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Obama touts energy efficiency at Penn State

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Obama touts energy efficiency initiative
  • The White House has set a goal of cutting commercial buildings' energy use by 20%
  • Obama says that would save businesses up to $40 billion a year
  • President praises Penn State's part in planned research facility

State College, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- President Barack Obama plugged his plans to boost energy conservation research Thursday during a visit to Pennsylvania, arguing that green technology will leave more green in Americans' wallets.

Building on the "Winning the Future" theme he introduced in the State of the Union speech last week, Obama told a crowd at Penn State University that fostering the construction of new, energy-efficient buildings could save businesses up to $40 billion a year in utility bills.

"Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution, and create jobs right here in the United States of America," he said.

The White House says its "Better Buildings Challenge" will spur businesses and universities to research energy conservation measures. It's part of a plan to reduce commercial buildings' energy use by 20% over the next decade.

Penn State is behind a research facility planned for the old Philadelphia Navy Yard complex, and Obama said the work done there "will lead to even more jobs."

"You show us the best ideas to change your game on the ground, and we will show you the money," he said.

Obama has proposed ending tax breaks for the oil and gas industry to pay for his administration's new focus on innovation, telling students Thursday, "It's time to stop subsidizing yesterday's energy and start investing in tomorrow's." The energy-efficiency measures Obama outlined follow $20 billion for energy programs in the 2009 economic stimulus bill, the White House says.