Today, President Obama, joined by former President Bill Clinton, announced $4 billion in combined private and federal funds to be invested in upgrades to commercial buildings over the next two years.
As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents and labor leaders committed to invest almost $2 billion of private capital in energy efficiency projects. Among the company's who pledged funding were Abundant Power which committed $100 million, Ygrene Energy Fund, which also committed $100 million, and Metrus Energy which increased its commitment from $50 million to $75 million .
Abundant Power CEO Shannon Smith commended the President for spearheading this energy efficiency initiative and the opportunity it presents to create new jobs saying, "This commitment comes at a time when America more than ever needs job creation, to save scarce financial resources, and to increase our own energy security, and enables us to be part of creating a better world."
The private sector funding will be matched by a $2 billion fund made through a Presidential Memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings. The White House was clear to point out that the funds will be made available through long term energy savings to pay for up-front costs and will not be tapped from taxpayers.
In fact, the President believes the Challenge will stimulate the economy by both creating new jobs and also lowering energy costs for American Businesses. The Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative (BBI) which was launched by President Obama in February.
Led by former President Bill Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the BBI seeks to improve building energy efficiency by 20% by 2020 and by doing so will save US businesses $40 billion a year. According to a statement released by the White House, in 2010 commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy.
Before annoucing the new funding commitments to energy efficiency the President highlighted the country's job growth in November saying, "this morning we learned that our economy added another 140,000 private sector jobs in November, the unemployment rate went down and despite some strong head winds we have added over a 500,000 new jobs in the last four months."
Creating jobs is a major focus for President Obama. To him, programs like the Better Buildings Challenge represent a significant opportunity to grow the economy.
“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. 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. Coupled with today’s extraordinary private sector commitments of $2 billion to upgrade businesses, factories, and military housing, America is taking another big step towards the competitive, clean energy economy it will take to win the future.”
Image Credit: Sakeeb Sabakka via Flickr
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