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Better buildings

President Obama announced his Better Buildings Initiative during his 2011 State of the Union speech. The initiative is a handful of legislative and regulatory actions geared to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade. The plan recommends tax incentives, grant and challenge programs and increased financing for improvements.

Several elements of the Better Buildings Initiative echoed policy options offered in the 2010 report “Utilizing Executive Authority to Achieve Greener Buildings,” which was cosponsored by USGBC, the American Institute of Architects, the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other organizations.

They included:

  • a proposal in the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2012 budget to make the existing 179D tax deduction for commercial buildings more robust and usable for more real estate stakeholders,
  • a fiscal year 2012 request to provide loan guarantees for energy efficiency retrofits at universities, hospitals and commercial buildings, and
  • a Small Business Administration initiative to encourage the use of Small Business Administration loans for small business energy-efficiency retrofits.

USGBC estimates the Better Buildings Initiative would create more than 114,000 jobs. More than 77,000 jobs alone would be created from a revised tax incentive to encourage building retrofits.

Job creation would ripple throughout the economy. New jobs would be created directly at construction sites, which in turn would spur more jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors.

Businesses would save more than $1.4 billion in energy bills as a result of retrofit projects spurred by the tax incentive, which would in turn be re-injected into the economy.

We support: the Administration’s Better Buildings Initiative as an important vehicle for retrofitting our nation’s commercial buildings. We are working with Congress and other stakeholders to pursue tax code changes that could unlock a huge number of jobs in commercial energy efficiency.

Want more details?

For a breakdown of the plan, read USGBC’s A New Retrofit Industry: An analysis of the job creation potential of tax incentives for energy efficiency in commercial building and other components of the Better Buildings Initiative.

An Update and Look Forward for Better Buildings through Executive Action

Provides details on opportunities to use existing legal authorities to promote an aggressive efficient and sustainable buildings agenda.

Legislative Brief: Encouraging Building Energy Improvements and Creating Jobs through Tax Incentives

View the brief on the existing tax incentive Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (Section 179D).