WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have expanded the Better Buildings Challenge to multifamily housing such as apartments and condominiums and launched the Better Buildings Accelerators to support state- and local government-led efforts to cut energy waste and eliminate market and technical barriers to greater building efficiency.

The Obama Administration also announced it will challenge federal agencies to further expand their use of performance contracts through 2016 to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings, using the guaranteed energy savings to pay for the efficiency upgrades.

“More than 50 multifamily owners from across the nation have committed to the Better Buildings Challenge. These housing leaders understand that it represents an opportunity for them to reduce their long-term energy costs, support innovative technologies, create good jobs, and help shape healthier communities and neighborhoods,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “The expansion of the Better Buildings Challenge to include multifamily housing represents an important step toward achieving the goals laid out in the president’s Climate Action Plan.”

The three new Better Buildings Accelerators announced include:

Better Buildings Energy Data Accelerator: More than 30 cities and utilities — including Xcel, Atlanta Gas and Light, NSTAR/Northeast Utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric and the cities of Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Boston, Cambridge, San Diego and Chula Vista — will develop streamlined approaches to help building owners access whole-building energy use data. Secure, reliable and user-friendly energy data will help building owners accurately benchmark energy consumption and identify the best ways to achieve greater energy and cost savings.

Better Buildings Performance Contracting Accelerator: Sixteen states, cities, and school districts — including Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota and Washington State — will enter into $1.2 billion worth of performance contracts, helping to drive economic development, utilize private sector innovation, and increase efficiency at minimum cost. Performance contracts avoid upfront costs to the customer while guaranteeing long-term cost and energy savings from installed equipment, controls, and other solutions.

Better Buildings Industrial Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Accelerator: Nine U.S. manufacturers and utilities — including 3M Co., Schneider Electric, Nissan, Cummins, Bonneville Power Administration, and Northeast Utilities — will use a superior energy performance (SEP) certification program to verify energy efficiency improvements and practices. The SEP certification program follows a transparent, globally-accepted system for building energy performance. As part of this accelerator, partner utilities will offer technical resources and training to help manufacturers pursue SEP certification at their facilities.

In February 2011, President Obama launched the Better Buildings Challenge to help American commercial and industrial buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. More than 120 organizations, representing over 2 billion square feet, are on track to meet the 2020 goal and cut energy use by an average 2.5 percent annually — equivalent to about $58 million in energy savings each year. In December 2011, President Obama also challenged Federal agencies — in support of the Better Buildings Challenge — to enter into $2 billion worth of performance contracts within two years. Federal agencies have since committed to a pipeline of about $2.3 billion in projects. The latest announcements build on the energy savings achieved to date.

For more information on the Better Buildings Challenge, visit www.energy.gov/betterbuildings.

Publication date: 12/16/2013

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