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Report identifies opportunities for Obama administration to green U.S. buildings 

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The Obama Administration is authorized to play a more active and supportive role in progressing the energy efficiency and sustainability of America’s multifamily and commercial building stock, according to a report released today by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, 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 more than 30 existing federal programs worth $72 billion to enhance efficiency in commercial buildings and multifamily housing, with no new legislation.

“This is a groundbreaking report that has the potential to yield significant environmental and financial returns,” said BOMA International Chair James A. Peck, who is also a senior director of asset services for CB Richard Ellis. “By acting on the opportunities outlined in the report, the Obama administration would serve as a leader and model for even wider private sector adoption of green buildings.”

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 (NYSE: UDR), Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI), The Energy Foundation, The American Institute of Architects, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, International Facility Management Association, Energy Future Coalition and C3.

To download the full report, visit usgbc.org/government.

BOMA San Diego is the local leading voice for the commercial real estate industry. The organization promotes the interests of a changing commercial real estate industry by encouraging partnerships in professional development, networking and advocacy. For more information, call 619 243-1817 or visit bomasd.org.

Doherty is the executive director of BOMA San Diego.

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