SMACNA is applauding President Barack Obama for his latest commercial facilities efficiency proposal called the “Better Buildings” initiative.

The association said the plan could save businesses nearly $40 billion yearly in utility bills during the next 10 years and drastically raise building productivity.

“SMACNA endorses President Obama’s Better Buildings initiative because increased energy efficiency in commercial buildings can quickly serve our nation’s goals for energy independence, national security, environment quality and skilled job creation, while slashing energy costs for building owners,” said Jim Boone, president of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association. “SMACNA members have been national leaders on the front line, delivering far greater energy efficiency in a very tough economy.”

In announcing the Better Buildings initiative, Obama said, “If you’re willing to make your buildings more energy efficient, we’ll provide new tax credits and financing opportunities for you to do so.”

He also noted that the initiative would give the private sector “cash upfront” to invest in energy efficient improvements.

The initiative, which is part of the president’s 2012 budget proposal, includes new tax incentives for building efficiency. It would provide more tax deductions with the goal of getting property owners to retrofit their buildings.

The government would also provide access to financing for energy products. The president’s budget proposes a new pilot program through the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for energy-efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.