Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: President Directs Federal Agencies to Enter Into $2 Billion Worth of Energy Efficiency Contracts for Buildings

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law


J. Cullen Howe   By J. Cullen Howe, Environmental Law Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

On December 2, 2011, President Barack Obama directed federal agencies to enter into at least $2 billion worth of contracts over the next two years to improve government buildings' energy efficiency.  According to a Presidential Memorandum, the contracts should be performance based, meaning that the upfront costs will be paid over time by the energy savings.  The memorandum said that agencies should prioritize energy conservation measures with the best return on investment, and specified that conservation measures that have a 10 year or less payback period should be implemented.  The Memorandum requires that federal agencies submit a planned implementation schedule to the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Council on Environmental Quality by January 31, 2012.

In addition, as part of the President's Better Building Initiative, the White House reported that 60 chief executive officers, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders have committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital in energy-efficiency projects and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of buildings.  The Initiative calls for an increase energy efficiency for commercial buildings by 20% by 2020.

Energy Efficient Government Office Building

Reprinted with permission from Green Building Law Update Service.

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J. Cullen Howe is an environmental law specialist at Arnold & Porter LLP. Much of Cullen's work focuses on climate change, where he attempts to educate lawyers and the public at large on the enormous cooperation necessary to adequately address this problem. In addition to his work on climate change, Cullen is the managing editor of Environmental Law in New York, edits the Environmental Law Practice Guide, Brownfields Law and Practice, the Environmental Impact Review in New York, and has drafted chapters in the Environmental Law Practice Guide on climate change and green building. Mr. Howe is a graduate of Vermont Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vermont Law Review, and a graduate of DePauw University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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