Saving billions of dollars the easy way

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We here at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization are all about energy efficiency. We know retrofits and upgrades are an easy cost-effective way to cut utility costs. And when your power bill is less, you have more money in your pocket.

But even we were stunned by how much money businesses and landlords across the country are leaving on the table: $41 BILLION per year. That's how much the nation could save if all 79 billion square feet of commercial buildings in the U.S. was retrofitted to be energy efficient, according to a study released by Pike Research and noted by CNET News.

Just imagine what that means in an economic crisis like this. Businesses and government could hire more people, or at the very least not cut as many jobs. Companies could invest and devote more resources to research and technology. People would be put to work making the upgrades.

Consumers would have more money in their pockets. They would buy more cars, refrigerators and clothes. And that doesn't include the other positives of greenhouse gas reductions, energy independence, higher property values and increased productivity, as noted in this report by Candace Lombardi.

Of course, building owners have the initial cost of the upgrades, estimated collectively at $22.5 billion a year over 10 years . That, of course, is part of the problem, Lombardi notes when she quotes the report: "The current financial crisis has had a significant dampening effect on property owners' investments in their properties. Financing for such projects is scarce."

Despite that, Pike Research believes energy retrofits will grow over the next four years. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman in this just released op-ed piece that argues for climate legislation, says such investment is crucial.

He cites research that shows annual investment in energy would increase $11 billion if climate legislation passed. "That’s new employment from a private sector stimulus," Friedman says.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.