More than 20 corporations commit to Better Buildings Challenge

Building on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that more than 20 new partners have committed to improving energy efficiency across their respective building portfolios by 20 percent during the next 10 years. These new partners, including the six multifamily partners announced by the White House, bring with them fresh perspective and leadership in newly represented sectors, spanning more than 70 million square feet of fast-food, restaurant, manufacturing, university and government facilities. As leaders in energy efficiency, partners will work with the DOE to share their successful efficiency strategies and help pave the way for other organizations to follow.

The Better Buildings Challenge supports the Administration’s goal of doubling American energy productivity by 2030 while motivating corporate and public sector leaders across the country to save energy through commitments and investments. More than 250 organizations are partnering with the Department of Energy to achieve 20 percent portfolio-wide energy savings and share successful strategies that maximize efficiency over the next decade. Across the country, Better Buildings Challenge partners are deploying energy efficiency projects at more than 9,000 facilities, with more than 2,100 buildings improving efficiency by least 20 percent, and another 4,500 by at least 10 percent, compared with their baseline years. The following partners and other organizations joining the Better Buildings Challenge will work with the DOE to achieve portfolio-wide energy savings:

  • AHEAD Inc., Littleton, N.H., commits 190,000 square feet of multifamily housing
  • Arby’s Restaurant Group, Atlanta, commits more than 2.5 million square feet as a food service partner
  • Bank of America, San Francisco, commits $1.5 billion as a financial ally
  • Celanese Corp., Irving, Texas, commits eight manufacturing plants
  • Chesapeake Community College, Wye Mills, Md., commits 320,000 square feet
  • City of Philadelphia commits 15 million square feet of building floor space
  • CKE Restaurants Holdings, Carpinteria, Calif., commits more than 2.5 million square feet as a food service partner
  • Commercial Power Partners, Los Angeles, commits $50 million as a financial ally
  • Community Investment Corp., Chicago, commits $25 million as a financial ally
  • Facebook, Menlo Park, Calif., commits 10 data centers
  • Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Fla., commits 3 million square feet as a higher education partner
  • Gragg Cardona Partners, Washington, D.C., commits 49,000 square feet of multifamily housing
  • Holcim (US) Inc. Bedford, Mass., commits 12 manufacturing plants
  • Housing Authority of the Birmingham District, Birmingham, Ala., commits 3 million square feet of multifamily housing
  • King County, Seattle, Wash., commits more than 5.5 million square feet of building floor space
  • Las Vegas Sands Corp. commits more than 19.5 million square feet as a hospitality partner
  • Newark Housing Authority, Newark, N.J., commits more than 1 million square feet of multifamily housing
    •PACE Equity, Milwaukee, commits $25 million as a financial ally
    •Parkway Properties, Orlando, Fla., commits 18 million square feet of commercial real estate
  • Rockwell Finance, Centennial, Colo., commits $25 million as a financial ally
  • Structured Finance, Los Angeles, commits $150 million as a financial ally
  • The DeBruler Co., Libertyville, Ill., commits 700,000 square feet of multifamily housing
  • The JBG Companies commits 12.5 million square feet of commercial real estate
  • Windsor Locks Housing Authority, Windsor Locks, Conn., commits 72,000 square feet of multifamily housing

Executive actions to increase support for renewables and energy efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced a slew of executive actions that will increase support for renewables and energy efficiency. Specifically, the DOE’s directives are aimed at improving energy efficiency standards and building codes for new commercial construction. The new codes and standards are purported to save consumers nearly $450 billion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2 billion metric tons through 2030. See this fact sheet for more details

White House is reviewing a proposed new carbon pollution standard.

The White House is currently reviewing a new carbon pollution standard proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that would leverage energy efficiency policies to reduce carbon dioxide levels, purportedly at no cost to the economy. The proposal is backed by a study by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy that shows how adopting a set of key policies – setting annual efficiency targets of 1.5 percent, implementing national building codes, investing in combined heat and power, and adopting five standards for appliances – would increase gross domestic product by $17.2 billion and create 611,000 new jobs by 2030. For full report can be found here.

GSA Green Proving Ground Program.

The General Services Administration introduced the  “GSA Green Proving Ground Program.” The GSA being the largest building owner in

the US (9,148 owned or leased buildings) was recently required to achieve energy conservation and sustainable targets, such as a 30% EUI (Energy Use

Index) by 2015. This effort can also be seen in the recently revised GSA P100 document entitled “Performance Based Facilities Standards,” a document which

is used as part of the design and construction of GSA buildings.

