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Bill Clinton, Cisco CEO, & Duke CEO Join Hands On Building Efficiency

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Updated: What are the powerhouse trio including former President Bill Clinton, Cisco (s CSCO) CEO John Chambers, and Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers getting all hot and bothered about this morning? If you were thinking a new energy bill or more green stimulus spending, think again. It’s building energy efficiency in Charlotte, North Carolina. This morning at the Clinton Global Initiative conference the three announced a new project to bring public and private companies together to help Charlotte’s buildings reduce energy consumption by 20 percent.

Called “Envision: Charlotte,” the project is seeking to convince the owners of around 60 buildings — or 15 million square feet of building space — in Charlotte’s downtown to implement smart grid technology, building automation networks, and energy management software. Duke Energy and Cisco will cover the $5.3 million (80 percent from Duke, 20 percent from Cisco) that they say it will cost to buy and install the energy efficiency tools, but the buildings owners just have to agree to it. It’s not a whole lot for the two large companies, but Cisco and Duke think that the energy saved will far offset the minor investment.

The group has contacted the buildings that they want to be involved and will just have to wait and see if they’re interested. How could they not be under such a public forum and the fact that it’s free.

Leave it to Bill Clinton to pull together something like this. Over the past few years he’s been highly involved in using his foundation to push innovative ways of delivering clean power and energy efficiency.

Presumably the project will also be used as a test bed for Cisco’s smart energy software products that it will eventually deliver to Duke. Cisco and Duke announced a partnership around the smart grid a year ago, but haven’t announced much in terms of products and projects since then. I’m assuming the smart grid tech, building automation products, and management software will come from Cisco (or Cisco partners). In recent weeks Cisco has announced a much more clear vision of the end-to-end smart grid product it intends to sell (see, Why Cisco Could Reach An End-to-End Smart Grid First, on GigaOM Pro, subscription required).

Update: Cisco’s Laura Ipsen confirmed in an interview that Cisco would be using its Building Mediator product to control energy use in an initial two-building pilot, as well as installing energy information communication screens in building lobbies, elevators and the like. Cisco would also deploy its EcoMap technology for the Charlotte area to show city residents a view of their energy use, carbon emissions and waste production by zip code, she added.

Jeff St. John contributed to this report.

Image courtesy of Duke Energy.