ICYMI: Kohl's, Legrand and others cash in on Better Buildings

Editor's Note: ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) is a regular GreenBiz feature recapping the highlights of corporate sustainability news from the past week.

Dear readers: Although there's rarely a theme that one can easily pluck from the torrent of sustainability news in a given week, over the past 10 days or so we've seen just a ton of news about greener buildings, smart buildings and the launch of a new USGBC partnership to take Greenbuild global. So while most of this week's news will fall under the "odds 'n' sods" category, let's start with a look at highlights from efforts to green the buildings where we live and work.

Banking on, and benefiting from, Better Buildings

Companies share their Better Buildings successes: The Department of Energy this week released the results from the first year of its Better Buildings Challenge, with data from three dozen companies, including Best Buy, GE and Macy's, showing that challenge participants have improved their energy efficiency by more than 2.5 percent in the first year. Among the success stories: Kohl's department stores reported a 7 percent improvement last year, and buildings infrastructure specialist Legrand has achieved a 29 percent reduction since its 2009 baseline year.

What would you do with an extra $34 billion? A new report from United Technologies explores just how much money the nation would save if everyone stepped up to the energy-efficiency challenge as Better Buildings participants have. The report shows that a 30 percent improvement in energy efficiency would create a $275 billion market for advanced building technology, U.S. businesses would save $34 billion per year and American households would save an additional $23 billion per year.

Training the next generation of Energy Execs: The National Renewable Energy Lab continues to train the business and civic leaders that can help the nation achieve these low-carbon and energy-efficiency gains: NREL announced the 2013 class of Energy Execs, who will take part in the five-month-long program to learn about the latest energy technologies. Among the participants are members of the U.S. GSA, National Instruments, Bank of America, the Sierra Club, Eaton Energy Services and the Denver Zoo.

Sharing sustainable food-production practices worldwide: The United Nations Environment Programme this week unveiled its Sustainable Consumption and Production clearinghouse, a database and social network where companies, governments and NGOs can share success stories about how to improve food production, reduce waste and generally guide the world toward more sustainable living. Projects already submitted to the clearinghouse include a Sustainable Rice Platform to improve rice-production methods; details of a plan to reduce plastic bag waste in Brazil by 40 percent in two years; and the highlights from Portugal's National Plan for Preventing Industrial Waste (PNAPRI), which is focused on reducing hazardous waste generated by industrial activity.

Next page: Cloud computing to heat your home, Greek yogurt's dark side

Green building photo by Marcin-linfernum on Shutterstock.