After pouring billions of stimulus dollars into “greening” federal facilities, the White House now wants to spur similar upgrades to commercial buildings, which account for 20% of total U.S. energy consumption. President Obama’s newly proposed “Better Buildings Initiative” includes tax, lending and grant provisions to encourage private owners to install energy-efficiency improvements in their existing buildings. Federal agencies can carry out some of the new steps on their own, but others will require convincing a more heavily Republican Congress to approve them.
The plan, announced on Feb. 3, aims to make commercial buildings 20% more energy efficient in 10 years. If the proposals become reality, Obama says businesses could save nearly $40 billion in energy costs per year.