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Published on October 6th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

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Obama's Executive Order Enforces Smart Energy

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October 6th, 2009 by  

President Obama has just signed an Executive Order that compels the largest consumer of energy in the US economy to invest in energy efficiency improvements to get to huge reductions in energy use by 2020.

Every Federal agency must measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet specific targets by 2020. They have just 90 days to lay out a plan to meet these targets:

1. Use 30% less gas by 2020. Federal agencies buy 750,000 new vehicles every year. In normal times that’s almost 1 in every 17 vehicles sold per year. This Executive Order creates a rock-solid certain market for fuel-efficient vehicles every year from now till 2020.

2. Design all new government buildings from 2020 to be net-zero energy. Wow! Jimmy Carter might have gotten just a few solar panels up on merely one government building; The White House. But this means every new government building goes solar to cut fossil energy use to zero.

And they won’t just want solar power. They’ll need efficient windows, geothermal ground heat exchanges, efficient air conditioning, solar hot water heating, radiant flooring, tankless water heaters, great insulation… (and all this will take retrained architects, and doing that will take new classes, and those will need new instructors, who’ll need new suits…this is going to be a green jobs boom!)

How huge is this? Between all the Federal Agencies, from the Department of Defense to the Department of Justice, this involves almost 2 million Americans who collectively spend $500 billion every year.

While there’s not much even a president can do to force knuckledragging Senators to vote the way renewable energy voters might like them to on climate and energy, there are some powers available to the presidency, and President Obama uses them. Steven Chu at the DOE is one. He has turned the DOE into a renewable energy powerhouse. Lisa Jackson at the EPA is another. She seems to be shutting down dangerous polluters weekly.

Apparently the Executive Order can be a power for Good too.

Source: whitehouse.gov via The Washington Post

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • father_moray

    This must be the KoolAid Page for Entitled Obama Voters…they all need a few years in Gitmo to find out what is behind their cannibalization of America. End Maoist and Sorosian interference and invasion…death to Jihad.

    End Universal Suffrage for communists, welfare armies and felons. Obama promtes our nation’s enemies and prisoners to Czar roles. What a commie spitBowl.

    It will end when they refuse to leave…they will leave.

    Apparently 20% unemployement means nothing to surrendaCrats…debate over. End the Insanity and never, never allow these Maoist and Sorosian traitors to return.

  • father_moray

    This must be the KoolAid Page for Entitled Obama Voters…they all need a few years in Gitmo to find out what is behind their cannibalization of America. End Maoist and Sorosian interference and invasion…death to Jihad.

    End Universal Suffrage for communists, welfare armies and felons. Obama promtes our nation’s enemies and prisoners to Czar roles. What a commie spitBowl.

    It will end when they refuse to leave…they will leave.

    Apparently 20% unemployement means nothing to surrendaCrats…debate over. End the Insanity and never, never allow these Maoist and Sorosian traitors to return.

  • father_moray

    Apparently 20% unemployement means nothing to morons and surrendaCrats…debate over. End the Insanity and never, never allow these Maoist and Sorosian AzzFlies to return.

  • father_moray

    Apparently 20% unemployement means nothing to morons and surrendaCrats…debate over. End the Insanity and never, never allow these Maoist and Sorosian AzzFlies to return.

  • father_moray

    This must be the KoolAid Page for Ignorant Obama Voters…they all need a few years in Gitmo to find out what is behind their cannibalization of America. End Maoist and Sorosian interference and invasion…death to Jihad, you Obama AzzzPliers.

    End Universal Suffrage for communists, welfare armies and felons. Obama promtes our nation’s enemies and prisoners to Czar roles. What a commie spitBowl.

    It will end when they refuse to leave…they will leave.

  • father_moray

    This must be the KoolAid Page for Ignorant Obama Voters…they all need a few years in Gitmo to find out what is behind their cannibalization of America. End Maoist and Sorosian interference and invasion…death to Jihad, you Obama AzzzPliers.

    End Universal Suffrage for communists, welfare armies and felons. Obama promtes our nation’s enemies and prisoners to Czar roles. What a commie spitBowl.

