The Department of Energy (DOE) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently signed an agreement that continues and expands a partnership between AIA and DOE's Building Programs. The memorandum of understanding was signed at the site of DOE's first-ever Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington.

"This agreement reaffirms the partnership between the Department of Energy and the American Institute of Architects that focuses on architectural design and education as tools to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy," said David Garman, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE. "The Solar Decathlon is a perfect example of this type of effort."

The Department of Energy develops strategic relationships with professional organizations, industry trade associations, and other groups in order to promote smart growth in communities, and energy-efficient, environmentally responsive buildings, in support of the goals of President Bush's National Energy Policy. DOE and AIA will continue their joint work by:

  • Creating buildings conducive to resource efficiency;
  • Encouraging improvements in the quality of indoor environment and occupant productivity;
  • Advocating increased use of renewable, clean energy sources;
  • Working to reduce the environmental impact of the built environment; and
  • Promoting global economic opportunities through internationally recognized high performance design and energy-efficient structures.

Commercial and residential buildings have great room for improvement when it comes to energy efficiency. Typically a building's energy expenses can be reduced by 25% to 30% by using the best technologies and practices. Commercial and residential electric power expenses are about $163 billion annually in the United States. A 25% reduction in energy use could save $40 billion per year. A similar cut in natural gas bills could save more than $11 billion per year.