Minnesota accepts Better Buildings Challenge from President Obama


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Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is representing the State of Minnesota at the White House today. Rothman is meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu, top White House energy officials, and more than 60 CEOs, mayors, energy leaders, and labor representatives from states around the country. The group will discuss President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge, and how ongoing initiatives in states like Minnesota can help significantly reduce energy consumption in public and private buildings nationwide.

The President’s initiative, announced this morning, will invest $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. Those investments will upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20 percent by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings. The Challenge is projected to produce billions in energy savings, promote energy independence, and—according to independent estimates—create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.

“Minnesota is excited to contribute to this nationwide effort, helping lead the country in achieving aggressive and achievable energy savings goals,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Under Governor Dayton’s leadership, the work our state is already doing to reduce energy consumption in state-owned buildings, improve conservation efforts at electric and gas utilities, and conserve energy in private homes, businesses and industrial buildings will be instrumental in that effort. The State of Minnesota is proud to accept the President’s challenge—and we encourage other states to do the same.”

The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February by President Obama, and is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. This multi-state effort will support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades, reducing energy costs for American businesses by an estimated $40 billion.

As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, the State of Minnesota will work to achieve a 20 percent reduction in state energy consumption, and boost energy savings and job creation across the state through several recent state-sponsored initiatives—many of which are administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Division of Energy Resources (DER).

Those commitments include:

  • Guaranteed Energy Savings Program, which was initiated in April 2011 when Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton issued an executive order calling for state agencies to “adopt cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies” that will achieve at least an aggregate 20 percent reduction in energy use for state-owned buildings

  • Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), which oversees the conservation improvement plans of each electric and gas utility in the state to help business and residential customers become more energy efficient and to require an energy savings goal of 1.5 percent from each participating electric and gas utility

  • Trillion BTU Energy Efficiency Improvement Program, which is an effort designed to reduce energy consumption by up to one trillion Btus a year, save businesses money, and sustain and create jobs. This program is a partnership of DOE, CIP, Xcel Energy Co., and the Saint Paul Port Authority that combines a revolving loan program created by the Port Authority and an Xcel Energy rebate to finance energy audits, engineering studies, and physical improvements to businesses

  • Public Building Enhanced Energy Efficiency Program (PBEEEP), which is a $9 million endeavor providing loans or grants for state and local government units to make energy-efficiency improvements to existing buildings. Fifty-five government units are currently enrolled

  • Back to Work Minnesota, which was launched in October 2011, is U.S. Senator Al Franken’s Back to Work Minnesota initiative aimed at identifying innovative financing methods that can spur energy efficiency retrofits of commercial and public buildings across the state. The initiative brings together local and national leaders from the public and private sectors to identify potential retrofit projects and unlock financing to implement those projects

See the complete press release here >>

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