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Obama and the USGBC!

January 29, 2009
USGBC to Obama Administration:
Yes We Will.
Nation’s Green Building Leader Promotes Green Jobs as the Cornerstone to Reviving and Restoring America’s Economy
In his first full week as president, President Barack Obama is moving swiftly and boldly with the full support of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to chart a new course for our struggling economy – a path that invests in our buildings, from our homes to our schools, and that creates millions of new green-collar jobs and saves Americans billions in energy.

Expanding on its 16 years of work to transform our nation’s buildings and communities, USGBC is engaging closely with the Obama administration to demonstrate that immediate and long-term investments in green building and in the green economy are the down payment needed to restore America’s economic leadership.

From the East Room of the White House on Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama urges support and swift passage of an economic recovery package “so that we can climb our way out of this crisis.”

Whether meeting directly with the administration on its economic recovery plan, providing strategic advice to senior energy and environmental officials on transforming the country’s built environment, or presenting bold new ideas on expanding the green economy, USGBC is advancing green building as a central plank to rebuilding a healthy and sustained economy while putting Americans back to work.

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, and Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior adviser, after President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday in support of his economic recovery plan.

“Our member companies across the country provide examples of success to an administration that is seeking new answers and a new direction,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chairman. “USGBC will continue to deliver innovative and deliberative plans of action that will simultaneously create millions of green-collar jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and advance proven opportunities to deliver greener, more energy-efficient buildings.”

Read Rick's public policy ideas in Roll Call »

USGBC is actively monitoring and informing deliberations about the economic recovery package urged by President Obama and now under development in Congress. Even with passage in the House yesterday, the specifics of the plan are not yet final—and are currently the subject of debate and negotiation in both the House and Senate. Nevertheless, the following elements of the packages proposed by both chambers hold particular promise for green building and represent an important recognition of the transformative potential of existing buildings:
Green Schools: The House and Senate economic recovery plans currently provide multiple billions of dollars for modernization of K-12 and higher education facilities, with preferences or requirements for green improvement projects.
Green Federal Buildings: Both the House and Senate plans currently include several billion dollars for the General Services Administration’s Federal Buildings Fund, with green or energy efficiency requirements for funded facility projects.
Weatherization Assistance Program: Both plans would provide multiple billions of dollars for and expand the reach of the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides weatherization services to help improve the energy efficiency of homes and enable lower energy bills for low-income families.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants: The House and Senate plans currently provide multiple billions of dollars for block grant funds for states, localities, and tribes for energy efficiency projects.
Public Housing: Both packages currently provide several billion dollars for the Public Housing Capital Fund to support improvements to public housing developments, including authority or priority for energy efficiency incentives and projects.
Green Job Training: Both plans would provide billions of dollars for job training programs, with a preference or requirement that portions of such funds be used to prepare workers for jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
USGBC will continue to support the new administration, working to ensure the final passage of an economic recovery package that taps the full potential of green building to advance the new green economy of the future. Dear Green Builders,

The Obama Administration’s economic recovery plan includes many important provisions for green building, green schools, and energy efficiency for existing buildings that will be of great importance to our community. This investment in our nation’s built environment will not only stimulate renewed activity, it will bear further fruit measured in energy savings, cost savings, and new green jobs.

You – as organizational leaders in the green building movement, and as individual professionals – will be needed to make sure that the tremendous potential of the “green strings” attached to billions of dollars in federal investments fulfill their promise. The professional capacity of our community that has been built around new construction will need to be refocused on our existing buildings so that initiatives like the Obama Administration’s commitment to retrofit 75% of all federal buildings will serve as an exceptional business case and build momentum to drive the market forward. As McKinsey & Co. has documented, there is more than $160 billion of cost-saving potential in our existing building stock. Your commitment to help fulfill the vision of a sustainable built environment will help make it a reality.

Our team here in Washington will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments related to green building. To get engaged and get involved, please connect with your local Chapter. We will be working through our local network throughout the year through focused educational programming and advocacy.

With gratitude,

Michelle Moore
Senior Vice President, Policy & Public Affairs