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Obama Already Has $72B on Tap to Green Buildings, Study Says

President Obama and his administration have an arsenal of more than 30 existing programs worth $72 billion at their finger tips that can be used to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings and multifamily housing.

That's the conclusion of a legal analysis prepared by Van Ness Feldman for the U.S. Green Building Council and several other sponsoring organizations and companies.

"The Obama Administration has tremendous, untapped opportunities to use legal tools already at its disposal to enhance the energy efficiency and sustainability of the nation’s multifamily and commercial buildings -- all without seeking new funds or authority from Congress," says the report that was released Thursday.

"All told, the programs identified in this report have the potential to directly provide or facilitate over $72 billion in funding or loan guarantees, and can leverage hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment through instruments such as mortgage insurance and regulation of the real estate lending market."

The legal analysis, “Using Executive Authority to Achieve Greener Buildings: A Guide for Policymakers to Enhance Sustainability and Efficiency in Multifamily Housing and Commercial Buildings,” recommends a number of ways the Obama administration can use existing programs to enhance building efficiency including:

  • Reforming appraisal and underwriting practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Greening federal banking regulations
  • Promoting flexible FHA insurance products
  • Integrating energy efficiency and sustainability criteria into competitive grants and funding formulas
  • Strengthening minimum property standards for federal housing and economic development programs to reflect energy efficiency and sustainability standards
  • Improving performance standards applicable to federal buildings and leases
  • Refining guidance applicable to the energy efficient commercial buildings tax deduction and the national historic preservation tax credit
  • Using SBA funding mechanisms to support small business energy efficiency investments
  • Streamlining Title 17 loan guarantees to make them suitable for buildings

“As an early adopter of green buildings and the LEED green building certification system, the federal government has been a leader in bringing green buildings to cities and towns across America,” said Roger Platt, the USGBC's senior vice president of  Global Policy & Law said in a prepared statement. “This new report unveils an even larger opportunity for the Obama Administration to increase our nation’s energy efficiency, while creating thousands of jobs and saving taxpayers money.”

An executive summary (pdf) and the full report are available at

Its sponsors include The Real Estate Roundtable, UDR, Johnson Controls Inc., The Energy Foundation, Building Owners and Managers Association International, The American Institute of Architects, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, International Facility Management Association, Energy Future Coalition, and C3.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon.

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