Washington, D.C., June 26, 2012 — The Obama administration announced 36 new states, local governments, and school districts have joined President Obama's Better Buildings Challenge. These new commitments total nearly 300 million square feet in job-creating building energy upgrades, equivalent to more than 130 Empire State Buildings.
In addition, new public tax guidance issued today by the Department of the Treasury will make it easier for state and local governments to access more than $2 billion in existing low-cost financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through qualified energy conservation bonds. The bonds provide state and local governments with access to low-cost financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
"Making our public buildings and schools more energy efficient is one of the easiest ways to save taxpayer dollars," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Our new partners joining the Better Buildings Challenge today are paving the way to long-term benefits in their communities. These projects will reduce energy costs for local governments, support jobs across a range of industries, and help build an American economy that lasts."
The challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February 2011 by President Obama to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades.
The initiative is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness with the goal of making America's buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, which will help reduce energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy.
The first 14 challenge partners were announced at the Clinton Global Initiative's CGI America meeting last June. These announcements bring the total number of public and private sector partners to more than 100, and add $300 million in estimated investments in building energy upgrades to the nearly $4 billion in public and private sector financial commitments that were announced in December 2011.