a statement. "We know that green buildings can and should be front and center of any credible jobs creation program. The jobs supported by the green building industry can't be outsourced, and they are jobs that frequently can build on skills learned in the manufacturing sector."
Johnson Controls, a leading producer of energy efficient solutions for commercial buildings supports the initiative. "Our global surveys of commercial building owners have indicated that access to capital is one of the top barriers to pursuing commercial retrofits, so we applaud the Administration's focus on making capital more accessible,” said C. David Myers, vice president of Johnson Controls, in a statement. "As part of his remarks today, the President referenced the retrofit of the Empire State Building, a Johnson Controls project that will lead to a 38% reduction in the building's energy use when completed. Through commercial retrofits like the Empire State Building, we can make a measurable impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs for commercial buildings while creating local-market jobs."
Republicans are expected to hate this initiative, probably citing the Constitution/Ayn Rand /Jesus in their opposition statement.
Source: White House, USGBC, Johnson Controls