President Obama has proposed new efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. The Better Buildings Initiative calls for a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. Additionally, the initiative's goal is to reduce companies' energy bills by $40 billion partly by reformatting outdated incentives.
President Obama is calling on Congress to redesign the current tax deductions spelled out in EPAct 2005 for commercial building upgrades and is asking for better financing opportunities for commercial retrofits.
The Better Buildings Initiative also institutes the Race to Green, which encourages state and municipal governments to alter codes, regulations and performance standards related to energy efficiency. Another facet of the initiative is The Better Buildings Challenge, which encourages CEOs and university presidents to position their organizations as leaders in saving energy.
Finally, the initiative will implement a number of reforms to existing policies, including improving transparency around energy efficiency performance, launching a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership, and providing more workforce training in areas such as energy auditing and building operations.
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has introduced a new credential called the Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP) that will recognize facility managers, and others in the industry, who demonstrate proven knowledge and experience in transitioning to sustainability-related practices.
Candidates must complete three courses to earn the SFP designation. The first course summarizes key concepts related to sustainable facility management. The second course instructs facility managers how to align a facility's sustainability plan with the organization's strategic goals and policies. The third course provides in-depth instruction on how facility managers can operate facilities more sustainably through changes in building equipment, technology and operations in eight areas: energy, water, materials and resources, workplace management, indoor environmental quality, quality of services, waste, and site impact. Upon completing each course, applicants must pass a final SFP assessment.
The cost of the program is $1,495 for IFMA members, plus a $130 application fee.
A study published by researchers at the University of California-Davis and the University of Otago in New Zealand shows a correlation between stock value and carbon emissions. Using mathematical models to analyze data from 2006 to 2009 on Standard & Poor's 500, as well as data on the top 200 publicly traded Canadian firms, the researchers concluded that "greenhouse gas emission levels associate negatively with stock price, and that the negative relation between emissions and price is more pronounced for carbon-intensive companies."
Lead researcher, Paul Griffin of the University of California-Davis, says the reason investors care about emissions is that they look to a near-future time when carbon-intensive companies will face increased costs because of mitigation, regulations and taxes.
"They are examining the economic impact of what a company is doing on climate change, and they are assessing whether that is positive or negative for the company's value," Griffin says.
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