President Obama Doubles Down on Better Buildings

What a difference leadership makes. Today, President Obama has taken significant action once again to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of better buildings. If there's one sector where it makes sense to do more and do it faster, it's in our buildings, and I applaud the president for seeing the same opportunity in buildings that we see.

We know buildings account for 40 percent of our energy use, 71 percent of our electricity use and 40 percent of our climate emissions. But at USGBC we've been showing the world how better buildings can make a huge difference in solving our energy and climate challenges. The 20,000+ LEED green commercial buildings and the more than 100,000 residential projects across the country are saving energy, saving water, improving indoor air quality while also saving businesses and homeowners money and helping communities create jobs.

The actions the president has taken today are a big deal. They will help accelerate green building all across the country. Through executive leadership, the president has opened the door for an additional $2 billion in energy efficiency investments in federal buildings. We can't underemphasize the importance of the president's decision to double down on energy efficient federal buildings. The president has effectively transformed the vast government building stock into an economic engine. These no-upfront cost investments, which rely on the ESPC model, will create new jobs and save taxpayers money. It's a tried-and-true solution for efficiency in the federal government, and something former President Clinton has long called the closest thing we have to a "free lunch."

President Obama has also helped spark a fire in the private sector through his Better Buildings Initiative, launched in 2010. As part of today's announcement, the president has enlisted hundreds of new public and private partners (many of which are longstanding members of USGBC) to join the Better Buildings Challenge, which is focused on improving the efficiency of commercial, institutional, and multifamily buildings and industrial plants by 20 percent or more over 10 years. More than 300 multifamily housing homebuilder and home improvement organization, rural electric cooperative, commercial sector (including retailers, food service and hospitality), and public sector (including states, cities, school districts) organizations have made commitments.

But the president didn't stop there. The announcement includes several actions to accelerate solar in our homes, businesses and schools; improve appliance efficiency, strengthen building codes; and facilitate new financing mechanisms the will make investing in these technologies easier.

So I'll say it again, what difference does leadership make? Well, it makes all the difference. And it's wonderful to recognize the leadership we've seen on display today -- from the president and his White House team to the businesses, companies, nonprofits, cities and other stakeholders who stepped up and dedicated themselves to better buildings.