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Obama’s Better Buildings Bonanza! (Video, Facts, & More)


better buildings

1st definition of “bonanza” in Merriam-Webster dictionary: “an exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit (as of an ore, precious metal, or petroleum).” OK, it’s a stretch, but who doesn’t love alliteration?! And, seriously, the Better Buildings initiative the Obama administration and former president Bill Clinton just launched is going to save the country some serious money, and is going to keep a lot of fossil fuels in the ground.. where they belong!

better buildings initiative

2nd definition of bonanza: “something that is very valuable, profitable, or rewarding.” Take a look at the numbers below and see what you think.

Some details on the initiative:

  • The U.S. government will put $2 billion into retrofitting federal buildings in order to make them more efficient. (For anyone who knows anything about energy efficiency, this is clearly going to save the government a huge boatload of cash in the long run.)
  • Over 60 companies, organizations, institutions, universities, mayors, governors, and union leaders have signed on to the Better Buildings energy efficiency program and will invest another $2 billion. These energy efficiency leaders (who can, apparently, do simple math) are planning to cut energy use in their buildings by 20-25% by 2020.
  • Businesses are projected to save a total of about $40 billion a year from the energy savings from this initiative.
  • Tens of thousands of jobs are estimated to be produced from the initiative. (Or, 114,000 if the full initiative is implemented, according to a study by the independent Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and supported by the Real Estate Roundtable and U.S. Green Buildings Council. But that would require some legislative action.)

“Upgrading the energy efficiency of America’s buildings is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, cut down on harmful pollution and create good jobs right now. But we can’t wait for Congress to act. And, if they won’t act, I will,” said Obama. “So today, I’m directing all federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next 2 years – at no up-front cost to the taxpayer.”

The Better Buildings initiative is part of Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign, which is a campaign to find ways to go around an unhelpful Congress in creating or stimulating jobs across the U.S. Obama is still pushing for Congress to pass a large jobs bills, but until a breakthrough occurs in Congress, his administration has to find other ways to drive that job growth.

As Obama and Clinton both note, investment in energy efficiency is one of the greatest job creators out there. (And it’s also one of the best things we can do to address global warming.) Why Republicans in Congress won’t get behind it… well, we all have our theories (mine is that their #1 goal is not to help the country, but one of the following: to make Obama a one-term president; or to do everything they can to help the rich get rich, even if that means holding the U.S. hostage).

More from Obama (in text):

It is a trifecta, which is why you’ve got labor and business behind it.  It could save our businesses up to $40 billion a year on their energy bills – money better spent growing and hiring new workers.  It would boost manufacturing of energy-efficient materials.  And when millions of construction workers have found themselves out of work since the housing bubble burst, it will put them back to work doing the work that America needs done.  So this is an idea whose time has come.

And from the White House’s press release:

 This announcement builds on a commitment made by 14 partners at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June to make energy upgrades across 300 million square feet, and to invest $500 million in private sector financing in energy efficiency projects.

In a move the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recognized as critical to job creation, today’s Presidential Memorandum calls for fully implementing existing federal authority to utilize Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) in order to promote energy efficiency and create new jobs. Under the ESPC program, new energy efficient equipment is installed at Federal facilities at no up-front cost to the government. The cost of the improvements is paid for over time with energy costs saved on utility bills, and the private sector contractors guarantee the energy savings.

When you get the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, greenies, and the heads of numerous cities, states, companies, and universities behind something, you know you’ve got a big win-win-win initiative.

More info on the initiative and initial partners is available via the White House.

Your thoughts?


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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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