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Obama Announces $4 Billion Green Building Upgrade Plan

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Many businesses, including Walgreens, have joined President Obama's Better Buildings Initiative, a commitment to energy efficiency. (Photograph by Scott Webb/Flickr)

President Obama, frustrated by the extreme political infighting in Congress, took action today to promote part of his green technology agenda. He unveiled plans to move forward with nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years as part of something called the Better Business Initiative (BBI).

Obama originally unveiled the BBI in February, and it has seen only a little movement since then. Today’s announcement, and action plan [PDF], looks to get things fired up however, with plans to create what is said to be tens of thousands of jobs in the construction sector. The $4 billion being announced for this initiative includes a $2 billion commitment made through presidential decree that will be puts towards “energy upgrades of federal buildings using long term energy savings to pay for up-front costs,” at what the White House says is no cost to taxpayers.

In addition, a diverse mix of CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders committed to nearly $2 billion of private capital towards energy efficiency projects and upgrading “energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings.”

A long laundry list of organizations, many of them partnered through the Clinton Global Initiative, and their planned BBI commitments came along with the announcement. Entities such as 3M, AFL-CIO, the City of Denver, GE and Walgreens had their plans outlined has to how they will meet the president’s call. These commitments join ones made by other organizations this past June.

This program, with its steep price tag, reportedly “will reduce energy bills for American businesses by approximately $40 billion per year,” among other claims. One thing we are wondering though, Mr. President – what happened to the planned solar panels for the White House? We like the energy efficiency push and all, but a little clean energy in the mix would be nice too.