News Brief

Obama Introduces 'Better Building' Plan

In his announcement about the Better Buildings Initiative, an incentive program for energy-efficient upgrades to commercial buildings, President Obama discussed the high-profile green retrofit of the Empire State Building. The renovations have created local jobs and are expected to reduce the venerable structure’s energy use by 38% when completed.

Photo: Empire State Building
President Obama recently put forward the Better Buildings Initiative, an incentive program designed to stimulate spending on energy-efficient retrofits for commercial buildings. The initiative not only promotes efficiency but also aims to create jobs in the building and manufacturing industries hit hardest by the crash of the construction sector. Despite the long-term economic benefits of energy efficiency, building owners often have trouble raising capital to make improvements. To solve this problem, while aiming to increase the efficiency of commercial buildings 20% by 2020, Obama’s initiative proposes loan guarantees and corporate tax credits, and aims to reward local and state governments for taking a leadership role in requiring better building performance. Business and political leaders and industry groups have praised the initiative, saying it will create green jobs in the design, construction, and manufacturing industries for years to come.

Published February 28, 2011

Paula, M. (2011, February 28). Obama Introduces 'Better Building' Plan. Retrieved from

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March 11, 2011 - 6:28 am

Providing loan guarantees and tax credits solves the short term barriers to building green building: initial investment. But the real issue is that the design, bid, build process is so entrenched and inefficient that we could be building green buildings at a lower cost if we revisited this process. Chris Leary from KlingStubbins has a great case study on how to use alternative contracts to address this, as does John Boecher on how to use the integrated design process to address this. The SPI Green Firm Certification looks at the overall approach to professional practice and how A/E/C firm can recognize efficiencies and build green buildings at lower costs. Check out a short video about the program here: