President Barack Obama has called for new efforts that could increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country by 20 percent by 2020 and save American businesses $40 billion a year.
The latest efforts follows Obama's recent State of the Union address, in which he has called for investing in innovative clean energy technologies and doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
Obama's Better Buildings Initiative will make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings.
Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy.
The President's initiatives are expected to focus on achieving a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 and reduce companies' and business owners' energy bills by about $40 billion per year.
In addition, the President calls for an aggressive reform of existing tax and other incentives for commercial building retrofits and proposing a new competitive grant program.
The President's Plan for Better Buildings
* The President is calling on Congress to redesign the current tax deduction for commercial building upgrades, transforming the current deduction to a credit that is more generous and that will encourage building owners and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to retrofit their properties. These changes could result in a ten-fold increase in commercial retrofit take up, leveraging job- creating investments.
* The plan calls for Small Business Administration to encourage existing lenders to take advantage of recently increased loan size limits to promote new energy efficiency retrofit loans for small businesses.
* The President's Budget will also propose a new pilot program through the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for energy efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.
* The Budget will propose new competitive grants to states and/or local governments that streamline standards, encouraging upgrades and attracting private sector investment.
* The President is challenging CEOs and University Presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy, which will save them money and improve productivity. They will in turn become eligible for benefits including public recognition, technical assistance, and best-practices sharing through a network of peers.
Obama plans to unveil the program on a visit Thursday to Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where he will tour labs at the University focused on advanced materials and energy-efficient building.