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Monday, December 5, 2011

Local firms join energy efficiency effort backed by Obama, Clinton

From an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Washington - President Barack Obama is enlisting former President Bill Clinton and companies including Briggs & Stratton Corp., Kohl's Corp., 3M and Alcoa Inc. in a $4 billion initiative to cut energy costs in buildings and encourage hiring for construction jobs.

The program, which the administration forecast would create tens of thousands of jobs, is expected to provide work for energy service contracting firms including Johnson Controls Inc. and Trane.

It combines $2 billion in energy-efficiency upgrades over two years for federal buildings along with commitments from companies, cities and universities to put $2 billion into similar efforts.

The improvements to government buildings will be made under an existing federal program that uses private financing, according to the administration. The goal: boost buildings' energy efficiency by at least 20% by 2020.

"This is good business" that will help create jobs and promote energy independence, Clinton said after he and Obama toured a building in Washington that is being retrofitted. "It's the nearest thing we've got to a free lunch in a tough economy."

Obama is expanding the "Better Building Initiative" he announced in February and joining it with a White House effort to spark hiring that was begun after the president's $447 billion jobs plan stalled in Congress.

Johnson Controls is among 17 contractors, including Honeywell International, Trane and Ameresco, that are active contractors in a government program that pays for energy-saving projects through the savings the government sees over time on its energy bills.

Friday's announcement is a sizable boost for a program that Johnson Controls has worked on since it launched in 1998, said Clay Nesler, Johnson Controls vice president.

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