Last year, commercial and industrial buildings used roughly 50% of the energy in the U.S. economy at a cost of over $400 billion. These buildings and operations can be made much more efficient using a variety of cost effective efficiency improvements while creating jobs and building a stronger economy. We have similar opportunities in our homes. In February 2011, President Obama, building upon the investments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, announced the Better Buildings Initiative to make commercial and industrial buildings 20% more energy efficient over the next 10 years and accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency. Better Buildings strategies include:
New Solutions from Market Leaders
The President is challenging CEOs, University Presidents, state and local government leaders, building owners, and multifamily organizations to commit their organizations to lead in saving energy, saving money, and showcasing the best energy saving strategies and their results. Partners commit to an energy savings pledge, a showcase building, and to share their progress.
Better Buildings Alliance
DOE and members from the commercial market are working to develop and deploy energy-saving technologies and solutions. The Alliance's 200+ members cover key market sectors: retail, food service, commercial real estate, hospitality, health care, higher education, and state and local building owners and managers.
Better Buildings, Better Plants
More than 120 industrial organizations are demonstrating their commitment to energy savings by signing a voluntary pledge to reduce energy intensity by 25% over ten years. Partners are implementing cost-effective energy efficiency improvements and collectively, are showing that good energy management practices are good for business, the economy, and the environment.
Better Buildings Case Competition
Tomorrow’s leaders compete to develop solutions and drive greater energy efficiency based on real scenarios, information, and data. Interdisciplinary student teams from universities across the United States have the opportunity to engage with industry partners, government agencies, and non-profits to solve real-world challenges.
Better Buildings Accelerators
Called for in the President's Climate Action Plan, Better Buildings Accelerators are designed to demonstrate specific innovative approaches in energy data, performance contracting, and utility strategic energy management, which upon successful demonstration will accelerate investment in energy efficiency.
Streamlined Financing & Incentives
A number of financial mechanisms are being explored, streamlined, and/or clarified to improve access and uptake. Progress has been made by updating the rules for the 179d tax deductions, and DOE is committed to working with Congress to help redesign the current deduction to a credit that is more generous and that will encourage building owners and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to retrofit their properties. The eligibility for Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) has also been clarified to make it easier for state and local governments to access and make available low cost financing.
A major barrier to greater efficiency in commercial buildings is investment-grade information for building owners and managers. Under the Better Buildings Initiative, several efforts are underway to improve the ability to assess the efficiency and energy costs of buildings and the investment opportunities in energy improvements.
Federal Government Leading by Example
President Obama challenged the federal government to complete $2 billion in federal building upgrades using long-term energy savings to pay for upfront costs, without use of taxpayer money. Federal agencies have now identified over $2 billion in energy upgrade projects and have already awarded over $400 million in construction contracts.
A skilled and qualified workforce is key to making American buildings more energy efficient and American companies more competitive. DOE is working closely with the commercial buildings industry and other Federal agencies to develop training tools, materials, and voluntary credentialing guidelines to advance different elements of the Better Buildings Workforce Framework.
Better Buildings Residential
DOE’s Better Buildings Residential programs work with residential energy efficiency programs and their partners to improve homeowners’ lives, the economy, and the environment by increasing the number of high-performing, energy-efficient existing homes in the United States. Organizations that engage with Better Buildings Residential are able to share best practices, access valuable resources, and expand the success of their residential energy efficiency programs.
Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center
The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is a robust collection of nearly 1,000 examples, strategies, and resources for residential energy efficiency programs. This one-stop shop helps program administrators and their partners plan, operate, and evaluate efficiency programs for existing homes through a series of handbooks containing step-by-step guidance and lessons learned.
Better Buildings Residential Network
The Better Buildings Residential Network connects energy efficiency programs and partners to share best practices and learn from one another to increase the number of homes that are energy efficient. Residential Network membership is open to all organizations that are committed to accelerating the pace of home energy upgrades.
Better Buildings Neighborhood Program
From 2010 to 2013, federal funding helped more than 40 competitively selected state and local governments develop sustainable programs to upgrade the energy efficiency of more than 100,000 buildings. These leading communities used innovation and investment in energy efficiency to expand the building improvement industry, test program delivery business models, create jobs, and saved consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.