Coalition for Better Buildings

Category Archive: News

New Senate Bill Would Spur Job Creation in Hard-Hit Construction Industry via Under-Used Building Energy Efficiency Tax Deduction

“Commercial Building Modernization Act” Endorsed by Diverse Coalition of Real Estate Industry, Energy and Environmental Advocates

(Washington, DC, Sept. 27, 2012) – Legislation recently introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) — joined by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) as co-sponsors — would create thousands of U.S. construction and manufacturing jobs by spurring energy efficient retrofits of commercial and multifamily buildings, according to an industry-conservation alliance that includes The Real Estate Roundtable, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The “Commercial Building Modernization Act” (S. 3591) would extend and improve the existing federal tax deduction (Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code) by leveraging vast sums of private sector investment for technology-neutral, performance-based retrofits. Although the deduction has been available for years (enacted as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005), it has been cumbersome and costly for building owners to apply Section 179D for comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits. As a result, the current deduction has mostly been used for partial building system upgrades — when used at all.

The reformed 179D tax deduction would generate more than 77,000 construction, manufacturing, and service jobs throughout the country — while achieving greater national energy security and independence — according to a a 2011 analysis released by USGBC, NRDC and The Roundtable.

“The Snowe-Bingaman legislation is exactly the type of forward-thinking policy America needs right now,” said Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey D. DeBoer. “Saving energy is cheaper than producing energy. Modest incentives such as a reformed 179D tax deduction give us great bang-for-the-buck in terms of creating jobs, saving businesses billions of dollars on utility bills, and leveraging private sector funds to enhance GDP and jump-start the sluggish economic recovery.”

“This bipartisan legislation demonstrates how tax policy supporting energy efficiency and green building concepts in the places we live and work can create jobs and support innovation in the private sector,” said Roger Platt, Senior Vice President for Global Policy and Law at the U.S. Green Building Council. “Saving money and creating better buildings makes good sense from any perspective, and the potential of 77,000 new jobs and billions in energy savings is just the tip of the iceberg.”

“This is a win-win for the economy and the environment. This bill will give the right people the right tools they need to make our nation’s buildings more efficient, allowing building owners, architects and engineers and other stakeholders to help us reduce carbon pollution,” said Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “By targeting the incentive for retrofits and focusing on real energy savings, this bill will reduce energy bills, create jobs and clean up the air we breathe.”

For more information regarding the Commercial Building Modernization Act, please contact:

Bob Keefe (202/289/2373;

Xenia Jowyk (202/639-8400;
Scott Sherwood (202/639-8400;

Ashley Katz (202/742-3738;

About The Real Estate Roundtable
The Real Estate Roundtable brings together leaders of the nation’s publicly-held and privately owned real estate ownership, development, lending and management firms with the leaders of national real estate trade associations to jointly address key national policy issues relating to real estate and the overall economy. Participating trade associations represent more than 1.5 million people involved in virtually every aspect of the real estate business. For more information, visit

About U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
The U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation
through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. With a community comprising 79 local affiliates, nearly 16,000 member organizations, and more than 187,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. GDP from 2009-2013. For more information, visit

About The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at

Snowe, Bingaman, Feinstein, Cardin Introduce New Energy Efficiency Legislation

Bill to simplify commercial building tax deduction to reduce nation's energy consumption

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R‐Maine), Jeff Bingaman (D‐New Mexico), Dianne Feinstein (D‐California), and Ben Cardin (D‐Maryland) have introduced the “Commercial Building Modernization Act” (S. 3591), legislation to reform, extend, and simplify the Section 179D tax deduction for energy efficient commercial and multi‐family buildings. The bipartisan bill, filed last Thursday, will extend the Section 179D tax deduction, which is scheduled to expire at the end of next year, through the end of 2016, while modifying the tax deduction to target retrofits of existing commercial buildings. The current deduction has been labeled both costly and cumbersome for building owners to apply Section 179D for comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits, resulting in it being used currently for partial building system upgrades. The legislation has been endorsed by American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, the Real Estate Roundtable, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), who have estimated in a joint report that a reformed 179D tax deduction would generate more than 77,000 construction, manufacturing, and service jobs nationwide.

