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Leading by Example to Reduce Carbon Pollution and Waste Less Energy

With his announcements today, the President demonstrates his commitment to Federal leadership on cutting carbon pollution and improving energy efficiency.

In his speech at Georgetown University last summer, President Obama laid out his plan to cut the carbon pollution that drives climate change. One of the ways he said we can do that is through wasting less energy – which will save money for American families, businesses, and the Federal Government.

Following up on that commitment, the President today announced that the Administration is doubling down on energy efficiency in Federal buildings with an additional $2 billion investment in energy upgrades to federal buildings over the next three years. This investment, when combined with the President’s initial 2011 commitment of $2 billion, makes for a total of $4 billion in performance contracts through 2016. This means that the Federal Government will be using long term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at no net cost to taxpayers.

Energy Performance Contracts drive economic development, utilize private sector innovation, and increase efficiency. They have received broad bipartisan support, along with support from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce. The President’s investment in energy upgrades will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector. We’ve already seen impressive progress here – actual savings through the use of performance contracts has far exceeded the savings guaranteed by the contracts.

The President firmly believes that the Federal Government should lead by example in improving energy efficiency and cutting harmful carbon pollution, which is why he set aggressive targets for Federal agencies for reducing their energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use. Through this initiative, the Federal Government – the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy –  has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent, the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road. Today, building on these efforts, the White House announced that it has completed installation of American-made solar panels on the First Family’s residence as a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.  The retrofit includes the installation of energy-saving equipment such as updated building controls and variable speed fans, as well as 6.3 kilowatts of solar generation. Watch the behind the scenes installation of solar panels on the roof of the residence here:

Acting on climate is more urgent than ever. The third National Climate Assessment that was released on Tuesday showed that climate change is already affecting every region of the United States as well as key sectors of our economy. The additional investment in energy upgrades for Federal buildings will help improve energy efficiency across the economy and reduce the carbon pollution that drives climate change.

Mike Boots is Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.