Administration To Act On Greening Of U.S. Building Stock

The Obama Administration is authorized to play a more active and supportive role in encouraging and progressing the energy efficiency and sustainability of America’s multifamily and commercial building stock, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and other leading organizations in energy, housing, environment, and real estate.

The legal analysis, “Using Executive Authority to Achieve Greener Buildings: A Guide for Policymakers to Enhance Sustainability and Efficiency in Multifamily Housing and Commercial Buildings,” concludes that under current executive authority, the Obama Administration has the ability to use over 30 existing federal programs worth $72 billion to enhance efficiency in commercial buildings and multifamily housing, with no new legislation.

“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, Senior Vice President, Global Policy & Law, USGBC. “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.”

The report presents an extensive menu of options across an array of programs, which the Obama Administration could begin implementing immediately without having to seek new funds or authority from Congress. Some of the most promising options with the largest reach include:

  • Reforming appraisal and underwriting practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • Greening” federal banking regulation;
  • Promoting flexible FHA insurance products, especially Section 241;
  • 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; and
  • Streamlining Title 17 loan guarantees to make them suitable for buildings.

The report was prepared by Van Ness Feldman. Other sponsors of the report include The Real Estate Roundtable, UDR, Johnson Controls, Inc., The Energy Foundation, Building Owners and Managers Association International, The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Energy Future Coalition, and C3.

For a PDF of the executive summary, click this link. To request a copy of the full report, send an e-mail to with the words “US Building Stock Report” in the subject line of the e-mail.