Being energy efficient is becoming even more popular these days. It’s important to do your part to help keep the planet healthy. While you work on saying “paper” instead of “plastic” at the grocery store, or better yet, bringing your own reusable bag, there are also eco-friendly initiatives at the federal level.

In 2011, President Barack Obama started the Better Buildings Challenge in hopes of helping commercial and industrial structures become 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. Now the project has been expanded to include multifamily housing units after an extra $2 billion was donated by private companies.

For this project, the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working with all types of building owners to reduce energy waste. As a result, families who live in apartments will save money on their utility bills. To date, 50 multifamily partners have committed to cut their energy consumption by the proposed 20 percent over the next 10 years. In total, that makes up 200,000 units that will work toward energy efficiency.

A quarter of United States households live in apartment-type buildings, so there is a potential energy savings of $7 billion. In terms of greenhouse gases, that equals 430 million tons of carbon dioxide not being released into the atmosphere. To help make this happen, the multifamily partners will provide information on ways to cut energy use by lighting, heating and cooling improvements. Additionally, some places will install rooftop solar systems and there will be financing for energy retrofits and other green construction projects.

The Energy Department has also launched another initiative, called the Better Buildings Accelerators. Through this program, state and local governments, utility providers and manufacturers will team up to provide cost-effective solutions to barriers that can interfere with energy efficiency efforts.