WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced last month at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Chicago the 14 initial partners committing to the Better Buildings Challenge. The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative that President Obama launched in February to catalyze private sector investment in commercial building upgrades and make America’s commercial buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade. The Better Buildings Initiative is co-led by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and former President Clinton. Earlier last month, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness recommended to President Obama prioritizing the Better Buildings Initiative as an important way to support job creation. The initial partners in the Better Buildings Challenge include private sector companies, financial institutions and local governments.
“Improving building energy efficiency on a large scale is a challenge we can’t afford not to take,” said Secretary Chu. “It will create jobs, reduce energy waste, save our businesses and institutions money, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
“The Better Buildings Challenge harnesses the creativity and ingenuity of leaders across the public and private sectors to ensure America leads the world in tapping the potential of saving energy to create jobs” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “Upgrading the energy performance of the built environment will cut waste, lower pollution and spur market growth."
“The Better Buildings Challenge will make American businesses more competitive in the global economy by saving them billions in energy costs – savings they can spend on growing, expanding and hiring new workers,” said Laura Tyson, member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and professor of Global Management at UC Berkeley. “It will help put construction workers and contractors back to work and it will increase the production of energy-efficient products at U.S. manufacturing facilities. The first round of partners committing to the Better Buildings Challenge today are taking an important step to support job creation across the country.”
As part of the President’s vision for winning the future by investing in innovative clean energy technologies, the initial partners announced today will work with the Department of Energy in the coming months to further develop the details of the challenge in advance of another round of partnership announcements in the fall. Commitments announced to date include a pledge by Lend Lease to retrofit 40,000 homes for military families and by Transwestern to upgrade energy efficiency in 78 million square feet of commercial real estate.
Companies and communities announcing commitments today -- including Lend Lease, USAA Real Estate Company and the cities of Los Angeles, Seattle and Atlanta to name a few -- will provide data on their energy savings and share their efficiency strategies, which will serve as models to save money by saving energy. Additionally, a number of financial organizations, including Citi, have agreed to support the challenge by helping to provide financing for energy efficiency projects.
The Better Buildings Challenge aims to support President Obama’s goal of helping businesses save nearly $40 billion annually in energy costs, enabling them to grow, invest in new technology, and create American jobs. Investing in innovative clean energy technologies that make America’s commercial buildings more efficient will put Americans to work and save money by saving energy.
The Better Buildings Challenge partners are:
Better Buildings Challenge Portfolio Partners: More than 260 million square feet of enrolled buildings and facilities
• Best Buy: More than 55 million square feet of retail space
Best Buy, which leases or owns more than 55 million square feet of retail space in the U.S., has continuously sought to build greater efficiency across its stores and operations. In 2009, the company achieved its first greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal of 8% per square foot, and announced a new goal of 20% reduction by 2020 over its 2009 baseline. Additionally, Best Buy is sharply focused on the specific role that its Blue Shirts and Geek Squad Agents can play to help consumers understand how to own, use, and maintain energy efficient technologies.
• Green Sports Alliance: 25 sports teams in 17 cities representing more than 20 million square feet of sports arenas
The Green Sports Alliance is currently comprised of 25 member sports teams representing over 20 million square feet of sports venues and facilities in 17 North American cities. As partners of the Better Buildings Challenge, the Alliance will strive to reduce the energy use of member facilities by at least 20% by 2020 in aggregate. The Green Sports Alliance members will identify and undertake energy conservation projects and will promote the Better Buildings Challenge to all new members and partners.
Green Sports Alliance members are already demonstrating that this goal is attainable. The Seattle Mariners and Portland Trail Blazers have implemented conservation strategies and facility improvements that have already resulted in energy savings of 30%. Supporting the Better Buildings Challenge will help encourage professional sports teams and their venues to implement conservation projects that will result in significant financial and environmental performance.
• Lend Lease: 40,000 high performance, efficiency homes for military families
Lend Lease is one of the world's leading fully integrated property solutions providers. Lend Lease is committed to partnering with like-minded organizations and governments to deliver the next generation of sustainable communities and property and infrastructure solutions. A global leader in sustainability, Lend Lease is committing to a 20% energy-reduction goal by 2020 within the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) portfolio. The portfolio represents approximately 40,000 homes including 19,000 new, 20,000 legacy, 800 historic units, 19 offices and 19 community centers, which will improve more than 65.3 million square feet, helping American military families bring energy security home.
