Last week, in a speech delivered at Penn State University, President Obama announced the Better Buildings Initiative, which aims to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. This factsheet provides more details on the announcement. The Co-Chairs of the ACUPCC Steering Committee have issued the following statement in support of this initiative:

On February 3, 2011, President Obama announced the Better Buildings Initiative, which aims to achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020, reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion per year, and save energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act.

The initiative will also include the Better Buildings Challenge, which the White House describes in the following way:

The President is challenging CEOs and university presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy, which will save them money and improve productivity. Partners will commit to a series of actions to make their facilities more efficient. They will in turn become eligible for benefits including public recognition, technical assistance, and best-practices sharing through a network of peers.

As Steering Committee Co-Chairs of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, we welcome the Better Buildings Initiative and the Better Buildings Challenge.

The Better Buildings Initiative will help the country reduce emissions, save money and create jobs.  The 676 colleges and universities that are committed to pursuing climate neutrality through the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment are actively evaluating and undertaking projects to retrofit and build new buildings that are smarter, more effective and less wasteful.  This initiative will help bring more of these projects to reality more quickly.  In doing so, it will improve our higher education sector and the health and productivity of our students, while providing them with hands-on experience that will make them more competitive in the 21st century.

We expect the Better Buildings Initiative will align well with the activities of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment network to date, and will help leverage the leadership-by-example that the higher education sector has demonstrated since its launch in 2007.   Indeed, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment is the first sector with a critical mass of university and college scientists, educators, administrators and students committed to pursuing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and has developed publicly available concrete action plans to do so.  These plans include steps to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to help the rest of society do the same.

We recognize achieving climate neutrality will involve reducing energy demand dramatically through smart design, conservation and energy efficiency in new and existing buildings.  Pursuing these strategies saves energy and money and is among the most strategic steps for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

We applaud the President’s efforts to promote energy efficiency, cost-savings, economic revitalization, national security and American competitiveness through the Better Buildings Initiative.

Co-Chairs of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

  • Judith A. Ramaley, President, Winona State University
  • Mary S. Spangler, Chancellor, Houston Community College
  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, President, Spelman College
  • Mitchell S. Thomashow, President, Unity College
  • Timothy P. White, Chancellor, University of California, Riverside