The Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) recently commended the Obama administration for recognizing in its proposed FY 2011 budget the importance of well-funded federal energy efficiency programs in moving the U.S. toward economic health.

The ASE is a Washington-based coalition of business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security.

"The administration's FY 2011 budget request evidences that President Obama remains steadfast in his march to quickly and widely deploy energy efficiency, even as he has proposed to scale back or end many other programs across the federal government to address mounting deficits," said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. "We are encouraged that the president and his team recognize that significant and sustained federal funding for energy efficiency is particularly important in today's economy, because such investments have a proven track record of strong returns for the nation in the form of new jobs, increased private sector investment and lower monthly energy costs for consumers and businesses alike."

The budget request includes a $31 million boost — to $231 million — to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Building Technologies Program, which supports building energy codes, equipment standards, energy efficient commercial buildings and a variety of research and development programs. In addition, budget increases are requested for the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), which oversees implementation of a presidential executive order mandating energy savings in federal facilities, and DOE's portion of the Energy Star Program.

"We applaud the modest increases requested for these key programs in an overall DOE energy efficiency budget that is essentially flat — which is a testament to how essential these programs are, even at a time of federal budget constraint," Callahan said, adding: "We are disappointed, however, that the proposed increase to the EPA Energy Star Program — an essential tool for helping to drive energy efficient products, services and buildings into the marketplace — received a far too modest increase of only about 5 percent, to $55.4 million."

The ASE will urge Congress to appropriate substantially more funding to the EPA Energy Star Program than has been requested, and will work to ensure that Congress provides at least the levels of funding recommended by the administration, if not more, for the DOE energy efficiency-related programs.

The total DOE budget request for energy efficiency programs in FY 2011 is $2.35 billion, which is slightly above FY 2010 funding.