    It will end when they refuse to leave…they will leave.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Charles: this Executive Order does means ALL and ANY technique to get there qualifies to reduce energy use.

    Every company that makes efficiency improvements needs to help out. Contact any government agency with what you do.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Charles: this Executive Order does means ALL and ANY technique to get there qualifies to reduce energy use.

    Every company that makes efficiency improvements needs to help out. Contact any government agency with what you do.

  • http://www.Utility-Savings.com Charles R. Toca

    Too bad he didn’t also mandate energy storage so solar electricity generated when the sun is shining can also be used when it’s dark. The way it is now, those government buildings will need coal/natural gas fired plants to cycle on and off to keep the lights on. I think the day is coming when we’ll understand that energy storage needs to be integrated with renewables (along with energy efficiency). Without an integrated approach, we will need more fossil fueled capacity to balance out solar/wind.

  • http://www.Utility-Savings.com Charles R. Toca

    Too bad he didn’t also mandate energy storage so solar electricity generated when the sun is shining can also be used when it’s dark. The way it is now, those government buildings will need coal/natural gas fired plants to cycle on and off to keep the lights on. I think the day is coming when we’ll understand that energy storage needs to be integrated with renewables (along with energy efficiency). Without an integrated approach, we will need more fossil fueled capacity to balance out solar/wind.

  • http://www.tanklessheaterguide.com P B

    Note that tankless water heaters may be a good alternative for businesses as well as homes. Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels, Motels, and more, all use TWH’s for the very large cost savings, being able to expense or depreciate the up-front costs. So if you have an in-home business, or you just want to make points with your boss by cutting expenses, keep that in mind.

  • http://www.tanklessheaterguide.com P B

    Note that tankless water heaters may be a good alternative for businesses as well as homes. Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels, Motels, and more, all use TWH’s for the very large cost savings, being able to expense or depreciate the up-front costs. So if you have an in-home business, or you just want to make points with your boss by cutting expenses, keep that in mind.

  • Susan Kraemer

    You are correct, tnrkitect I’d drilled down to the (no date given) summary: “Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;”

    I’ve corrected it.

  • Susan Kraemer

    You are correct, tnrkitect I’d drilled down to the (no date given) summary: “Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;”

    I’ve corrected it.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tnrkitect tnrkitect

    Your second point is misleading. In reading the actual Executive Order (from here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/2009fedleader_eo_rel.pdf ) It states that: “beginning in 2020 and thereafter, ensuring that all new Federal buildings that enter the planning process are designed to achieve zero-net-energy by 2030;”

    So, Net-Zero requirements are set to BEGIN in 2020 (Assuming the president(s) between now and then do not rescind the order.)

    Although I applaud this move, it could have been a lot more ambitious, and more in line with what you describe.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tnrkitect tnrkitect

    Your second point is misleading. In reading the actual Executive Order (from here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/2009fedleader_eo_rel.pdf ) It states that: “beginning in 2020 and thereafter, ensuring that all new Federal buildings that enter the planning process are designed to achieve zero-net-energy by 2030;”

    So, Net-Zero requirements are set to BEGIN in 2020 (Assuming the president(s) between now and then do not rescind the order.)

    Although I applaud this move, it could have been a lot more ambitious, and more in line with what you describe.

  • Susan Kraemer

    The ohs! and ahs! are relief, Russ.

    Only someone familiar with the bogged-down morass of our political system now – that prevents any real change happening, can understand.

    Using the Executive Order is the perfect way around that lobbyist-clogged bog.

  • russ

    Nice sound bite! Now for the easy part for Obama – for others to do something about it.

    I think Obama (forget Biden) is better than McCain/Palin for sure but Obama does announce things to grand fanfare! Kind of like McCain pointed out during the elections.

    There have been solar panels of various types on the White House every since Carter – replaced and renewed and added on to.

    If you go looking for information on what is happening in energy conservation on European web sites – forget it unless you want to pay.

    Info in the US is available to the world – generally free of charge.

