WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Obama yesterday announced nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next 2 years. These investments will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector. The $4 billion investment announced includes a $2 billion commitment, made through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings using long term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at no cost to taxpayers. In addition, 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects; and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20 percent by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of hotel, office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings. Hotel companies making Better Buildings commitments include HEI Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Wyndham Worldwide.
President Obama’s announcement builds on a commitment made by 14 partners at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June to make energy upgrades across 300 million square feet, and to invest $500 million in private sector financing in energy efficiency projects.
The commitments were announced by President Obama and former President Clinton along with representatives from more than 60 organizations as part of the Better Buildings Challenge. The Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February by President Obama, and is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, reducing 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.
Investment in Upgrades Significant
“Upgrading the energy efficiency of America’s buildings is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, cut down on harmful pollution, and create good jobs right now,” said President Obama. “But we can’t wait for Congress to act. So today, I’m directing all federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two years—at no up-front cost to the taxpayer. Coupled with today’s extraordinary private sector commitments of $2 billion to upgrade businesses, factories, and military housing, America is taking another big step towards the competitive, clean energy economy it will take to win the future.”
“Investments in building retrofits and energy efficiency can make a real difference in the American economy, by creating jobs, growing our industries, improving businesses’ bottom lines, reducing our energy bills and consumption, and preserving our planet for future generations,” said President Clinton. “I am proud the Clinton Foundation has been able to help develop and grow President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge, and that so many members of the Clinton Global Initiative have joined this Challenge. Working together, I am pleased the commitments to the BBC have grown from the initial $500 million and 300 million square feet that we announced in June at CGI America, to the $2 billion investment with over 1 billion square feet of retrofitted space that we are announcing today.”
“The Better Buildings initiative has all the components to make a real difference—it will create profitable investment opportunities for worker pension funds, create badly needed good jobs, increase America’s competitiveness around energy savings, and address the dangers of climate change,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.
In a move the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recognized as critical to job creation, the Presidential Memorandum calls for fully implementing existing federal authority to utilize Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs)in order to promote energy efficiency and create new jobs. Under the ESPC program, new energy efficient equipment is installed at Federal facilities at no up-front cost to the government. The cost of the improvements is paid for over time with energy costs saved on utility bills, and the private sector contractors guarantee the energy savings.
Hotel Company Commitments
HEI Hotels & Resorts, located in Norwalk, Conn., is a hospitality owner and operator of more than 40 well-known upscale and luxury hotels including well-known brands Marriott, Renaissance, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton, “W”, Hilton, Embassy Suites and Crowne Plaza totaling nearly 10 million square feet throughout the United States and representing approximately $2.5 billion total investment. HEI is a leader in energy efficiency having reduced their portfolio-wide consumption between 5 percent and 7 percent annually the past few years and currently, HEI is working towards company-wide 2011 targets for energy savings and waste reduction of 3.5 percent and 10 percent respectively. As part of their participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, HEI has committed to reducing the energy use in their ever growing 10 million square feet of building space 20 percent by 2020.
IHG is an international hotel company managing seven highly recognized hotel brands including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites with more than 4,500 hotels in 100 countries. IHG currently has a company-wide benchmarking initiative that aims to realize energy savings ranging from 6 percent to 10 percent in owned and managed properties by 2012. IHG is participating in the Better Buildings Challenge by committing 24 million square feet of hotels.
Wyndham Worldwide is one of the world’s largest hospitality companies across six continents, with approximately 7,300 franchised hotels worldwide, 99,000 vacation properties, and more than 160 vacation ownership resorts. Wyndham is implementing a plan for franchise properties, to adopt energy efficient measures, including a Better Building Challenge commitment of reducing 20 percent of their energy consumption by 2020, over 10 million square feet of their operationally controlled facilities.
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