WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday announced nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private-sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. These investments will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.
As many as 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders on Friday committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects; and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion sq. ft. of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings. This included retailers Best Buy, Kohl's, Supervalu and Walgreens, which made the commitment in June.
The commitments were announced by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, along with representatives from more than 60 organizations as part of the Better Buildings Challenge. The challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative, launched in February by President Obama, and is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to support job creation by catalyzing private-sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20% more efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20% of all the energy used by the U.S. 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," Obama said. Coupled with a $2 billion in energy efficiency upgrades across all federal agencies "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,” Obama said.
“Reducing our energy footprint and creating a more thoughtful and sustainable operation are important priorities, and we will continue to test innovative ways to build our stores with future generations in mind,” Supervalu president and CEO Craig Herkert said. “These projects are good for the environment, improve our operating efficiency and create jobs — ultimately benefiting the communities we serve.”