Vice President Biden kicked off five days of administration events around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day yesterday with the announcement of the selection of 25 communities for up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to “ramp-up” energy-efficiency building retrofits. Under the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, communities, governments, private sector companies and non-profit organizations will work together on pioneering and innovative programs for concentrated and broad-based retrofits of neighborhoods and towns-and eventually entire states.

These partnerships will support large-scale retrofits and make energy efficiency accessible to hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses. The models created through this program are expected to save households and businesses about $100 million annually in utility bills, while leveraging private sector resources, to create what funding recipients estimate to be about 30,000 jobs across the country during the next three years.

“For 40 years, Earth Day has focused on transforming the way we use energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuel-but this year, because of the historic clean energy investments in the Recovery Act, we’re poised to make greater strides than ever in building a nationwide clean energy economy,” said Biden. “This investment in some of the most innovative energy-efficiency projects across the country will not only help homeowners and businesses make cost-cutting retrofit improvements, but also create jobs right here in America.”

“This initiative will help overcome the barriers to making energy efficiency easy and accessible to all-inconvenience, lack of information and lack of financing,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, we will make our communities more energy efficient and help families save money. At the same time, we’ll create thousands of jobs and strengthen our economy.”

In addition to the $452 million Recovery Act investment, the 25 announced projects will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion from other sources over the next three years to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country. Overall, the program funding was eight times oversubscribed, with more than $3.5 billion in applications received for the just over $450 million in Recovery Act funds available, indicating significant demand for investment in energy-saving and job-creating projects like these nationwide.

Grantees will employ innovative financing models to make these savings accessible, by, for example, offering low- and no-interest loans that are repaid through property tax and utility bills. In implementing these projects, grantees will deliver verified energy savings and incorporate sustainable business models to ensure that buildings will continue to be retrofitted after Recovery Act funds are spent. The DOE will use the lessons learned from these pilot programs to develop best-practice guides to comprehensive retrofit programs that can be adopted and implemented by other communities across the country.

The Retrofit Ramp-Up projects, which are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, complement the Obama administration’s Recovery through Retrofit initiative, which lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining and robust home energy-efficiency industry. The awards are the competitive portion of the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency and reducing energy use and fossil fuel emissions.

The following governments and non-profit organizations have been selected for Retrofit Ramp-Up awards. These projects are planned to begin in fall 2010. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation:
  • Austin, Texas: $10 million
  • Boulder County, Colorado: $25 million
  • Camden, New Jersey: $5 million
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning: $25 million
  • Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, Ohio: $17 million
  • Greensboro, North Carolina: $5 million
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: $10 million
  • Kansas City, Missouri: $20 million
  • Los Angeles County, California: $30 million
  • Lowell, Massachusetts: $5 million
  • State of Maine: $30 million
  • State of Maryland: $20 million
  • State of Michigan: $30 million
  • State of Missouri: $5 million
  • Omaha, Nebraska: $10 million
  • State of New Hampshire: $10 million
  • New York State Research and Development Authority: $40 million
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $25 million
  • Phoenix, Arizona: $25 million
  • Portland, Oregon: $20 million
  • San Antonio, Texas: $10 million
  • Seattle, Washington: $20 million
  • Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance: $20 million
  • Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Ohio: $15 million
  • Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation : $20 million
Administration Official Earth Day Events and Activities

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Washington, D.C.
Salazar will make remarks on the National Mall for Take a Child to Work/40th Anniversary Earth Day/Buddy the Bison Hike sponsored by the National Park Service. It is anticipated that 500 hundred local students will participate in the event.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
Jersey City, N.J.
Locke will speak at the Lincoln Park restoration project that is turning a landfill into a healthy wetland. NOAA funded this habitat restoration project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
Online Webchat
Solis will host a webchat to discuss issues and opportunities related to Earth Day. Also on Thursday, the Department of Labor will issue a report detailing green job training opportunities made available over the past year, including $490 million in Recovery Act funding for green jobs training.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Chicago, Ill.
Sebelius will hold an Earth Day health event with Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Ron Sims at a Chicago Public Housing Authority site.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan
Washington, D.C.
Donovan will deliver remarks at the Earth Day Network’s 40th Anniversary of Earth Day rally on the National Mall, in which he will highlight the president’s Earth Day Call to Action and HUD’s efforts to develop more sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods while increasing green job and green housing opportunities for families across the country.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
Chicago, Ill.
LaHood will attend an Earth Day event at Daley Plaza that includes a school climate video competition for participating school groups and will have alternative fuel vehicles on display.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu
Washington, D.C.
Chu will speak at an Earth Day celebration for DOE employees. He will also hold a clean energy event on Friday, April 23, in Philadelphia, Pa., to focus on the benefits of energy efficiency.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan
Washington, D.C.
Duncan will deliver remarks at a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day at the National Mall in Washington. Duncan will discuss how education can play a role in developing a green economy.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
New York City
The administrator will participate in an urban-focused community service project with Green For All at the Grant Houses Community Garden in Manhattan. Jackson will take a tour of the garden, deliver remarks to press, students and volunteers, and participate in a planting activity with volunteers. The administrator will also be a guest on the David Letterman Show to talk about the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the president’s clean energy and green jobs agenda.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the EPA will be hosting a celebration event April 24-25 on the National Mall. The event will feature a variety of interactive, family-friendly exhibits that highlight the work of the agency and celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Administrator Jackson will appear on the National Mall on Friday to visit the Office of Research and Development’s P3 student participants and recognize winners. P3 is the next step beyond P2-pollution prevention-and focuses on the three components of sustainability: people, prosperity and the planet.

Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler
Washington, D.C.
Grindler will attend the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division’s (ENRD) Earth Day 2010 event at Marvin Gaye Park, where it has held its annual Earth Day service celebration since 2004. In those five years, the division has been able to help the park purchase over $7500 worth of trees and landscaping materials as part of the park revitalization event. ENRD has also devoted over 2500 hours of employee time to planting trees, removing trash, laying sod and gardening.

Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren
Berkeley, Calif.
Holdren will give a free public lecture on the topic of “Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being: Priorities and Policies in the Obama Administration,” to be held in Sibley Auditorium in the Bechtel Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Additional details about how you can participate in Earth Day events, as well as background information current projects, is available at

Have you or your company planned any Earth Day activities? We’d love to hear about them! Please share your Earth Day plans by posting a comment below.