USGBC report highlights potential for energy efficient buildings

January 19, 2012

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) released a new report that builds on previous research and shows that opportunities abound for the current administration to drive improvements in the energy efficient buildings sector.

The report, entitled "An Update and Look Forward: Better Buildings Through Executive Action," shows that the Obama administration has significant ability to advance goals related to energy efficiency in multifamily, residential and commercial buildings.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the work is an update from an April 2010 report which identified nearly 100 policy opportunities for the administration to increase the number of green buildings across a multitude of federal agencies.

The new report reflects on the progress of the policies identified in 2010 and suggests 32 new options to ensure that progress is made in the commercial buildings sector. According to Today's Facility Manager, the most recent work represents the efforts by the USGBC and 15 partner organizations.

The report outlines how energy efficient and sustainable buildings are a potentially potent engine for job creation and economic growth if they are supported by federal policies. It notes that the current administration must continue to advance the legal and policy tools that are available to encourage investment in the green building sector.

According to the report, certain programs and agencies in the government have made significant progress. These include the administration's "Better Buildings Initiative," which considers many elements of the 2010 report.

Another development that was highlighted in the report is an interagency effort to establish uniform energy efficiency standards across federal housing programs and the requirement of "green capital needs assessments."

The report also identifies new opportunities for the administration. These include facilitating the use of widely-recognized energy efficiency labels, integrating building energy efficiency and sustainability into programs managed by the Economic Development Administration and better utilizing the Department of Defense's procurement and research authorities to promote green buildings.

Support at the federal level is seen to be paramount to the adoption of more efficient buildings in the U.S., as the Department of Energy (DOE) has identified that commercial buildings account for up to 40 percent of the country's total energy consumption.

The DOE has established an innovation HUB to address this issue. The effort, dubbed the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC), is a consortium of institutions from academia, the private sector, energy industry and the government that working to design and develop energy efficient buildings and technology.