From the Energyboom archives, based on an article by Joseph Baker on December 2, 2011. Updated and Expanded September 2021.
President Obama's $4 billion Energy Efficiency Funding
In December 2011, 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.
"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," said President Obama. "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."
"Investments in building retrofits and energy efficiency can make a real difference in the American economy, by creating jobs, growing our industries, improving businesses' bottom lines, reducing our energy bills and consumption, and preserving our planet for future generations," said President Clinton.
"I am proud the Clinton Foundation has been able to help develop and grow President Obama's Better Buildings Challenge, and that so many members of the Clinton Global Initiative have joined this Challenge. Working together, I am pleased the commitments to the BBC have grown from the initial $500 million and 300 million square feet that we announced in June at CGI America, to the $2 billion investment with over 1 billion square feet of retrofitted space that we are announcing today."
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 companies 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 .
"The Better Buildings initiative has all the components to make a real difference - it will create profitable investment opportunities for worker pension funds, create badly needed good jobs, increase America's competitiveness around energy savings, and address the dangers of climate change," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
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."
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 2021 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 announcing 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."