In 2010, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. In response to this alarming number, the Better Buildings Challenge was introduced by President Obama in December 2011, as an added component of the Better Buildings Initiative launched earlier that year. With the introduction of the Better Buildings Challenge, President Obama hoped to encourage leaders of commercial buildings, multifamily housing, and industrial plants to make a voluntary public commitment to make their buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.
The project aimed to provide a means for networking to introduce Partners (commercial/industrial corporations, school districts, universities, state and municipal governments and owners/managers of multifamily residential buildings) and Allies (utilities and financial supporters) that demonstrate a commitment and leadership in energy efficiency. Leaders of each group are able to share their knowledge and strategies they develop with one another in order to effectively reduce energy and in turn save money.
In May, the spring 2014 progress update was released. The update indicated that in the past year, more than 70 new Partners and Allies have committed to becoming involved with the Better Buildings Challenge. Furthermore, more than 190 organizations have pledged to become more energy efficient. The report highlights that these organizations are “representing more than 3 billion square feet of building space across diverse public and private sectors, more than 600 manufacturing facilities, and close to $2 billion in energy efficiency financing.”
Most recently a Water Savings Pilot program aimed to set water reduction goals has been introduced as another component of the Better Buildings Challenge. Current Partners are encouraged to participate and share data regarding water performance, set and track progress of their water goal, and ultimately cut energy wasted from inefficient water usage. Kohl’s, TIAA-CREF, and Transwestern are among the companies who’ve initially volunteered and set goals to make this added program a success.