We are now four years into the Better Buildings initiative, a program that aims to improve energy use in commercial, residential and public buildings by 20 percent over a 10-year period. I attended the annual summit in May, along with 900 others, to hear firsthand about some encouraging progress, as well as some educational gaps that still exist when it comes to the impact of windows on energy efficiency.

To summarize quickly, Better Buildings brings together public and private sector stakeholders to reduce energy consumption by focusing on four strategic areas: developing innovative, replicable solutions with market leaders, making energy efficiency investment easier, federal leadership by example and developing a skilled clean energy workforce.

Here is some of the progress made so far, as of the 2015 summit:

  • More than $10 billion has been committed to greater efficiency (through federal, state, and local leadership on performance contracting and commitments by financial allies in the Better Buildings Challenge) with more than $4.5 billion invested in projects.
  • There have been more than $840 million in energy savings for Better Buildings Challenge participants since it was introduced; and
  • More than 4,500 properties have achieved greater than 20 percent energy savings.


In addition to the annual summit, the 2015 Better Buildings Progress Report was recently released. Among other updates, the report outlines all of the key initiatives that are driving early success of the program. As you’ll see in the full report, the progress to date can be attributed to a number of factors, one of which is the ongoing recognition of building owners and managers for their energy-saving investments.

For example, utilities are sharing incentive programs that rely less on rebates and financial incentives in favor of recognition and education programs, along with negotiated low interest loans. Many of these programs generate leads for participants as a reward for “deep energy saving renovations.”

I personally talked to a number of state-level program managers who have had exciting successes encouraging consumers to invest in energy savings, as well as utilities that are looking at similar models for incentives they plan to provide.

More Participation Is Needed from Fenestration Professionals

In all of my conversations, I was amazed at how little participants knew about window performance and options to improve energy efficiency. The View from Here is that, as an industry, we need to do a better job of participating in events like this and increasing awareness of the importance of energy-saving building components in the commercial market.

To increase our presence in these conversations, I encourage readers to follow Better Buildings programs, review the list of high-profile participants and allies (see page 27 of report), and look for activity in your market areas where you can make an impact.

What’s your view? Email me directly at Eric.Jackson@Quanex.com.

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