Sparking a Clean Energy Revolution
Among a host of new federal programs aiming to spur innovations in technology, the Obama administration has launched the $400 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). ARPA-E is a new Department of Energy organization modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the defense agency that produced the Internet, stealth aircraft, and many other technological breakthroughs. 

ARPA-E will award grants that enhance the economic and energy security of the U.S. through breakthrough technologies; reduce the need for foreign oil; reduce energy-related emissions; improve the energy efficiency of all economic sectors; and ensure that the U.S. maintains the lead in advanced energy technologies. 

It will fund energy technology projects that translate scientific discoveries and cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations. It will also accelerate transformational technologies in high-risk areas that industry would not likely undertake independently. In addition to creating ARPA-E, the Department of Energy will be supporting 46 new Energy Frontier Research Centers, with a total planned commitment of $777 million. Roughly one-third of the centers will be supported by Recovery Act funding. 

The centers will enlist the talents and skills of leading scientists and engineers to address fundamental scientific roadblocks to clean energy and energy security. Involving almost 1,800 researchers and students from universities, national labs, companies, and non-profits from 36 states and the District of Columbia, the centers will address the full range of energy research challenges in renewable and carbon-neutral energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and cross-cutting science. Each center will receive $2 million to $5 million annually for an initial period of five years. 

These new programs have exciting implications for green building industry and the real estate market. Some of the outcomes of this new research and development will undoubtedly translate into greater building efficiency. For consumers and businesses increasingly looking to cut costs – whether they consider themselves green or not – energy efficiency and energy conservation can help attract interest in a property. In the end, energy initiatives like these can even help stimulate the real estate market. And that’s good news.
Debbie Vanderiet
Debbie Vanderiet