K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Sep 03 2010

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Efficiency First

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I met today with Jared Asch, the National Director of Efficiency First.

They are a nonprofit that connects together people seeking green jobs with product manufacturers to promote energy efficiency. Jared and I will both be speaking at the upcoming West Coast Green Conference at the end of September and I have have been talking with all of my fellow speakers about their efforts.

efffirstlogo
http://www.efficiencyfirst.org

For 30-plus years, the modern environmental movement has been preaching energy efficiency, but it has only been recently we’ve seen it being taken seriously. Why the change? Surely rising fuel prices, instability of oil imports and our growing dependance on those imports factors into it – but these issues have persisted for decades.

I asked Jared about what has changed recently. He pointed out how the business case for energy efficiency now has a proven track record of success. “We didn’t have that just ten years ago,” he added. Jared has worked for 6 Senators, 3 presidential campaigns and several Members of Congress, and understands how policy can affect positive change. He mentioned the power of simply having an Administration supportive of these ideas. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is an admitted “energy efficiency nut.”

Back in December, President Obama told a group of businesspeople at a Home Depot in Virginia that energy efficiency was a “win-win,” because it saves energy, helps our environment and create jobs. “Here’s what’s sexy about it,” the President added, “saving money.” Jared quotes this on the cover of their brochure.

Simple tasks, such as weatherstripping around your doors, caulking around your windows and insulating your attic can easily cut your home energy use by 30%. If American households saved just 10% of the energy used to heat and cool their homes, it would amount to 8.2 billion kW saved, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over a million passenger vehicles.

Not only do these things reduce energy use and cut your monthly utility bills, they do much more. As it turns out, energy efficiency retrofitting of our existing buildings is also a job creator.

Jared pointed to their Home Star Program, a piece of proposed legislation that would give homeowners rebates for energy efficiency retrofits. Home Star would create about 168,000 jobs, help homeowners save money and move us toward energy independence. He told me they are only a couple of votes shy of the 60 needed to pass it in the Senate.

Energy efficiency is at the core of every climate solution. We cannot reach the goals we need to reach (350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere) without an aggressive policy of energy efficiency retrofits for our existing buildings. Every Architect, Contractor and Designer needs to take notice and push this as part of their remodeling projects.

Just this week, the Center for American Progress released a report showing how a national energy efficiency program could create 625,000 sustained jobs over 10 years, ignite $500 billion in investment, and save people over $64 billion off their utility bills. Money in their pockets they could use to move the economy forward.

Eric Corey Freed is an architect and author of four books, including Green$ense for the Home.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 12:08 PM and is filed under Green. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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