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Editor's note: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson joined President Obama on Friday in announcing nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next 2 years. This blog is cross-posted from the Council on Environmental Quality.
I just finished one of the most important meetings in my term as Mayor of Sacramento. Last night, I took a red-eye flight and rushed this morning to the White House for a meeting with President Obama, former President Clinton and 60 university presidents, CEOs and elected leaders from around the country.
The topic? Jobs -- and the incredible opportunity Sacramento has by partnering with President Obama in his plan to invest nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades for our nation's commercial buildings through the Better Buildings Initiative.
This outstanding news could not have come at a better time. Sacramento is one of five cities that has taken the President’s Better Buildings Challenge, which translates into new jobs in our construction industry, where the unemployment rate has topped 30 percent. That's what I mean when I talk about putting Sacramento on the map!
Thanks to President Obama and our work through our Greenwise initiative here in Sacramento, hundreds of workers from the Sacramento region will return to job sites and begin retrofitting commercial buildings, and eventually schools and government offices, making them more energy efficient. And the work won't be done at taxpayer expense. Private companies will finance the upfront costs, and they will be paid back through the energy savings that result from the improvements.
In Sacramento, we have committed to retrofitting 12 million feet of commercial property. And that's just the beginning. There's $100 million available for energy upgrades to property owners within the city, thanks to our partnership with Ygrene Energy Fund.
The Ygrene program translates to 1,500 jobs -- and that's before we add schools and universities to the program and achieve a 20 percent energy use reduction by 2020. The 1,500 jobs do not include the 4,100 paychecks that will be created by our new Entertainment and Sports Complex, which will be one of the greenest and most energy efficient civic centers in the world.
This is huge. Sacramento is thinking big, acting big and generating jobs in a big way through smart investment in energy efficiency.
Kevin Johnson is Mayor of the City of Sacramento.