Obama Administration Launches $130 Million
Building Energy Efficiency Effort
February 12, 2010 - (DOE) The Obama
Administration today announced a multi-agency initiative to spur
regional economic growth while making buildings more energy
efficient. Seven federal agencies today issued a combined Funding
Opportunity Announcement of up to $129.7 million over five years to
create a regional research center that will develop new building
efficiency technologies and work with local partners to implement
the technologies in area buildings.
Buildings account for nearly 40% of
U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions. Improvements in
building efficiency will provide significant benefits—reducing
energy use, lowering utility bills and decreasing carbon emissions.
The agencies are working together to
leverage funding and resources to promote regional growth through an
Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) that is centered around
an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing new technologies to
improve the design of energy-efficient building systems. This Energy
Innovation Hub, one of three proposed by the Administration and
funded by Congress in the FY10 budget, will bring together a
multidisciplinary team of researchers, ideally working under one
roof, to conduct research and work to solve priority technology
challenges that span work from basic research to engineering
development to commercialization readiness.
The E-RIC will work to disseminate
new technologies into the local marketplace and share best practices
with the public and private sectors. It will be supported through
agency investments in technology and business development, and will
include support for workforce education and training. By linking
researchers at the Hub with local businesses and supporting
specialized workforce education and training in the area, the
initiative will create an economically dynamic region focused on
building efficiency technologies.
"This unique partnership will not
only advance the development of new, energy efficient technologies,
it will help local governments, businesses, and homeowners save
money on their utility bills by putting the technology to work,"
said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "Energy efficient
buildings represent one of our best and most immediate opportunities
to create jobs, save money and cut carbon pollution."
"President Obama is working every day
to put Americans back to work, create good jobs, and strengthen our
economy for the long-term," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "By
leveraging resources across the federal government and building on
regional strengths, we'll improve business opportunities, enhance
our nation's global economic competitiveness and create sustainable,
21st century jobs."
"The Department of Labor will engage
local and regional networks of Workforce Investment Boards and
One-Stop Career centers to ensure that workers reap the maximum
benefit from this initiative," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L.
Solis. "This alignment of federal agency resources will allow us to
have an even greater positive impact along the full economic
spectrum. It will also help reduce the energy costs of buildings
while spurring the creation of new jobs in green and energy
"Regional innovation clusters create
jobs and increase our global competitiveness. Through the Energy RIC,
the SBA will help entrepreneurs and small business owners take the
best research and commercialize it to grow the 'green building'
industry into an economic powerhouse that will put people to work,
save consumers money and help our environment," said U.S. Small
Business Administrator Karen Mills.
The E-RIC chosen under the funding
opportunity will be based at a university, DOE national laboratory,
nonprofit organization, or private firm, partnering closely with
local or state government officials, and leveraging existing
expertise of local architects, builders, and manufacturers. With
this specialization, the regional economy could support other
businesses that address the full production lifecycle for building
technologies and thus create more jobs. Training and education can
help narrow the gap between the supply and demand for workers in
these specialized fields.
This effort will leverage the
collective resources and expertise of seven federal agencies. The
Department of Energy is providing up to $22 million for this project
in the first year, with up to $100 million over the next four years.
To encourage regional cooperation, the Department of Commerce's
(DOC) Economic Development Administration will make available up to
$3 million in Public Works and Economic Development funds and up to
$2 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds for the winning
Proposal. The DOC Manufacturing Extension Partnership will make
available up to $500,000 for a one-year award, with the possibility
of renewal for up to two additional years, to support the services
of an existing DOC-funded MEP Center. The U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA) will make up to $300,000 in the first year,
with three one-year options for renewal grants up to $300,000 per
year, available to provide the services of an existing SBA-funded
Small Business Development Center to the Regional Innovation
Current National Science Foundation
(NSF) award recipients who are also co-applicants or ERIC partners
of the winning consortium will be able to apply for supplemental
funding from NSF through existing programs, particularly those
designed for the training of students who will be the future leaders
in sustainable energy. The Department of Labor (DOL) will support
linkages between E-RIC funding and existing Workforce Investment Act
(WIA) and grant-funded programs to help develop the skilled
workforce needed for the cluster to grow and prosper. The Department
of Energy will provide technical assistance as appropriate to help
E-RIC partners determine how to facilitate the Consortium's
objectives through the allowable use of funds under the E-RIC
partners' existing formula grants or subgrants.
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