• Transwestern: Reducing energy consumption in 78 million square feet of managed properties
Transwestern is advancing its commitment to promoting and incorporating sustainability in its work by becoming a partner of the Better Buildings Challenge. Transwestern is committing 442 office buildings, totaling 78 million square feet of its managed portfolio to the Challenge and will be executing its goal to reduce energy consumption across this portfolio by more than 20 percent by 2020. In particular, Transwestern will be working with building owners to identify and implement innovative, deep energy retrofits to lower operating costs and improve the bottom line while preserving the environment for future generations.
Transwestern is a national, privately-held operating company specializing in commercial real estate services, investment and development. The firm has product specialties in office, industrial, retail, multifamily and healthcare and is an industry leader in sustainability solutions and in market research through its affiliate, Delta Associates. Transwestern has received multiple ENERGY STAR® awards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To date, the firm has LEED® certified more than 38 properties across the U.S., totaling 14 million square feet, and is leading certification projects in such countries as China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil.
• USAA Real Estate Company: Approximately 50 million square feet
As long standing leaders in energy efficiency and sustainability, USAA Real Estate Company is becoming a partner of the Better Buildings Challenge in order to support improved energy performance in buildings and further demonstrate the business case. USAA is committing its portfolio of almost 50 million square feet consisting of 60 industrial buildings, 39 office buildings, 9 multifamily/mixed use projects, and 7 hotels (115 buildings total) to the challenge. For the assets owned each year, in alignment with its goal of reducing energy use by 5% per year, USAA will be identifying and undertaking a number of energy reducing projects and will continue to implement performance enhancing operations within its portfolio, and will work with the Better Buildings Challenge to demonstrate the results and successes of these projects.
Better Buildings Challenge Financial Allies: More than $575 million in commitments for financing energy efficiency projects over the next 18 months
• Abundant Power: $50+ million in financing over the next 18 months
Abundant Power is a financial services firm specializing in designing, administering, underwriting, and structuring clean energy financing programs/products. Abundant Power is committed to offering and accelerating the development of creative financial products that scale, including commercial PACE, on-bill structures, service contract products, and leveraged debt/bond facilities. Abundant Power expects to originate and finance of more than $50 million of commercial building energy efficiency projects over the next 18 months. Abundant Power will achieve this by partnering with states and municipalities, utilities, and industry partners to introduce and scale its services; aggressively marketing and sourcing projects; raising debt and equity funds to provide structured financial products; and evaluating & underwriting projects/programs identified by Better Buildings Challenge partners.
• Citi: $250+ million in financing over the next 18 months
Citi is committed to continue its development and offering of scalable financial solutions for aggregations of commercial and other property type energy efficiency projects. Existing structures and structures under development target public and private sector clients, employ a number of financing mechanisms, partners and clients, and range in size from a minimum of $50 million for each transaction. An estimate of the total dollar amount of financing activity Citi will pursue over the next 18 months is at least $250 million.
• Green Campus Partners LLC: $100+ million in financing over the next 18 months
Green Campus Partners LLC, a portfolio company of Hudson Clean Energy Partners - a leading global clean energy private equity firm - is committing to co-develop, structure, arrange capital, and invest equity into market based, creditworthy commercial, industrial, hospital, and university energy conservation projects and Energy Savings Agreements as well as renewable and distributed generation projects. These efforts could result in more than $100 million of energy conservation projects over the next 18 months. Green Campus Partners will achieve this by working closely with the Administration, stakeholders, and partners, making principal investments in energy efficiency projects utilizing the company’s service agreement transaction structure co-developing compelling projects with Green Campus Partners’ ESCO and contracting partners, and leveraging Green Campus Partners’ managements expertise in energy efficiency structuring and development, their deep capital markets relationships and their commitment to providing energy efficiency development and financing solutions.
