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President Obama’s “Better Building Initiative” Praised By PIMA
February 11, 2011

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) offers its strong support of President Obama’s recently announced “Better Buildings Initiative”, to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private sector investment through incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings.

“The Better Buildings Initiative is about taking small steps to reach larger goals,” said Jared Blum, President of PIMA. “The President’s plan is a serious proposal to deal with this county’s large universe of existing commercial buildings, a large percentage of which were built before any model or national energy codes were adopted.”

The explicit goals of the plan include achieving a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020, offsetting the cost of electricity by roughly $40 billion per year for businesses and landlords, and saving energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act.

President Obama outlines several steps to reach these goals, which include:
• Providing new, workable tax incentives to encourage building efficiency;
• Offering more financing opportunities for commercial retrofits;
• Proposing new competitive grants to states and/or local governments that streamline standards, encourage upgrades and attract private sector investment;
• A pilot program allowing the Department of Energy to guarantee private loans for energy efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other buildings;
• Challenging CEOs and University Presidents to move toward energy efficiency; and
• Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers.

A significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency lies within the commercial roofing sector, where over 50 billion square feet of flat roofs are currently available for retrofit, four billion of which are retrofit each year. If the insulation levels in these commercial roofs are upgraded from their current R-value to the high performance levels embodied in a High R Roof – 50% above the minimum required values –annual energy savings would exceed $2 billion.

Last year, commercial buildings consumed nearly 20% of all energy in the United States, and improving the efficiency of these buildings can create jobs, stimulate the economy, save money and decrease the nation’s carbon footprint.

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