Obama’s Economic and Energy Plans Highlight Energy Efficiency, Green Retrofits

This is the proverbial Big News for HVAC. In his weekly radio address on December 5, President-elect Obama announced the outline of his and Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s economic recovery plan. One of the plan’s major emphases is the need for increasing America’s overall energy efficiency, and one way Obama proposes to do that is by performing various green retrofits and upgrades on all sorts of buildings, including federal ones, where he says he plans to have old and inefficient heating systems replaced.

(Hey, do you hear that? It’s the sound of the new presidential administration shouting “Heads up!” to the HVAC crowd.)

Naturally, media coverage is intense.

You can read the details in any number of news stories, including:

You can also read the full text of the address in, for example, the The Wall Street Journal (“President-Elect Barack Obama Outlines Economic Recovery Plan“).

Be sure to note that energy efficiency is the very first thing Obama talks about:

First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work [emphasis added].

If you find this interesting, you ought to consider visiting the official Obama-Biden Website to read the highlights or the full text (an eight-page PDF) of the new administration’s energy plan, “New Energy for America,” which says more about these issues. The proposals of particular professional interest to the HVAC community come from the final section, “Commitment to Efficiency to Reduce Energy Use and Lower Costs”:

  • Set National Building Efficiency Goals. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030. They will also establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50 percent and existing building efficiency by 25 percent over the next decade to help us meet the 2030 goal.
  • Overhaul Federal Efficiency Standards. The current Department of Energy has missed 34 deadlines for setting updated appliance efficiency standards, which has cost American consumers millions of dollars in unrealized energy savings. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will overhaul this process for appliances and provide more resources to his Department of Energy so it implements regular updates for efficiency standards. They will also work with Congress to ensure that it continues to play a key role in improving our national efficiency codes.
  • Reduce Federal Energy Consumption. Currently, the federal government is the world’s largest single consumer of energy in the world, spending approximately $14.5 billion on energy consumption in FY 2008. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe in the importance of leading by example. They will make the federal government a leader in the green building market, achieving a 40 percent increase in efficiency in all new federal buildings within five years and ensuring that all new federal buildings are zero‐emissions by 2025. They will invest in cost‐effective retrofits to achieve a 25 percent increase in efficiency of existing federal buildings within 5 years. The Obama‐Biden plan will put forward the resources necessary to achieve a 15 percent reduction in federal energy consumption by 2015.

You know that massive green tsunami that’s washing over America and simultaneously galvanizing and transforming the HVAC industry? It just gained a lot more mass.

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