    The only thing I see done in Europe is talk and blowing money on FIT’s they are now backing off from.

    Like normal though, the Cleantechnica groupies are there with all the ohs! and ahs! Not even necessary for many to read the article or think – just clap!

  • russ

    Nice sound bite! Now for the easy part for Obama – for others to do something about it.

    I think Obama (forget Biden) is better than McCain/Palin for sure but Obama does announce things to grand fanfare! Kind of like McCain pointed out during the elections.

    There have been solar panels of various types on the White House every since Carter – replaced and renewed and added on to.

    If you go looking for information on what is happening in energy conservation on European web sites – forget it unless you want to pay.

    Info in the US is available to the world – generally free of charge.

    The only thing I see done in Europe is talk and blowing money on FIT’s they are now backing off from.

    Like normal though, the Cleantechnica groupies are there with all the ohs! and ahs! Not even necessary for many to read the article or think – just clap!

  • Susan Kraemer

    The ohs! and ahs! are relief, Russ.

    Only someone familiar with the bogged-down morass of our political system now – that prevents any real change happening, can understand.

    Using the Executive Order is the perfect way around that lobbyist-clogged bog.

  • Matthew

    I am not a democrate but I love Obama! Rock on baby, keep up the great work on the environment and renewable energy and I will vote for you again!

    Let’s get green!

  • Matthew

    I am not a democrate but I love Obama! Rock on baby, keep up the great work on the environment and renewable energy and I will vote for you again!

    Let’s get green!

  • John

    Nice. Some positive steps in the right direction.

  • http://www.PlanetThoughts.org David – green thoughts

    Excellent news, and cheer-inducing. There is much more to do; hopefully the delay is simply doing the needed homework and concensus-building. The president of the US properly has limits to his/her powers, but to the extent Obama can use executive orders as a force for good, so much the better.

  • http://www.PlanetThoughts.org David – green thoughts

    Excellent news, and cheer-inducing. There is much more to do; hopefully the delay is simply doing the needed homework and concensus-building. The president of the US properly has limits to his/her powers, but to the extent Obama can use executive orders as a force for good, so much the better.

  • Charles Stewart Lee

    This is the best development so far.

    The EPA and DOE are doing great now.

    America focused on Greening its Economy can be THE world leader in smart, clean energy.

    Using soft power to regain the admiration of other countries too.

    Keep going President Obama, Stephan Chu , Lisa Jackson and Team!

  • Charles Stewart Lee

    This is the best development so far.

    The EPA and DOE are doing great now.

    America focused on Greening its Economy can be THE world leader in smart, clean energy.

    Using soft power to regain the admiration of other countries too.

    Keep going President Obama, Stephan Chu , Lisa Jackson and Team!

  • http://www.theclimatecommunity.com dan

    this is a very good step! great job….

  • http://www.theclimatecommunity.com dan

    this is a very good step! great job….

  • Put down the crack pipe!

    Can we please focus on clean energy developments without bashing those who believe that massive increases in federal spending might not be the greatest idea right now.

  • Put down the crack pipe!

    Can we please focus on clean energy developments without bashing those who believe that massive increases in federal spending might not be the greatest idea right now.

  • Bob

    Very Good! Now, two more items. First, mandate all states to put in place residential and small business solar systems. And second, create a long term feed in tarrif for renewables like Germany has had and Ontario has recently imposed. This will allow renewable energies to come to the forefront and stay. Let’s make the USA be the world leader in smart energy.

    Way to go, President OBama.

  • Bob

    Very Good! Now, two more items. First, mandate all states to put in place residential and small business solar systems. And second, create a long term feed in tarrif for renewables like Germany has had and Ontario has recently imposed. This will allow renewable energies to come to the forefront and stay. Let’s make the USA be the world leader in smart energy.

    Way to go, President OBama.

  • John

    Nice. Some positive steps in the right direction.

  • Ben

    YES! this is a great start!

    Don’t stop now, keep going Obama!

  • Ben

    YES! this is a great start!

    Don’t stop now, keep going Obama!

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