Posts Tagged ‘obama’

Energy Efficient Buildings: We Don’t Have to Wait

December 8th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Big savings. REALLY big.

$4 billion investment = $40 billion savings is estimated from the Better Buildings Challenge. That isn’t just savings, it’s Sumo sized savings resulting from a nationwide 20% cut to energy usage in existing buildings.

Through a public-private partnership, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton last Friday announced a $4 billion commitment to increasing energy efficiency in the nation’s government and commercial buildings. Despite the US Department of Energy’s share being roughly half, there will be no upfront cost to taxpayers.

With deadlocked Supercommittee-itis cramping the Obama administration’s style, at least we can hold hands over one thing: saving money on inefficient buildings’ energy use. Or as Huffington Post commenter and USGBC Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi put it: “for one moment we found something we can all agree on.”

Barack Obama, Bill Clinton

President Barack Obama (R), and former President Bill Clinton (L)

“If there’s one item on the energy agenda that’s managed to remain free of controversy, it’s energy efficiency,” proclaimed SmartPower owner Brian Keane in the Huffington Post this week. The investment is part of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” measures, or initiatives aimed at spurring the economy that don’t require Congress’ stamp of approval.

We can’t wait, indeed, for energy savings – nor do we have to.

As part of the program, 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders have committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects. The $40 billion in savings is the projected result of upgrading energy performance nationwide – 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings for those of you keeping track at home – by a minimum of 20% by 2020.

Big-time San Francisco firms such as Ygrene Energy Fund and Metrus Energy backed the announcement, showing their support as the kind of companies willing to step up and foot the bill on the other $2 billion. Of course, they will then reap some serious savings…

The Obama Administration is clear on how its not using taxpayer dollars for the initial investment, reported the Washington Post:

“The way it works is that the private firm [doing the renovations] takes the risk here,” Jeffrey Zients, the government’s chief performance officer, said. “They make the investment. They are paid through energy savings. Once they are paid back, the [federal government] enjoys the savings going forward.”

The Better Buildings Challenge is estimated to add approximately 50,000 jobs.

The announcement expands on an existing Clinton Global Initiative energy efficiency investment program announced last summer, that has already committed $500 million in private sector funding for energy upgrades.

Kinda trippy how Pike Research just issued that report last week predicting that HVAC systems will double to become a $6.4 billion business by 2017.

Image courtesy newsone.

The Better Buildings Initiative

February 9th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Last week, the Obama administration announced an initiative to boost energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The “Better Buildings Initiative” calls to reform tax incentives for commercial building retrofits and create a competitive grant program to further incentivize energy efficiency.

Speaking at Penn State University, Obama said, “Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America.”

We, of course, couldn’t agree more. We may be biased (because BuildingAdvice finds energy savings opportunities in existing buildings), but focusing on making existing buildings more efficient also just makes sense: When there are already 5 million commercial buildings in the U.S. and most have at least 30% energy savings opportunities possible, why would we (as an industry, a country) attack this first?

In an effort to increase financing opportunities for small businesses looking to improve their energy efficiency, the Small Business Administration is working with lenders to promote energy efficiency retrofit loans. In combination with new tax incentives for building efficiency, increased financing opportunities could lead to an uptick in interest in retrofitting existing buildings.

In addition to cutting energy use 20% by 2020, the new initiatives also aim to reduce the energy bills of building owners by $40 billion per year.

So, what could this mean for you?

If you’re a contractor, financing opportuities for your clients mean a great likelihood that service and projects will go fowrad. Of course, this requires that you actually have energy service offerings.

If you’re a building owner or manager, you will soon be able to find more ways to finance investments you want to make that will lead to lower costs and higher-value buildings.

Energy Efficiency and the Elections: Not So Much

November 4th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

“…election results at the national and state levels were largely stark for those focused on renewable energy and efficiency…”

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Portland

So wrote Kyle Alspach for MHT Mass High Tech in his coverage of  the Sixth Annual Conference on Clean Energy at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center Nov. 3. Martin LaMonica chimed in for cnet, so it must be true. Many agree that energy efficiency initiatives are only likely to thrive at the state and local levels in the newly shifted political environment.

The remaining post-elections energy news took on a broader view take of the implications of the elections overall, but little old Portland, Ore. – where BuildingAdvice is based – got a little 15 minutes in a Washington Times editorial titled “A vote against the left-wing agenda.” Pictured is outbound Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi with a caption on her August visit to the City of Roses in connection with Clean Energy Works Portland, a pilot program that is helping up to 500 qualified Portland homes finance and install energy efficiency upgrades. (As you may not know, Clean Energy Works’ commercial component did not receive anticipated funding last summer, so the program remains largely residential).

The editorial, however, has nothing to do with Clean Energy Works Portland.

In the wake of the still-tallying ballot casting, much is being made of the Republican control of the House of Representatives and the GOP picking up several seats in the Senate, and the implications on cap-and-trade and The Climate Bill That Was. A few highlights:

Kirsten Korosec, blogger, CBS

Kirsten Korosec, "Carbon Based" blogger for CBS

“It will be more about protecting fossil fuel-based businesses and stripping away federal agency powers than a direct assault on clean energy.”

  • In California, the defeat of Proposition 23 marked popular support for the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32, the strongest clean energy law in the nation, “even if it means higher energy bills and prices at the pump,” wrote in “The morning after: What the election results mean for energy.” Quoting Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, the article asserts the one bit of good news for environmental issues from the Nov. 2 elections:

San Franciscans protesting Proposition 23

“Millions of voters said they see clean energy jobs as the path forward through a tough economic climate. That sends a strong message far beyond California. Voters asked their leaders to chart a future toward clean energy, less pollution, and less dependence on imported oil. Congress should pay attention.”

  • As Green, the New York Times blog on energy and environment, put it, “At the global climate change conference in Copenhagen last December, President Obama pledged to cut United States emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 — if he could get Congress to pass climate and energy legislation, that is.The task proved impossible even with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.”

Images courtesy City on a Hill Press, The Washington Times/Associated Press, and CBS