“By making commonsense reforms to the existing 179D tax deduction, we will help encourage energy savings, create good‐paying jobs in the construction industry, and reduce energy bills for American consumers,” said Senator Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Our legislation would also make this critical incentive more accessible and effective for existing buildings that are currently using inefficient lighting systems, antiquated heating and cooling systems, and poor insulation. By targeting this tax credit for retrofits we can bolster a beleaguered construction industry that has experienced unemployment levels of more that 20 percent, and lower the cost of energy for our nation's businesses.”

“Extending, modifying and simplifying this important tax deduction will help building owners and their tenants reduce their energy consumption, helping to boost their bottom lines, said Senator Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. “Additionally, it will help create thousands of new retro‐fit industry jobs across the country. It is my hope that Congress passes this key piece of legislation before the end of the year.”

“Building efficiency improvements are a smart, cost‐effective way to reduce pollution, increase the competitiveness of our employers and put people back to work in the building trades,” said Senator Feinstein. “This bill has been long discussed and carefully considered. It will improve the effectiveness of a tax incentive that has the potential to make thousands of businesses more competitive and create good jobs right here in the United States.”

“Energy efficiency is good business and good policy,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance and Environment and Public Works Committees. “The Commercial Building Modernization Act creates American jobs, saves money for businesses big and small, and ensures that our local communities have modern infrastructure friendly to the environment and ready for the future.”

President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Urges Congress to Pass Incentives to Create Jobs Through Building Energy Retrofits

Beginning at 33:20:  “Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.”


C4BB Members Pledge Commitments as Part of Obama Administration’s “Better Buildings Challenge”

As President Obama and former President Clinton announced at the White House on December 2, 60 private sector and government partners in the “Better Buildings Challenge” have made aggregate commitments of nearly $2 billion dollars to improve energy efficiency across approximately 1.4 billion square feet of office, industrial, hospitality, and other commercial real estate space.  The Obama Administration further announced that it will direct $2 billion to a 2-year effort across the Federal government's real estate portfolio to encourage maximum use of "performance-based contracting," a mechanism whereby the expenses of efficiency retrofit projects are guaranteed by third parties to pay for themselves with savings from lower energy costs.


President Obama and former President Bill Clinton announce a $4 billion investment in energy efficiency upgrades for commercial buildings. (December 2, 2011) View the written remarks here.

C4BB members who are participating in the Better Buildings Challenge include Johnson Controls, Inc., Jones Lang LaSalle, Lend Lease, Metrus, Schneider Electric, Transwestern, and USAA Real Estate.  Additional members of The Real Estate Roundtable and U.S. Green Building Council have also agreed to make commitments as part of The Better Buildings Challenge, to share information, showcase projects, and offer solutions to transform a market for building retrofits.  

Jobs creation is the significant objective behind the BBC.  Well-paying, domestic jobs to retrofit buildings with energy efficiency upgrades will re-employ construction workers directly at job sites, with a rippling effect throughout the economy that will also spur manufacturing, engineering, service sector, and other employment opportunities.

A jobs analysis released last June, timed with the BBC's initial launch, estimated that approximately 13 "green jobs" are created for every $1 million of investments in building retrofits.  That analysis was commissioned in partnership by the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Real Estate Roundtable, and the U.S. Green Building Council.  With the $4 billion committed in The White House’s Dec. 2 announcement, 50,000 green jobs could be created to get Americans back to work by modernizing buildings throughout our nation's cities and suburbs.

