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A Star Turn for Energy Efficiency Jobs

A Star Turn for Energy Efficiency Jobs

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Any job creation plan must include a major national program of reconstruction grounded in the clean energy jobs of the future, write Bracken Hendricks and Jorge Madrid.
Any job creation plan must include a major national program of reconstruction grounded in the clean energy jobs of the future, write Bracken Hendricks and Jorge Madrid.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Sep 07, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1Center for American Progress | A Star Turn for Energy Efficiency Jobs
A Star Turn for Energy Efficiency Jobs
Energy Efficiency Must Have a Starring Role in Putting America Back to Work
By Bracken Hendricks and Jorge MadridSeptember 2011
Reroting America’s homes and oces or energy eciency mus remain a he opo he naional agenda when Congress reurns o work oday. Congress needs o nd biparisan soluions o jumpsar he economy and creae jobs. Wased energy is an obvious and cosly drag on he produciviy and compeiivenesso he U.S. economy, bu equally imporan amid he curren jobs crisis is his—inves-ing up ron in energy-saving echnology or homes and oces will creae hundreds o housands o jobs, especially in he hard hi consrucion and manuacuring secors o he economy. Te same dollars ha we wase oday on inecien energy use would be beter spen paying he wages o skilled American consrucion workers and purchasingsae-o-he-ar advanced manuacured producs made here in he Unied Saes. When here is subsanial excess capaciy in boh he consrucion workorce and indomesic manuacuring, a program o rero U.S. homes and oces is well argeedo pu American workers back on he job. While housing demand remands depressed,hese cos-eecive invesmens in eciency can creae a new source o demand orskilled workers.Furhermore, building rero invesmens are driven by he privae secor hroughargeed incenives, no governmen programs, drawing privae capial o creae lasing American jobs. Ta’s a smar, biparisan way o ackle he jobs crisis, our dependenceon oreign energy sources, and global warming.In his issue brie we will make he case or residenial and commercial building rero-s, demonsrae ha successul eors in he Recovery and Reinvesmen Ac o 2009and he adminisraion’s Beter Buildings Iniiaive can lay he groundwork or jump-saring a new wave o privae-secor invesmen in his nascen bu criical Americanindusry. We hen deail how we can build upon his oundaion o creae 250,000 new 
2Center for American Progress | A Star Turn for Energy Efficiency Jobs
 jobs over he nex year. Specically, Congress needs o enac hree programs ha enjoy  widespread backing on boh sides o he aisle and deep indusry suppor—Home Sar,Building Sar, and Rural Sar.
Residential and commercial building retrofits
I we reroted jus 40 percen o he naion’s residenial and commercial buildingsock, we would mobilize a massive amoun o domesic labor, over hal a million(625,000) susained ull ime jobs over a decade. Tis would generae as much as $64 billion per year in cos savings or U.S. energy raepayers. Ta’s means $300 o $1,200 insavings or individual amilies.Te residenial secor gives us a perec example o he work ha needs o be done.Homes accoun or 21 percen o he naions energy use. Te average American house-hold spends $1,900 per year on energy bills. Tere are approximaely 130 million homesin he Unied Saes, wih roughly hal o hese homes buil beore 1973—long beoremodern residenial building codes and more widely used pracices o insulae againsenergy wase. Modern reroting echniques and echnologies can reduce energy use by up o 40 percen per home.McKinsey and Co. nds ha our naion wases $130 billion annually on energy cossrom inecien buildings and appliances, which could cos eecively be saved usingoday’s exising echnology. Ta’s money ha is lierally ying ou he window or hruhe cracks o leaky buildings. Teir repor “Unlocking Energy Eciency in he U.S.Economy” saes ha a comprehensive eciency sraegy, execued a scale, couldreduce he naion’s nonransporaion end-use energy coss by more han $1.2 rillion by 2020—ar oupacing he iniial invesmen o $520 billion o deploy such a program.Furher, we know ha he work ha needs o be done will be labor-inensive, as every 1 million invesed in energy eciency reros will creae 17.36 jobs according o hePoliical Economy Research Insiue a he Universiy o Massachusets, Amhers.Compare ha o he 6.86 jobs creaed by invesmen in he coal indusry, or he 5.18 jobs i he same money were pu in oil and gas. Congress would do well o noe ha building reros ou-perorm invesmens in new oil and gas exploraion as a orm o  job creaion or economic simulus by a acor o 3-o-1. Wha’s more, mos o he producs used in energy eciency reros have over 90percen o he conen made righ here in he USA. Shee meal or ducwork, orexample is over 99 percen domesically sourced, vinyl windows are 98 percen American made, and rigid oam insulaion is over 95 percen made in America. Evenmajor mechanical equipmen like urnaces (94 percen made in he U.S.A.) and aircondiioning and hea pumps (82 percen American made) have a much larger share
3Center for American Progress | A Star Turn for Energy Efficiency Jobs
o U.S. conen han oher producs, wih he domesic share o producion or allproducs in he Unied Saes hovering jus above 76 percen. When you build green, you are ar more likely o be buying American. Ta is very goodnews or he hard hi U.S. manuacuring secor, especially in building and consrucionmaerials, which desperaely need a boos during his down real esae marke.Finally, clean energy jobs are beter or U.S. small businesses. In ac 91 percen o he rmsinvolved in reros are acually small businesses, according o research conduced by heEnergy Fuure Coaliion. Insulaion, or example, is insalled by more han 22,000 rms,85 percen o which employ less han 20 people. Roong insulaion is insalled by nearly 20,000 conracors around he counry, 88 percen o which employ less han 20 people. Windows are manuacured and insalled by more han 130,000 people working or nearl7,000 rms in he Unied Saes, 82 percen o which employ less han 20 people. Te pro-ducion and insallaion o heaing, venilaion, and air condiioning equipmen employsaround 2 million people in he Unied Saes, and nearly 90 percen o hem work or rmso less han 20 people. While nearly 850,000 people manuacure or insall inerior or exe-rior lighing equipmen in he Unied Saes—nearly 90 percen work or rms o less han20 people. Tis is a big deal or sruggling small and amily businesses in he Unied Saes, who provide he real engine or new hiring in our economy.Te macroeconomic argumens behind his issue are seadas. We have a problem–leaky and inecien buildings ha wase money and energy—and he soluion will beme wih domesic, labor-inensive work ha can be achieved oday a low cos wihexising echnology. Energy eciency is, and will coninue o be, he “low-hanging”rui by which he Unied Saes can save money and creae susained jobs in srugglingindusries crippled by he Grea Recession and coninuing housing crisis. We can dohis while improving and upgrading our inrasrucure and qualiy o lie, wih healhier,more comorable, and more economical buildings. Te real quesion hen is how ounlock hese benes eecively a a momen o economic downurn.
Building on successful Recovery Act investments
Te energy eciency indusry is a a criical poin in is developmen, and real esaeinvesors recognize his emerging marke as a poenial brigh spo in a roubled mar-ke or consrucion jobs. While criics ofen asser ha he American Recovery andReinvesmen Ac o 2009 has no lived up o i’s promise, his assessmen is bohgrossly premaure and conradiced by he acs. In ac, he recen waves o new inves-men in clean energy and building eciency, while slow o ake hold have gained rac-ion and his marke is growing.

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