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White House Fact Sheet: Commitments and Executive Actions to Advance Solar Deployment and Energy Efficiency

Published May 9, 2014

On May 9, 2014, the White House announced federal and private commitments to create more investments and jobs in solar energy.

New executive actions:

Solar is a vital component of the Administration's all-of the above energy strategy. Supported by historic investments in research, development, and deployment, the price of solar technologies has decreased and the U.S. solar market has experienced rapid growth since President Obama took office. The President is committed to continuing this momentum. That's why, last month, the White House hosted a Solar Summit to honor cross-sector leadership on solar and announce new steps to expand the use of solar in our homes, businesses, and schools. Today, the President is announcing new initiatives to further support solar deployment and create good paying American jobs that can't be outsourced.
  • Building a Skilled Solar Workforce: To enable a skilled workforce to support the growth of solar deployment across America, the DOE's Solar Instructor Training Network will support training programs at community colleges across the country that will assist 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020. This builds upon SunShot's existing Solar Instructor Training Network of nearly 400 community colleges in 49 states that have trained over 22,000 people to join the solar industry since 2010. These community colleges include:

    • San Francisco City College, San Francisco, CA
    • Oglala Lakota Community College, Kyle, SD (Oglala Lakota Tribe)
    • Kankakee Community College, Kankakee, IL
    • St. Phillips College, San Antonio, TX
    • Forsyth Technical Community College, Winston Salem, NC
    • Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA

HUD and DOE are also partnering to advance available educational opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to support energy literacy and employment opportunities in the solar sector for public housing residents.

  • Providing Innovative Financing for Deploying Solar: Building on the success of the Defense Department's coordinated efforts to purchase renewables – and leverage its buying power to deploy clean energy technologies like solar – the General Services Administration is identifying opportunities for potential Federal Aggregated Solar Procurements in both the National Capital Region and Northern California. The effort seeks to bring together multiple Federal agencies to capitalize on economies of scale with the goal of lower electricity bills for individual sites, and increased renewable energy production, while reducing internal agency overhead costs by sharing procurement and project management resources.

In addition, in a step forward for renewable energy, the Treasury Department and IRS will shortly clarify how certain investment rules relate to renewable energy installations. This is important because real estate investment trusts (REITs), a key component of many retail investors' portfolios, generally hold only real property. The new guidance will provide clarity regarding the treatment of renewable energy installations in REITs, thereby helping to promote investment in the sector.


Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce carbon pollution. That's why the President established a new goal for energy efficiency standards in his Climate Action Plan and directed his Administration to reduce barriers to investment in energy efficiency and expand the Better Buildings Challenge. As part of the President's Year of Action the Administration has already issued three proposed and four final energy efficiency standards, expanded the Better Buildings Challenge to include multifamily housing, and announced new funding for innovative energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. To further reduce the amount of energy consumed by American families, cut down on their energy bills, and create jobs, today, the President announced new initiatives to:

  • Drive $2 Billion in Energy Efficiency Investments for Federal Buildings: Today, President Obama is announcing an additional $2 billion goal in federal energy efficiency upgrades to Federal buildings over the next 3 years. Today's challenge, in combination with the initial commitment of $2 billion in 2011, will result in a total of $4 billion in energy efficiency performance contracts in the Federal sector through 2016. These investments will save Americans billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector. The $2 billion investment announced today extends and expands the President's commitment to energy upgrades of Federal buildings using long-term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at no net cost to taxpayers. Federal agencies have already committed to a pipeline of nearly $2.7 billion in projects.

  • Breaking through Market and Technical Barriers: As part of the President's Climate Action Plan, the Energy Department created three Better Building Accelerators in December 2013 to support and encourage ongoing state- and local government-led effort to save money and energy. Building off of this progress, today, DOE is launching a High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator to increase the adoption and use of high efficiency outdoor lighting in the public sector. This Accelerator is aimed at replacing more than 500,000 outdoor lighting poles and developing best practice approaches to municipal system-wide upgrades. The charter cities include:

    • Detroit, MI
    • Mid-America Regional Council representing Kansas City, MO metro area
    • West Palm Beach, FL
    • Little Rock, AK
    • Huntington Beach, CA

  • Improve Appliance Efficiency: Today, DOE is issuing two final energy efficiency conservation standards. One standard for electric motors, which are frequently used to power devices such as conveyor belts and escalators, another standard for walk-in coolers and freezers, such as those used to display milk in supermarkets. Through 2030, these standards will help cut carbon pollution by about 158 million metric tons – equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 21 million U.S. homes and will save consumers over $26 billion on their energy bills. Since June, the Department has issued nine proposed and five final energy conservation standards, and when combined with the final rules already issued under this Administration, will surpass 70 percent of the President's goal of reducing carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030.

  • Strengthen Building Codes: Today, the Department of Energy is preliminarily affirming that industry's latest commercial building energy code – the 2013 edition of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 – provide an additional 8.5 percent energy savings over the previous Standard, and up to 30 percent savings compared to today's predominant state energy codes. The updated code will help states and the Federal government save money and energy on building operations and cut emissions by 230 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030. Since 2009, improved codes for residential and commercial buildings have already saved U.S. homes and businesses $44 billion on their energy bills, today's action builds off of this progress.

  • Expand Multifamily Housing Energy Finance Solutions Through Green Preservation Plus: Fannie Mae and HUD/The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the expansion of the Green Preservation Plus program, an enhanced financing option aimed at preserving quality affordable housing by encouraging the investment in energy- and water-saving property improvements. Green Preservation Plus, formerly Green Refinance Plus, is a Fannie Mae-FHA Multifamily mortgage loan execution that provides extra loan proceeds to owners of affordable housing properties to make energy- and water-efficient property improvements. To be eligible for a Green Preservation Plus mortgage loan, owners must commit to making energy- and water-saving improvements in an amount equal to at least 5% of the mortgage loan amount. These improvements can significantly reduce energy and water consumption at the property, thereby improving the operating income for the owner, lowering utility costs for tenants and the updating the property.

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