Obama's Green Building Agenda
President-elect Barack Obama was one of the most vocal advocates on the campaign trail for sustainability, with respect to both the environment and economic stimulus. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has wasted no time putting together a progressive green agenda to push in Washington, consisting of a variety of measures Obama has supported on record.
The USGBC has singled out four major nodes on which to base an aggressive sustainability agenda. Green building is at the forefront, and Obama has proposed the expansion of federal grants that assist states and municipalities to build LEED-certified public buildings. Furthermore, Obama has planned to call for all new federal buildings to be carbon neutral by 2025. To accomplish this, newly constructed buildings would have to increase initial energy efficiency by 40 percent within five years, and existing buildings would have to increase efficiency by 25 percent.
The plan for federal buildings is similar to the one proposed for all new buildings in the United States. President-elect Obama has proposed a plan that requires all new buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030, which will entail a 50 percent increase in building efficiency within 10 years for new buildings, and a 25 percent increase in existing buildings. New grants would reward the adoption of sustainable building codes by states and localities and provide matching funds toward retrofitting.
Obama has frequently stressed the importance of building a green economy as a means to keep America competitive in the world labor market, while lessening our impact on the environment. A $150 billion, 10-year investment would encourage renewable technology innovation, energy efficiency, alternative-fuel development, and smarter electricity infrastructure. Funds also would be applied to the manufacturing sector for training and transition purposes, creating five million new jobs. Moreover, the funds would be put toward forming a Green Jobs Corps for disadvantaged youth and a Clean Energy Corps to rapidly train a new green workforce.
Finally, Obama has pledged to reinvest heavily in transportation and infrastructure initiatives, which would include expanding and improving public transport. A major keystone in this project is a proposed National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, which would direct $60 billion into national infrastructure improvements, yielding as many as two million jobs and $35 billion in annual economic activity. Obama has also expressed support for a mandate requiring all new cars manufactured in the United States to include flex-fuel engines, which use both gasoline and ethanol.
President-elect Obama takes office on January 20, 2009.