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Obama Launches ‘Better Buildings Initiative’

Tax breaks, grants and loan guarantees will be among the initiatives in a plan President Obama will outline today, to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent in the next ten years.

The Better Building Initiative, to be outlined by President Obama today in a visit to Penn State University, would incentivize retrofitting with an aim of reducing companies’ energy bills by about $40 billion a year, the White House said.

The initiative applies to offices, stores, schools, universities, hospitals, and other commercial and municipal buildings.

Commercial building consumed about 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. last year, the White House said.

The five-point plan includes:

  • Tax incentives: The president is calling on Congress to reform the current tax deduction for commercial building upgrades, changing it to a more generous credit. The White House said these changes could lead to a ten-fold increase in commercial retrofits.
  • Financing: The president’s budget will propose a Department of Energy pilot program to guarantee loans for energy efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.
  • Streamlining incentives for state and municipal governments: Much of the power to alter codes and standards for commercial energy efficiency lies with states and localities, the White House said. The president’s budget will propose competitive grants to states or local governments, or both, to encourage them to streamline these standards.
  • The Better Buildings Challenge: The president will challenge CEOs and university presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy. Partners will commit to a series of actions to make their facilities more efficient, and will be eligible for technical assistance, and best-practices sharing through a peer network.
  • Other initiatives: Using existing authorities, the administration said it is working to institute a number of reforms, including improving transparency around energy efficiency performance and providing more workforce training in areas including energy auditing and building operations.

The Wall Street Journal noted that in a conference calls with reporters, administration officials would not say how much the program will cost.

They said further details on the program would appear in the president’s budget proposal, due out later this month.

Pictured: President Obama delivers the State of the Union address. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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5 thoughts on “Obama Launches ‘Better Buildings Initiative’

  1. This is good news. Energy-efficiency is the least expensive, most cost-effective new energy source by far, and these incentives will help to create good jobs.

  2. What the government needs to do is guarantee loans for wind and solar generation and make the utility companies buy the power that is created. This is a very simple solution to a major problem. You can build all the wind and solar farms you want but if the utilities won’t buy the power and the banks won’t finance them…….?????? Get it??/ that is why you don’t see them EVERYWHERE. We could be 100% sustainable and keep our money and jobs at home if the government would just make sure these two items are taken care of and watch green business GO!!!!

  3. I have a Concrete Plastic Unit (CPU) Building System. A stay in place sectional Clear PVC-U Wall Forming System for concret. The walls will withstand a magnitude 6 earthquake and a 2,200 lb. bomb blast. The System encapsulates the highly insulated Aerated Cellular
    Concrete in 1/8″ of clear Plastic The Plastic forms stay in place to protect the concrete, reinforcing and utilities that is waterproof.Using The CPU Construction system you can build a structure that is highly insulated, disaster resistant that is waterproof using only two products Concrete and Plastc. I cannot get the Department of Energy, the Department Of Defense or the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to even review it, because I am an individual.

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