The business of creating jobs and leading our country to a cleaner and more prosperous future must continue even in the face of perpetual stalemate in Congress. President Barack Obama has found a way to continue leading on energy efficiency by using his executive power over federal agencies and he is getting help from a diverse coalition including commercial real estate developers, bankers, universities, and local governments, as well as partners as diverse as organized labor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this month the president announced a series of commitments under the Better Buildings Initiative, a historic public-private partnership that will leverage $4 billion in new investment for job-creating energy-efficiency upgrades to more than 4 billion square feet of public and private buildings over the next two years. These commitments will cut our nation’s energy use by 20 percent by 2020.
They will create jobs, too. Doing this work will create new demand for approximately 114,000 jobs in the building trades and domestically sourced construction materials at a time when the industry continues to suffer from near-depression levels of unemployment.
It will also be completed at zero cost to taxpayers by using energy savings to pay back upfront public investments in government buildings and leveraging private investment to jumpstart retrofits—energy-saving technologies that span everything from insulation and sealant to water heaters and solar panels—in commercial office buildings.
Altogether, this voluntary partnership—which brings together a wide range of organizations including federal agencies, labor unions, retailers, colleges, and hospitals, among others—will generate $1.4 billion in savings on energy costs for American businesses.
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