Advocates Push for Executive Action on Greening Buildings

Feb. 24, 2012

The Obama administration can deploy nearly three dozen green building initiatives to boost the economy and make U.S. building stock more sustainable – and none require Congressional approval, according to a new report by the USGBC and 15 partner organizations.

This study follows up on a 2010 report that identified nearly 100 opportunities across 30 existing federal programs for the executive branch to improve energy efficiency in U.S. building stock. These opportunities, several of which were eventually implemented, offered a combined $72 billion in savings.

The 2012 update is titled Better Buildings through Executive Action: Leveraging Existing Authorities to Promote Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Multifamily and Commercial Buildings. Its recommendations include:

  • Updated guidance on the use of Section 179D, the deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings;
  • Overcoming obstacles for building owners to capture tenants’ aggregated energy consumption data in multifamily structures;
  • Integrating energy efficiency and sustainability into programs managed by the Economic Development Administration;
  • Better utilizing the Department of Defense’s procurement and research authorities to promote green buildings; and
  • Implementing all cost-effective retrofits identified through federal agency audits, paid for with energy savings performance contracts or other innovative financing techniques.

Since the original 2010 report, the administration has launched the Better Buildings Initiative, which contains several of the report’s recommendations. Among them: improving the Energy Efficiency Commercial Building Tax Deduction, using Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees, and utilizing Small Business Administration financing programs to support energy efficiency retrofits.

The 2012 report lauded the government for several other major developments implemented since 2010, such as:

  • An interagency effort to establish uniform energy efficiency standards across federal housing programs and require green capital needs assessments that would encourage sustainability and efficiency improvements;
  • A joint initiative by the DOE and the Appraisal Foundation to promote fair appraisal standards and practices for energy-efficient and sustainable buildings; and
  • A proposed energy performance rating program for commercial buildings, sponsored by the DOE.

The report follows the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s review of the 2012 report. The agency called for better coordination among federal agencies in funding projects that meet green criteria.

To view the full report, visit

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