Washington, D.C.—In February, the Obama administration announced its Better Buildings Initiative, a plan to make existing commercial and multifamily buildings more energy efficient. An analysis by The Real Estate Roundtable, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council, released today, finds that the initiative would create more than 114,000 private-sector jobs, 77,000 of which would be in the construction industry, which could definitely use the help.
The initiative incentivizes improvements to existing buildings through a redesigned tax deduction for energy-efficiency upgrades. This is expected to create a ripple effect, starting in the investment sector and generating activity through manufacturing, production and service sectors. Public funds would translate into private jobs. And businesses are expected to save more than $1.4 billion annually in energy bills as a result of the retrofit projects—money that can then be recycled into the economy.
Jeffrey DeBoer, the Roundtable’s CEO and president, says of the initiative, “Lending is still difficult to come by in many markets, so financial incentives like these proposed by the White House will leverage private investment to help propel our cities and suburbs forward into a new energy economy.” He says, “With the right government policy, the private sector will step up … an essential part of stabilizing the economy.”
Roger Platt, senior vice president of global policy and law with USGBC, emphasizes the broader importance of creating green jobs. The program will “lower energy consumption, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and allow America to retain its competitive edge in the international marketplace,” Platt says, pointing out that it will accomplish this without changing any existing laws.
Ashok Gupta, senior energy economist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, emphasizes the importance of catalyzing the private sector as well. “This plan will help bring lenders into the retrofit market to provide financing for commercial building efficiency projects. Improving buildings’ energy performance reduces harmful pollution associated with energy production while reducing bills for consumers and making businesses more competitive,” he says.
The White House has yet to figure out exactly how the initiative will be paid for. Unsurprisingly, an effort to offset the incentives by cutting oil and gas credits was shot down by invested parties in Congress.