More on the GSA’s program can be found at

United States Senators introduced a bill.

Three democratic United States Senators introduced a bill this month that will support energy efficiency investments in homes and businesses through the country. The Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives Act – S.2189 – reinstates tax incentives – credits and deductions – for energy efficiency upgrades to things like appliances, insulation, windows and lighting. If it passes, this bill is expected to motivate thousands of residents and business owners to make efficiency investments.

Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 (HR 2126)

Members of the House of Representatives passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 (HR 2126), sponsored by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The bill includes several provisions to save energy in buildings:

  • The Better Buildings Act to encourage commercial building tenants to save energy through a “Tenant Star” recognition program and green leases that all benefit from the cost savings;
  • A provision to encourage benchmarking and public disclosure of energy use in commercial buildings, following a strategy several cities around the country have adopted to encourage more efficiency;
  • The Energy Efficient Government Technology Act for federal agencies to develop strategies to implement energy-saving information technologies from building energy management to telework, and to improve efficiency of federal data centers, and
  • A provision to address concerns that recent efficiency standards for water heaters could interfere with their use in demand response programs run by rural and other utilities.

A copy of the bill can be found at

DOD way to meeting its goal.

A new study shows that the Department of Defense is well on its way to meeting its goal of an electric grid that uses more renewable and energy-efficient components. The Pew Charitable Trusts report found that DOD energy-efficiency projects more than doubled to 1,339 in FY 2012 from 630 in FY 2010. Renewable energy projects jumped 54% to 700 in that same period.  By the end of 2018 renewable energy capacity on US military bases could rise more than fivefold to 2.1 GW from 384 MW that was installed in mid 2013. Pew estimates 80% of future DOD renewables projects will be financed through power purchase agreements in which private firms finance, build and maintain projects. DOD will also have more latitude in using LEED. The defense authorization bill of 2014 eases some of the restrictions on the DOD’s use of LEED.

Energy Efficiency and Technology in America’s Cities

A January 2014 publication of the US Conference of Mayors titled “Energy Efficiency and Technology in America’s Cities – a 288 City Survey,” states that nearly three in ten cities, are making LED/energy-efficient lighting technology their top priority over the next 24 months. In addition to prioritizing LED/energy-efficient lighting technology, mayors rank solar technology systems as their second choice, with nearly one in five cities (19%) making this selection. The third and fourth priorities are building retrofits (18%) and unspecified renewable energy technologies (8%), respectively.


Most mayors expect to use their own local resources, followed by partnerships with the private sector, as the sources of financing for their “top priority” technologies over the next 24 months. Mayors identify three city fund sources – city capital funds, city operating funds and city utility/enterprise funds – as the primary resources for advancing their priority technologies.

An initiative funded by Michael Bloomberg’s foundation

An initiative funded by Michael Bloomberg’s foundation has enlisted 10 cities who vow to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from their buildings. They will work with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation to lessen the carbon footprint by making commercial and apartment buildings more energy efficient. Some participants are already enforcing energy-efficiency programs, such as the cool-roofs mandate in Los Angeles and energy audits of buildings in Boston.

New EESCC Standardization Roadmap V1.0 draft

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative (EESCC) has released for a 45-day public comment period the EESCC Standardization Roadmap V1.0 draft, which outlines 116 action-oriented recommendations to advance energy efficiency in the built environment through standards and conformance activities. Advancements in energy efficiency can help bolster the economy, job creation, and U.S. competitiveness by powering economic activity with less energy and at less cost. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), our nation’s buildings account for more than 70 percent of total U.S. electricity use and roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total energy bill at a cost of $400 billion dollars per year. With 20 percent or more of this energy wasted, comparable reductions in energy could save an estimated $80 billion annually. Intended as a resource for U.S. industry, government, and consumers, the EESCC roadmap identifies areas where additional standardization activities are needed to advance energy efficiency within the built environment, and outlines recommended timelines for action. Primary focus is given to U.S. standardization activities and the standards and conformity assessment activities that have direct applicability to the U.S. market.  Presently, the EESCC Roadmap V1.0 outlines 116 recommendations aimed at advancing energy efficiency within five distinct areas:

Chapter One identifies 40 recommendations in the area of building energy and water assessment and performance standards.

Chapter Two details 9 recommendations to advance system integration and systems communications.

Chapter Three puts forth 20 recommendations in the area of building energy rating, labeling, and simulation.

Chapter Four identifies 31 recommendations to advance evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V).

Chapter Five lays out 16 overarching recommendations to advance workforce credentialing for the energy efficiency field.