Cisco and Duke Energy are teaming together on a $5.3 million effort to green commercial buildings in Charlotte, N.C., and they landed quite an announcer for their latest project: former president Bill Clinton. Clinton kicked off the initiative this morning at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

The project’s overall goal is to reduce Charlotte’s energy consumption by 20 percent by 2016 and also create a public-private partnership blueprint that can be replicated in other cities. The project is called Envision: Charlotte and aims to offer building owners free smart grid and building automation technologies and energy tracking tools. In particular, it targets commercial buildings in the two-square-mile urban core of the city.

Cisco will put in 80 percent of the investment, and Duke will foot the remainder. The initiative is a public-private partnership with the city of 750,000 (the 18th largest city in the country). The energy saved is “expected to eventually more than offset” the investment, according to Duke’s press release. Cisco and Duke are hoping to partner with the owners of 60 buildings in the city’s commercial core. Targeting commercial office buildings evidently makes it easier to implement smart grid measure and educate more consumers on energy efficiency.

No one appears to have fully committed to the project yet, though. The release lists a few buildings that have “expressed interest”:

-Duke Energy (no surprise there), which is headquartered in Charlotte and controls 1.3 million square feet of property.

-Bank of America, also headquartered in Charlotte, with 7 million square feet of property.

-Wells Fargo, with has 3 million square feet of land.

Perhaps President Clinton can give them a push in the right direction.