In 2011, President Barack Obama and the United States Energy Department launched the Better Buildings Challenge initiative, a new program aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing utility expenses in both the public and private sectors. The project's ultimate goals are to make American buildings 20 percent greener by 2020, and to double energy productivity by 2030.
More than 110 groups – ranging from schools and local governments to real estate organizations and manufacturing companies, among others – have joined the program. Now, just two years later, the Department of Energy reports that these partners have improved their buildings' energy efficiency by 2.5 percent annually, translating into $58 million in savings, and putting the project on track for its 2020 goal.
"President Obama's Better Buildings Challenge is bringing together private industry and government to integrate energy efficiency into regular business planning and operations, saving millions of dollars by reducing energy waste," said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in his first speech at the 2013 Energy Efficiency Global Forum. "The leadership and investments of our Better Buildings Partners are demonstrating the promise of energy efficiency by reducing energy costs, helping to create American jobs and increasing competitiveness in the private sector."
The United States spends an average of $400 billion every year to power commercial and industrial facilities, which amounts to half of the country's power consumption and over 40 percent of its carbon emissions, according to Sustainable Industries Magazine. The Better Buildings Challenge aims to both reduce the costs of the nation's energy demands as well as improve its environmental impact. Thousands of partnering facilities have reduced their energy intensity by 10 to 20 percent since the program's inception.
Maryland and Virginia homeowners can work towards more eco-friendly energy efficient homes by consulting with a home inspection contractor to assess the power needs of their property.