WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has announced a multi-agency initiative designed to spur regional economic growth while making buildings more energy efficient. Seven federal agencies issued a combined Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) of up to $129.7 million over five years to create a regional research center. The center will develop new building efficiency technologies and work with local partners to implement the technologies in area buildings.

DOE is providing up to $22 million for this project in the first year, and as much as $100 million over the next four years. The agencies are working together to leverage funding and resources to promote regional growth through an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) that is centered on an Energy Innovation Hub. The hub, one of three funded by Congress in fiscal year 2010, is focused on developing new technologies to improve the design of energy-efficient building systems.

The E-RIC will be based at a university, DOE national laboratory, nonprofit organization, or private firm. The entity will partner with local or state government officials, drawing on the expertise of local architects, builders, and manufacturers. In addition to DOE, the agencies participating include the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology; the Small Business Administration; the National Science Foundation; and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education. They will work together to leverage this funding with regional sources. DOE said that because buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions, this initiative is designed to provide an array of benefits, which include reducing energy use, lowering utility bills, and decreasing carbon emissions.

Publication date:02/22/2010