• Metrus Energy: $50+ million in financing over the next 18 months
Metrus Energy, a pioneer in innovative financing models for industrial and commercial building energy efficiency, will commit to partnering with industry and investors to accelerate the usage of its Energy Services Agreement financing structure. Metrus Energy plans to finance $50+ million of efficiency projects over the next 18 months. This will be achieved by financing qualified projects identified by Better Buildings Challenge partners, and showcasing projects under the Better Buildings Challenge to help stimulate greater demand. Metrus Energy has also committed to working with the Department Of Energy to evaluate project opportunities that have been previously identified through the DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers.
• Renewable Funding: $50+ million in financing over the next 18 months
Renewable Funding is a financial services, technology, and program management firm specializing in innovative approaches to financing clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Renewable Funding is committed to accelerating the development of commercial financing options, with a particular emphasis on the design, structuring and implementation of commercial PACE financing programs. In collaboration with their partners, they anticipate commercial PACE financing will result in over $50 million in commercial building energy efficiency projects over the 18 months. Renewable Funding will achieve this by partnering with local and state governments, industry stakeholders, and investors to deliver commercial PACE financing; ensuring commercial PACE is designed to attract a wide range of financing options, including access to the capital markets; and actively engaging with Better Buildings Challenge Partners to identify and approve projects on behalf of the communities they serve.
• Transcend Equity: $75+ million in financing over the next 18 months
Transcend Equity, a leader in developing energy efficiency projects in commercial real estate, private higher education, and healthcare, will commit to partnering with industry and investors to accelerate the usage of its Managed Energy Services Agreement (“MESA”) structure to facilitate investment in energy efficiency improvements in privately owned real estate. This is expected to result in a minimum of $75 million of financing for energy efficiency projects over the next 18 months, projects which are expected to save 25% or more in energy usage. This will be achieved by leveraging its recent joint venture equity investment by Mitsui USA to attract additional debt providers while aggressively marketing and sourcing projects, evaluating & financing projects identified by Better Buildings Challenge partners, and showcasing projects under the Better Buildings Challenge to help stimulate additional demand.
Better Buildings Challenge Community Partners: More than 47 million square feet, hundreds of city blocks of enrolled buildings and facilities, and up to $30 million in financing
• City of Atlanta: 220 downtown city blocks targeted with Atlanta’s City Hall and Civic Center leading the way
The City of Atlanta has united with the metropolitan business and nonprofit community to implement a comprehensive energy upgrade for downtown buildings to meet the goal of improving energy performance a minimum of 20% by 2020. Working with the Department of Energy, the effort is already underway with a benchmarking initiative for Atlanta's 220-block downtown improvement district, including City Hall, the Civic Center, and other municipal facilities, as well as to eventually include landmark buildings in the downtown area. Going forward, project partners will work with banks, funds, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), and others to enable substantive retrofits of downtown university, healthcare, municipal, and commercial buildings. Enrolled buildings participating in substantive retrofits will initially exceed 2 million square feet, with broader participation expected in energy monitoring and action.
• City of Los Angeles: $7.5 million in Recovery Act funding will leverage $30 million in total investment to improve 22 million square feet of downtown buildings
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City of Los Angeles will soon be launching and promoting LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership, which provides energy audits and a suite of creative financing solutions, as a means to support owners of commercial property in energy upgrades. Los Angeles will set a goal of 20% minimum savings on projects supported through the program, and the City will work with and recognize private sector property owners who make commitments of their own to reduce energy consumption 20% by 2020, consistent with the Better Buildings Initiative goals. The City expects approximately 22 million square feet of commercial property to be audited through the LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership, using $7.5 million in Recovery Act funds with the goal of driving over $30 million in total investment.
• Seattle 2030 District: 23 million feet of downtown buildings will meet or exceed Better Building Challenge goals
The Seattle 2030 District is an effort of more than 40 civic leaders – building owners and professionals, utilities, Architecture2030, the City of Seattle, and King County – to become the first large-scale, high performance building district in the country. The 2030 District has set aggressive reduction goals for building energy use, water use, and greenhouse gases based on the 2030 Challenge for Planning, and members have agreed to work together to ensure the District meets those goals. The Seattle 2030 District is model of public-private collaboration that will reduce energy use, generate local economic activity, and pave the way towards a sustainable future. Enrolled buildings will exceed 23 million square feet.