Obama Building Efficiency Upgrades Get Rolling

A $4 billion, public-private Obama administration plan to promote building energy efficiency upgrades over the next two years, announced in December, appears to be taking root. And not surprisingly, it’s happening with the military, a key driver of government green programs. Johnson Controls, the diverse Milwaukee-based company with a big building-efficiency arm, said it struck a $16 million deal for work at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The company said it will install 5,500 solar panels as well as new utility monitoring and control systems for 120 buildings at Fort Bliss. When he unveiled the efficiency program President Obama promised it would entail no upfront costs to taxpayers, and that’s exactly how Johnson Controls described the Fort Bliss project: The Army won’t own the solar installation, and the cost of the improvements “will be paid for over time with energy costs saved on utility bills,” Johnson Controls said. The company said it was guaranteeing energy-use reductions to the Army that will lead to savings of $39 million over 24 years.

Fort Bliss

image via Johnson Controls

“The U.S. Army has truly embraced the recent directives calling for new energy efficiency measures,” Dave Myers, president of Building Efficiency for Johnson Controls, said in a statement. “Fort Bliss is a great example for other U.S. military installations by taking advantage of available financing methods to fund projects that more than pay for themselves through energy cost savings.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.