Obama Administration to Create Building Efficiency Research Center

Obama Administration to Create Building Efficiency Research Center

The U.S. Departments of Energy, Commerce, Labor and four other federal agencies are banding together to establish a nearly $130 million regional research center to develop and implement new technology for building efficiency.

The Obama administration announced the $129.7 million effort last week.

With buildings accounting for almost 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions, the effort is the newest in an array of building efficiency initiatives that are intended to reduce energy use, emissions and property owners' utility bills while stimulating the economy and creating jobs.

"This unique partnership will not only advance the development of new, energy efficient technologies, it will help local governments, businesses, and homeowners save money on their utility bills by putting the technology to work," U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in a prepared statement.

{related_content}"Energy efficient buildings represent one of our best and most immediate opportunities to create jobs, save money and cut carbon pollution," Chu said.

The Energy Department is to provide the lion's share of the support by contributing as much as $22 million in the first year and up to $100 million in the next four years. The Commerce Department will make as much as $5.5 million available through Public Works and Economic Development funds, Economic Adjustment Assistance funds and its Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Other support and participation will come from the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

The agencies' efforts are intended to promote regional growth by establishing an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC), whose focal point is an Energy Innovation Hub. The regional hub, or research center, is to develop new technology for improved energy-efficient building systems, which are then to be put in place in structures in the area.

The hub is one of three proposed by the Obama administration and funded in the budget for the 2010 fiscal year.

Photo by Stefano Paltera, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, courtesy of
NREL.