What is the Better Buildings Challenge?

  May 8, 2012

Today's tip is about the Better Buildings Challenge, and how your organization can become a participant. You may remember in February of 2011, President Obama announced his Better Buildings Initiative - challenging organizations and the federal government to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020.

The Better Building Challenge, which officially kicked off in December, 2011, is a subset of the Better Buildings Initiative. It’s a formal agreement between about 40 initial participants and Department of Energy to reduce their energy use by at least 20 percent from 2008 levels by 2020.

Organizations that are interested in formally participating in the Better Buildings Challenge must commit themselves to identifying one Showcase Project, which is a good representation of their organizationwide energy efficiency strategies. Additionally, they must report one "implementation model" - which is basically a best practice — to DOE. DOE will collect these implementation models from all participants and disseminate that information to the marketplace, so all can benefit. Participants also agree to report energy data at least every six month. Participants can use their existing report structures, like Energy Star Portfolio Manager, for example.

According to Maria Vargas, the director of the Better Buildings Challenge, the goal of the BBC is to overcome barriers to energy efficiency. She cites some of those barriers as energy efficiency not being part of the business plan, lack of senior management buy-in, lack of reliable information about how to be energy efficient, the split incentive between tenants and landlords, and high hurdle rates for owners or investors.

The current roster of Better Buildings Challenge participants includes a variety of organizations with a variety of building portfolios. Vargas says, she hopes the program will illustrate a diversity of energy efficiency strategies for a diverse buildings market.


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