Obama doubles energy efficiency initiative for federal buildings

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Obama doubles energy efficiency initiative for federal buildings

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 6:13am -- tim

President Obama announced last week an expanded energy efficiency initiative that Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) has championed in Congress. Over the next two years the federal government will double from $2 billion to $4 billion the amount of energy efficiency work being performed in federal buildings around the country. 

The initiative utilizes a public/private partnership known as “performance contracting” to retrofit federal buildings around the country at no additional cost to the taxpayer.   Energy service companies and utilities performing the work are paid out of the savings they achieve rather than through additional appropriations.

Welch is the leader in the House of Representatives on energy efficiency in federal buildings. Two weeks ago, the Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Welch serves, passed his legislation encouraging the use of performance contracting in federal buildings.  And in November, Welch, Rep. Cory Gardner(R-CO), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), and Sen.John Boozman(R-AR) rallied a bipartisan group of 118 House Members and 28 Senators in support of expanding the federal building efficiency program.  Also, Welch and Gardner founded and co-chair the 35-member House caucus, made up of 18 Republicans and 17 Democrats, that advocated for the expansion of this program announced by Obama today.   

“I appreciate the President’s strong leadership on energy efficiency and applaud him for leading by example.  The federal government is the largest energy user in the country and I’m pleased that he set a high-bar today for energy efficiency savings,” said Welch. “The report on climate change released earlier this week should put to rest the theoretical debate over the existence of climate change and clearly cites energy efficiency as a way to mitigate its impact.”

The federal government owns or operates nearly three billion square feet of building space and annually spends over $6 billion to heat and cool federal facilities. 

Last month, the House of Representatives passed another Welch energy efficiency bill by a vote of 375-36.  That bill is expected to be considered in the near future by the full Senate, where Welch is working closely with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).