There may never be a better time to begin new building retrofits and investments in energy efficiency than the climate that prevails today. According to the Annual Energy Review of 2007, commercial and residential buildings accounted for 39 percent of the total US energy consumption. This is far more than either the transportation or industrial sectors, which in 2007 stood at 29% and 32% respectively. Even incremental improvements to the existing building stock exploiting the low hanging fruit of building retrofitting with better insulation or heating/cooling systems for example offer in their aggregate huge economic opportunities and the potential to make an important contribution to the stated national goal of increasing our energy independence. Lowering these on-going expenditures can have such an impact on the bottom line for building operators and owners that this may represent one of the safest and most lucrative places to invest in. In addition President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has pledged billions of dollars for future green building projects which comes on top of existing Federal and State incentives including tax credits and government subsidies.
For an in depth look at Green Building design and what building green means check out our five part article series: The Green (or Sustainable) Building: Part I – What Is the Green Building DNA?
The green building sector offers many opportunities for retrofitting existing buildings to increase their energy efficiency lower their water usage or storm water runoff and so forth that present a whole slew of skilled labor and small business ideas for enterprising individuals and contractors willing to make the leap as well as largely untapped growth opportunities for larger corporations. As more and more green buildings are getting built a growing movement to certify them has taken hold and as these certifications become more widely known and understood they will provide an additional incentive for builders and finaciers to build to the standards set forth by them. One of the most widely accepted third party green building certifications is the LEED rating system that is put out by the U.S. Green Building Council This certification and rating system encourages and accelerates the adoption of sustainable green building and development practices by creating a widely understood and accepted criteria for measuring and comparing a given building against well known standards set forth in the rating system. LEED certification is being used widely and by many different kinds of stake holders and producers including: architects, real estate professionals, facility managers, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, construction managers, lenders and government officials.
Green building and retrofitting has the potential of producing millions of good jobs in precisely some of the hardest hit sectors of our economy — in the field of construction and it could help lift the real estate sector out of its current state of free fall. Not only does it represent a potential jobs engine, but it offers the possibility of vast and continuous savings in the re-occurring cost structure of our nations physical infrastructure. If it can gain lift from the billions of dollars of funding pledged to it in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, green building could become the brick and mortar of a new green economy and put millions of American workers back to work building and retrofitting our nation to be suited for the needs of tomorrow.
© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.