The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
How Obama's 'Year of Action' Could Advance Green Building
By Rick Fedrizzi
Last night, I was inspired watching President Obama outline a plan to "make this a year of action" and calling on us all to do everything we can to invest in a stronger America. The president himself also wasn't shy about reaffirming his commitment to take action: "Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
Well, here at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), we're all too familiar with all the various actions the executive branch could be taking to advance green building. I know because USGBC led the development of two reports, one in 2010 and another in 2012, that systematically cataloged all the various measures the president could take to accelerate green building using existing authority. The reports—spearheaded by one of our policy experts, Jason Hartke, who focused his Ph.D. dissertation on executive action—were extensive collaborative efforts that brought the green building industry together and leveraged our collective insight and knowledge to identify these important policy levers. We worked with many likeminded organizations and long-time USGBC members, including BOMA International, the Real Estate Roundtable, United Technologies, HDR, Ingersoll Rand, Schneider Electric, Johnson Controls, Siemens, Lennar Homes, NASEO, NRDC, the National Housing Conference, Enterprise Community Partners, the Center for American Progress and the Energy Foundation.
Our ultimate finding was simple and straightforward: The executive branch was in a strong position to advance green building by simply fully executing existing laws. By addressing almost three dozen Federal programs that directly provide or facilitate about $72 billion in funding and loan guarantees, our 2010 report identified almost 100 detailed opportunities for action—none of which would require additional appropriations or legal authorization from Congress. In addition, many of the findings in our second report from 2012—"Better Buildings through Executive Action"—remain policy opportunities today.
For example, the report included recommendations to:
- Update guidance on the use of Section 179D, the deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings
- Overcome obstacles for building owners to capture tenants’ aggregated energy consumption data in multifamily structures
- Integrate energy efficiency and sustainability into programs managed by the Economic Development Administration
- Better utilize the Department of Defense’s procurement and research authorities to promote green buildings
- Implement all cost-effective retrofits identified through federal agency audits, paid for with energy savings performance contracts or other innovative financing techniques.
These two reports demonstrated the significant potential for progress in upgrading the nation’s building stock, even at a time of severe fiscal constraints and intense partisan gridlock in Congress. But most important is that these executive opportunities would generate jobs in the hard-hit construction sector by leveraging existing funds within exiting programs, actions that could be taken right now to help strengthen the American economy.
Doing more to advance better buildings could, as the president said, be part of an agenda to make 2014 “a breakthrough year for America.”
Visit EcoWatch’s GREEN BUILDING page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.