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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Andy, and thank you all for being here.

The world has reached an energy crossroads.

Rising global energy demand and the need for more environmentally-responsible energy production and consumption have presented us with a number of global challenges that require global solutions.

Every American has a role to play in meeting these challenges.

And that's why I am very pleased to be here at the International Builders' Show, to tour the floor and to see the technologies that are penetrating the marketplace - many of which originated in DOE's network of world-class national laboratories.

I also pleased to be here with the National Association of Home Builders and with NAHB's Vice President, Bob Jones, to launch the Department of Energy's Builders' Challenge -- Bob, thank you for coming.

The Challenge is a new national energy savings program calling on the U.S. homebuilding industry to build 220,000 new high performance homes by 2012.  Under its terms, a high performance home is one using at least 30 percent less energy than a typical new home meeting the criteria of the latest national model building code.

I am pleased that 38 homebuilders - including 22 who are represented here today - have accepted the challenge.  They have volunteered to take the pledge to construct homes meeting this ambitious efficiency target.  We expect that these partners will build at least 6,000 homes across the country this year.  As the challenge expands and more home builders sign on, we hope to spur the construction of 1.3 million high energy performance homes by 2030.

If we reach that level, we will have helped Americans achieve cumulative savings of $1.7 billion in energy costs and have taken the carbon equivalent of 606,000 cars off the road annually.

These new, energy efficient homes will have to meet the Department of Energy's Building America Program's performance criteria for comfort, health and quality.  And they will all be rated according to DOE's new EnergySmart Home Scale - an innovation we believe will help consumers make better informed, more energy efficient choices when buying a new home.

This new scale rates a new home's energy performance, enabling homebuyers to make smart energy decisions.   Homes built today typically average a rating of 100 on this scale.  Builders' Challenge participants have agreed to construct homes achieve a rating of 70 or lower, making them approximately 30 percent more energy efficient than a typical new home - the lower the rating, the greater the energy efficiency.

It makes imminent sense to have full transparency and disclosure where home energy performance is concerned - they are easily the largest energy intensive investment most people will ever make.  Just as we know how appliances and cars use energy, we can now begin to see the energy use patterns of our homes over their lifecycle.

The ultimate goal is to have all new homes achieve a zero rating- making them net-zero energy homes, producing at least as much energy as they consume.  This EnergySmart Home Scale or E-Scale label, simply put, is the home buyer's equivalent of the fuel efficiency sticker that appears in the window of every new car.

These labels, which will be put on the household electrical panel, will both identify the home as a Builders' Challenge home and provide the home's EnergySmart score in an easy to comprehend way that shows how energy efficient a particular home is expected to be.

Together, the Builders' Challenge and the E-Scale will help home builders think about energy in a more consumer- and environmentally friendly way and help them differentiate their homes in the marketplace.  And, by creating an objective, comparative rating system to measure energy efficiency, consumers will now be able to get the data they deserve to have to make informed choices by allowing them to understand homes on the basis of projected energy consumption.

This effort supports President Bush's challenge to all of us to change the way we think about energy and to change the ways we produce it and consume it.  I have often said the most readily available and plentiful source of energy is the energy that is wasted every day.  By being more energy efficient, we will get more out of producing and using less energy.  By definition, we will become more productive, less energy intensive and be better positioned to manage the new energy realities that lie ahead.

The Department of Energy has invested billions of dollars into ongoing research and development of new, energy efficient technologies and continues to elevate efficiency as one of our most important priorities.

We've invested heavily in the development of technologies at the Department of Energy's network of world-class national laboratories.  DOE has helped America to increase its energy efficiency through innovative public-private partnerships.  And we've promoted education, outreach and deployment of new clean energy technologies through a number of activities, including one that I am particularly fond of - the DOE's Solar Decathlon, which the NAHB cosponsors.

The Solar Decathlon is a competition held every two years in our nation's capital.  At the Decathlon, some of the world's best and brightest engineering and design students have the opportunity to demonstrate commercially viable ways to power homes using transformative building technologies.

Overall, the picture is bright - and getting brighter.  Since the 1980s, the U.S. has more than doubled its energy efficiency - increasing our energy productivity and national competitiveness - but we need to do much more.

The Builders' Challenge is very much a part of that.  It accelerates the deployment of high-efficiency building technologies, making them available more quickly in the marketplace and accessible to home builders and home buyers alike.  The Challenge is an example of the market working to produce efficiency gains in response to consumer demand, reducing our carbon footprint and transforming the built environment.

We are doing all this in order to keep America's economy strong.  To keep America as a force for job creation, to keep us globally competitive, we need to use our existing energy supplies more wisely and more efficiently.  This is a responsibility we all share.   The Builders' Challenge is a part of this effort.  I want to congratulate and thank the pioneers for their leadership and to say again how pleased I am to be here to help inaugurate the Builders' Challenge.

Thank you.

Location: Orlando, Florida

Media contact(s): Julie Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940