As part of a clean-energy agenda, the Obama administration introduced the Better Building Initiative Feb. 3, a plan to double the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 by creating retrofitting incentives for commercial developers , builders and owners, including those in self-storage.
Here are the initiative’s main goals:
- By 2020, make commercial-building space 20 percent more energy-efficient through upgrades to, for example, lighting, heating and cooling, and major technological appliances and systems.
- In the same timeframe, reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion a year.
- Aggressively reform existing tax and lending incentives for commercial-building retrofitting: Obama would like Congress to increase the tax credit to businesses for retrofitting. Additionally, the president wants to roll out a new grant program directed at state and local governments to get them to streamline their energy-efficiency regulations, codes and incentives. It will be based on the Race to the Top program in the Education Department, which nudges states to toughen standards and make other reforms to qualify for funds.
- Develop a coalition of corporate leaders who will commit to making progress toward the initiative's goals.
Referencing the plan during the State of the Union address Jan. 25 and then fully introducing it in a speech the following week, President Obama said commercial buildings last year consumed roughly 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy.
Though the administration hasn't clearly enumerated how the initiative will be funded, the Wall Street Journal reported Obama suggests imposing higher taxes on oil and gas companies. The Wall Street Journal also reported former President Clinton and Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric Co., would lead the effort to reach out to corporate decision-makers.
The commercially focused Better Building Initiative piggybacks on the residentially focused Home Star legislation, which is designed to encourage families to make energy-saving upgrades in their homes. This legislation currently sits idle in the Senate after being introduced in 2010.