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White House Announces $4 Billion Program For Building Retrofits

Empire State Building

A recent White House plan to drive $4 billion in building retrofits under its ‘Better Buildings Initiative’ could generate tens of thousands of construction jobs and spark growth in the green economy.

Although Obama’s track record when it come to promoting America’s green economy has left much to be desired over the course of his term, the new plan circumvents the need to get money out of a deadlocked Congress and already has widespread support from the private sector. And since the plan presents no-upfront costs to the government, taxpayers are not required to foot the bill.

The $4 billion figure can be broken down into two components: 2 billion for energy-efficiency upgrades for federal buildings and $2 billion for similar efforts from businesses, cities, and universities. Improvements for government buildings will come from private financing under an existing federal program.

A number of companies have already committed to the new Better Buildings Initiative, including 3M, Alcoa, Briggs and Stratton, and a host of others. Combined, the new program could increase energy efficiency in 1.6 billion square feet of commercial space, thus putting the US on track to achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

The government will pay for improvements to federal buildings through Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs), which shifts the initial upfront costs over to the private sector. The new energy efficiency equipment would be paid for over time through the energy costs saved on energy bills, with private sector contractors guaranteeing the savings.

Although the Better Buildings Initiative is still in its infancy, time will tell whether or not it will actually achieve the job growth and efficiency gains it purports.

Do you think the White House’s new $4 billion building retrofit project will achieve its goals? Do you think the Better Buildings Initiative is enough to achieve a 20 percent improvement in America’s energy efficiency by 2020?

Image CC licensed by Bernt Rostad: The Empire State Building has recently earned LEED Gold certification after its extensive green retrofit.

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