By Jodi Summers

Experts have calculated that the Obama administration has put together more than 30 programs worth $72 billion that can be used to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings and multifamily housing.

“The Obama Administration has tremendous, untapped opportunities to use legal tools already at its disposal to enhance the energy efficiency and sustainability of the nation’s multifamily and commercial buildings — all without seeking new funds or authority from Congress,” observes a report prepared by Van Ness Feldman. “All told, the programs identified in this report have the potential to directly provide or facilitate over $72 billion in funding or loan guarantees, and can leverage hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment through instruments such as mortgage insurance and regulation of the real estate lending market.”

Titled “Using Executive Authority to Achieve Greener Buildings: A Guide for Policymakers to Enhance Sustainability and Efficiency in Multifamily Housing and Commercial Buildings,” the legal analysis, suggests several ways the Obama administration can use existing programs to enhance building efficiency:

* Reforming appraisal and underwriting practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Greening federal banking regulations

* Promoting flexible FHA insurance products

* Integrating energy efficiency and sustainability criteria into competitive grants and funding formulas

* Strengthening minimum property standards for federal housing and economic development programs to reflect energy efficiency and sustainability standards

* Improving performance standards applicable to federal buildings and leases

* Refining guidance applicable to the energy efficient commercial buildings tax deduction and the national historic preservation tax credit

* Using SBA funding mechanisms to support small business energy efficiency investments

* Streamlining Title 17 loan guarantees to make them suitable for buildings

“As an early adopter of green buildings and the LEED green building certification system, the federal government has been a leader in bringing green buildings to cities and towns across America,” said Roger Platt, the USGBC’s senior vice president of Global Policy & Law declared. “This new report unveils an even larger opportunity for the Obama Administration to increase our nation’s energy efficiency, while creating thousands of jobs and saving taxpayers money.”


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