Obama to Announce Major Energy-Efficiency Initiative for Commercial Buildings
February 3, 2011

President Obama is expected to unveil later today a "Better Buildings Initiative" with a goal of making commercial buildings 20-percent more energy-efficient by 2020 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.

This new commercial component initiative builds on investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the proposed HOMESTAR legislation that encourages energy saving upgrades in homes.

During a speech taking place this afternoon at Penn State University, the President is expected to propose to make American businesses more energy-efficient through a series of five new initiatives:

  1. New tax incentives for building efficiency: The President is calling on Congress to redesign the current tax deduction for commercial building upgrades, changing the current deduction to a credit that is more generous and that will encourage building owners and real estate investment trusts to retrofit their properties. These changes could result in a ten-fold increase in commercial retrofit take up, leveraging job-creating investments.
  2. More financing opportunities for commercial retrofits: To address gaps in access to financing, the Small Business Administration is working 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.
  3. "Race to Green" for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects: The President's budget will propose new competitive grants to states and/or local governments that streamline standards, encouraging upgrades and attracting private sector investment.
  4. The Better Buildings Challenge: The President is challenging CEOs and university presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy, which will save them money and improve productivity. Partners will commit to a series of actions to make their facilities more efficient. They will in turn become eligible for benefits including public recognition, technical assistance and best-practices sharing through a network of peers.
  5. Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers: Using existing authorities, the administration is working to implement a number of reforms, including improving transparency around energy efficiency performance, launching a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership modeled on the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Commerce and providing more workforce training in areas such as energy auditing and building operations.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more information on the initiative and its potential impact on the glass industry.

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