It hardly seems possible but after President Obama authorized up to $2 billion last year to support energy efficiency upgrades in federal buildings, only a handful of agencies took him up on the offer. But a new bipartisan House effort, the Energy Savings Performance Caucus, plans to get the ball rolling.

Reps. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Peter Welch (D-VT) said the intent of the new caucus is to “push for policies that reduce energy costs, cut pollution and create jobs,” according to a Sustainable Business story.

You have to admit, it does seem strange that at a time when government is on a crusade to reduce unnecessary spending that most if not all agencies would have their hands out for a share of the money. The funds are dedicated for Energy Savings Performance Contracts that would be expected to return $20 billion in reduced energy use costs.

As the two legislators put it, “There is nearly 3 billion square feet of building space that is owned and operated by the federal government, and by making government buildings more energy efficient we can save taxpayer dollars and give a boost [to] the construction and energy sectors of our economy.”

The caucus game plan is to encourage agencies to enter into the contracts and hold them accountable for set energy reduction targets. Under the Energy Savings Performance Contract, no payments for energy retrofits are required up front. The contractor covers upfront financing for items like new equipment, windows and insulation, and installs them. The contractor is repaid over time, with payments based on actual savings generated by the retrofits.