On the heels of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its own investment in a key component of that plan.


The president made it clear that he considers building energy efficiency to be a cornerstone in the effort to fight global warming. Recognizing that goal, on July 17, the DOE announced an award of $10 million for six projects that will reduce energy consumption and save energy costs in small commercial buildings.


According to the DOE, small commercial buildings have less than 50,000 square feet of floor space. The category includes schools, churches, strip malls, restaurants and grocery stores. In underscoring the role of small commercial buildings in the larger battle against greenhouse emissions, the DOE notes that small buildings make up more than 90 percent of the nation’s commercial building sector, which consumes about 20 percent of all U.S. energy.


The awards include $1.9 million to New York-based BlocPower, which will develop a crowd-sourcing website to help market, finance and install energy-­efficiency retrofits for 1,500 small buildings across the country.


Florida-based EcoCity Partners will receive $323,000 for a project to design and offer prepackaged technology retrofit options by building type and size, business type, and climate zone for small commercial building owners.


Ecology Action of Santa Cruz, Calif., will receive $2 million to leverage its existing network of contractors to use low-cost, high-impact tools to analyze and implement deep energy retrofits and financing options that are appropriate to small buildings.


The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will receive $2 million to partner with Architecture 2030 to develop a 2030 District program for small commercial office and retail buildings.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been awarded $2 million to partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide low-cost energy-efficiency services to small businesses in California, New York, Washington and Wisconsin.


Finally, the Southface Energy Institute has been awarded $1.9 million to help develop simple, affordable energy-efficiency evaluations and upgrade tools that meet or exceed the Architecture 2030 targets.


The combined $10 million in awards will be leveraged to generate an additional $14 million in private-sector funding.