Unions Take Up White House $4 Billion ‘Better Buildings Challenge’
From the AFL-CIO Blog:
At a White House event today featuring President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, AFT President Randi Weingarten represented labor leaders in joining university presidents and corporate executives in support of the presidential Better Buildings Challenge initiative.
President Obama announced that nearly $4 billion of investments have been committed already, including $2 billion by workers’ pension funds, CEOs, mayors and university presidents for energy-saving upgrades. The labor movement committed to work to invest $150 million in energy-efficient retrofit projects in the coming months.
The goal of the initiative, which builds on work begun by the AFL-CIO earlier this year with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), is to spur job creation by harnessing private sector investment in energy upgrades in commercial and industrial buildings.
Working with the AFT, a broad coalition of public-sector unions, and the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), the AFL-CIO has been part of a CGI initiative for the retrofitting of union buildings, and has already exceeded its initial commitment of working with existing real estate-focused investment funds to invest between $10 million and $20 million of additional capital in energy-efficient retrofits of commercial, industrial, institutional and public buildings over the next six months.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who has been pushing for infrastructure and green-jobs investment at all levels, said in a statement:
The Better Buildings initiative has all the right components to make a real difference—it will create profitable investment opportunities for worker pension funds, create badly needed good jobs, increase America’s competitiveness around energy savings, and address the dangers of climate change.
Today’s action builds on 14 private sector commitments announced at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in June, including the labor movement’s aim to invest $10 billion in pension fund assets in job-creating infrastructure projects over the next five years.
The AFT has been retrofitting its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., to become LEED Silver certified, and the AFL-CIO has committed to a Better Buildings Challenge retrofit of its headquarters, expected to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. As Weingarten explains:
We not only are asking others to commit to energy-saving retrofits, but we’re also doing it ourselves.