On June 30th, the Department of Energy announced the Better Buildings Challenge, a public-private partnership that seeks large-scale commitments and provide financing and technical assistance for retrofitting thousands of commercial buildings. The Challenge is an offspring of the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Initiative, which was introduced in February 2011 to encourage private-sector investment in energy-efficient commercial building improvements.
According to DOE, the Challenge has already obtained commitments from 11 corporations and three cities to retrofit 300 million square feet of commercial, industrial, and governmental space, and has secured $575 million in financing for these retrofits. DOE will provide technical assistance, promote best practices, and publicly recognize partners for their efforts.
“Improving building energy efficiency on a large scale is a challenge we can’t afford not to take,” said Secretary Chu. “It will create jobs, reduce energy waste, save our businesses and institutions money, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
The three cities issuing the commitments are Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Seattle, which have collectively agreed to retrofit 47 million square feet of building space and leverage up to $30 million in financing to assist retrofit efforts of commercial property owners in their communities. The program also received commitments for green technology retrofits from a number of private companies including Best Buy, Green Sports Alliance, Land Lease, Transwestern, and USAA Real Estate.
“It will help put construction workers and contractors back to work and it will increase the production of energy-efficient products at U.S. manufacturing facilities. The first round of partners committing to the Better Buildings Challenge today are taking an important step to support job creation across the country,” said Laura Tyson, member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and professor of Global Management at UC Berkeley.
The Better Buildings Challenge aims to support President Obama’s goal of helping businesses save nearly $40 billion annually in energy costs, enabling them to grow, invest in new technology, and create American jobs. Investing in innovative clean energy technologies that make America’s commercial buildings more efficient will put Americans to work and save money by saving energy.