Read a Press Release by the Real Estate Roundtable

Read a Press Release by the US Green Building Council

Read a Blog by USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chairman Rick Fedrizzi

Learn more about how 179D fits into the President's BBI Announcement

Better Buildings Highlighted on CNBC’s Squawk Box

CNBC's Squawk Box featured Robert S. Taubman, Chairman, President and CEO of Taubman Centers, Inc, and the Chairman-Elect of The Real Estate Roundtable and guest host, William C. Rudin, Vice Chairman and CEO of Rudin Management Company, Inc, and a member of RER’s Board of Directors. (December 6, 2011)


President Clinton discusses how clean energy technology is key to job creation and economic recovery

Former President Bill Clinton joins MSNBC Morning Joe to discuss his new book, "Back to Work," which focuses on how a smart economy and a smart government can get the country working again.  Loan guarantees for building retrofits can create jobs, at the 12:50 mark.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Job Creation Efforts Focused on Building Retofit Projects Endorsed by Real Estate, Energy, and Environmental Coalition


Download the Press Release

WASHINGTON – A broad spectrum of real estate, business, lending, manufacturing, environmental and energy efficiency organizations led by The Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council have launched a joint initiative focused on energy efficiency policies that will create new jobs and boost economic growth.

Utilizing their newly launched website – or – the "Coalition for Better Buildings" initiative will focus on public policy issues such as retrofitting the nation's commercial building stock, which will spark employment in the hard-hit construction sector and reduce energy consumption.

The website includes an analysis that finds more than 114,000 well-paying, domestic jobs can be created with modest federal incentives. The coalition analysis shows how energy efficiency upgrades would have a ripple effect throughout the economy, generating new manufacturing, production and service jobs while demonstrating how public funds can leverage far greater amounts of private investment to retrofit commercial and large multifamily buildings.

Continue reading “Job Creation Efforts Focused on Building Retofit Projects Endorsed by Real Estate, Energy, and Environmental Coalition” »

C4BB Members Brief Senate Staff on How to Improve Section 179D Energy Efficiency Tax Incentive

At a session convened by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), on Wednesday, September 7 Coalition for Better Building (“C4BB”) members briefed Senate staff members on their companies’ and organizations’ experiences with energy efficiency retrofits and how federal incentives in this area (particularly tax code Section 179D) could be improved. As Senators Bingaman and Snowe explained in an Aug. 26 “Dear Colleague” letter, building owners have not widely claimed a 2005 Energy Policy Act provision that provides a deduction for new or retrofitted energy efficient commercial buildings.

Speaking at the briefing were Anthony E. Malkin (President, Malkin Holdings and owner of the Empire State Building); Brad Molotsky (General Counsel and Secretary, Brandywine Realty Trust); Kyle Pitsor, Vice President for Government relation, National Electrical Manufacturers Association; Lane Burt, technical Policy Director, U.S. Green Building Council; and Duane Desiderio, Vice President and Counsel, The Real Estate Roundtable. Continue reading “C4BB Members Brief Senate Staff on How to Improve Section 179D Energy Efficiency Tax Incentive” »

Presidents Clinton and Obama Talk Up Better Buildings Challenge

In an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in New York on Sept. 21, President Obama joined President Clinton in discussing the jobs that can be created by retrofitting our nation’s building infrastructure. President Obama touted his Administration’s Better Buildings Initiative (BBI) “to rehire construction workers to make our buildings more energy-efficient.” Obama also cited the Better Buildings Challenge, under which organizations and companies pledge to help meet the Administration’s goal to make buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020. At a CGI America meeting in Chicago last June, the Administration announced initial commitments under the Better Buildings Challenge – including those made by Coalition for Better Buildings (C4BB) members — to upgrade 300 million square feet of space, from military housing to college campuses.

“Some of these projects are breaking ground this month, putting people to work right now,” Obama said, adding, “Later this year, we’ll announce more commitments that will create jobs, while saving billions for businesses on energy bills and cutting down on our pollution.” For remarks by Presidents Obama and Clinton, go to The White House’s webpage.

At the September 21 meeting, CGI also announced a commitment and industry partnership to reduce energy use by the commercial real estate sector by boosting the market for energy-efficient commercial tenant space. The three-year project is a collaboration between CGI, Goldman Sachs, Greenprint Foundation, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, Malkin Holdings, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Vornado Realty Trust, and YR&G. For more information, click here.