President Obama examines a light unit during a tour of a lab on the Penn State University campus in State College, Pa., Thursday.
From NBC's Scott Foster
STATE COLLEGE, PA -- President Obama came to Penn State University here today to focus on the economy by unveiling a new initiative that would encourage American businesses to invest in building upgrades to reduce their energy consumption.
While the White House has been forced this week to deal with the crisis in Egypt, today's visit to Central Pennsylvania is part of a renewed push by the administration to create clean-energy jobs through investments and innovation.
The president has proposed tax credits for small businesses to invest in new technologies that would cut down energy use.
Here at the university, scientists and engineers backed by $129 million in funds from federal government are working on cutting-edge technology that would reduce energy consumption in both residential and commercial buildings.
The Penn State research program is part of an "Energy Innovation Hub" that aims to reach a 20% reduction in energy use in commercial buildings by 2020.
Obama argued that not only will the program reduce carbon pollution, but it will also create so-called green jobs.
"Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money and combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America. And that's what we're going to do," he said.
Seeking to drive home his argument, the president explained, "That may not sound too sexy until -- you know energy efficient buildings -- but listen: Our homes and our businesses consume 40% of the energy we use."
The plan builds on last year's "Homestar" program that provided rebates to homeowners to make similar energy-saving improvements.
Today, Obama explained that these incentives will boost manufacturing jobs. He cited several companies, including a window manufacturing plant in Maryland and a lighting company in North Carolina that have expanded their workforce because of similar initiatives.
To pay for the tax credits the administration in its' upcoming budget proposal would eliminate subsidies for oil companies.
"It's time to stop subsidizing yesterday's energy," he said. "It's time to invest in tomorrow's. It's time to win the future."