Energy Efficiency a Win-Win
The White House recently announced a bold initiative to finance energy efficiency renovations and retrofits to commercial and federal government buildings throughout the country. The announcement also included a Presidential Memorandum directing the heads of executive departments and agencies in the federal government to take significant steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy use in the almost 3 billion square feet of building space the federal government owns.
While the usual environmental crowd supports these efforts, private sector players, including U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donahue—not a typical Obama ally—back the energy saving measures too.
Why all the support? The energy efficiency upgrades are funded by $4 billion in government and private sector commitments but won’t cost taxpayers a single dollar.
The feds are using projected long-term utility bill savings to finance the upgrades' upfront costs. After these costs are paid, the energy savings is money in the bank for companies and government agencies who participate.
Implementing the planned renovations, retrofits and upgrades will create a significant number of jobs in a sector that badly needs a boost: construction. And reducing energy use across all sectors will inherently reduce the amount of pollution emitted from burning fossil fuels.
In short, the initiative will create jobs, save taxpayer money, lower costs of doing business and reduce pollution from energy production. Everybody wins.
This is an example of developing and implementing win-win solutions to our nation’s problems despite strong obstructionist stances from conservatives in Congress.
In Minnesota, Governor Dayton has proposed similar measures directing state agencies to save energy; however, they're not on as grand a scale as Obama's plan. Overall, Minnesota has already made significant strides in promoting and implementing energy efficiency methods, but more can be done to build public-private partnerships and bring Minnesota businesses and government leaders on board with energy efficiency in the state.
Even if conservatives at the Capitol want to undo much of this progress under the guise of job creation, those who care about environmental issues must stand strong, urging conservative colleagues to be part of the solution or get out of the way.