Expert Voices: Monica Neukomm, US Department of Energy

Last Thursday, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the initial Partners of the Better Buildings Challenge at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago, a C40 City. This challenge is part of the White House-led Better Buildings Initiative to increase private sector investment in building energy efficiency and reduce energy use in buildings by 20 percent by 2020 to save money, create jobs, and improve our environment. The focus and potential of the Better Buildings Challenge is to spur job creation in the construction and building industries.

The 14 initial Partners and Allies of the Better Buildings Challenge include property-owning commercial businesses, cities, and providers of energy efficiency finance. The building owners have made a commitment to set a portfolio-wide target for energy reduction and to implement cost effective energy efficiency measures and best practices to meet that target – in all, the Partners committed over 300 million square feet of buildings to the Challenge. The city Partners, including C40 Cities Los Angeles and Seattle, have committed to leading the expansion of the energy efficiency market in their cities through investment and new programs. The financial Partners have committed to making current and new financial products, totaling over $500 million, for retrofitting available to all Better Building Challenge Partners.

At the request of President Obama, the Jobs Council for Competiveness and former President Clinton have been helping to lead the Better Buildings Challenge. The CCI Cities Program, a partner of the C40, has been working with the Department of Energy, the Partners and Allies to refine the Challenge commitments, and will continue to support the program going forward. The Department of Energy will work with the initial Partners over the summer to continue to develop the program, leading to a wider launch in the fall.