Should There Be A National Retrofit Program?

It is no secret that retrofitting existing buildings is the best and fastest way to cut energy use. We've written about it here and here, but it's a difficult concept for some people to grab.

Now, the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan research group in Washington D.C., and independent power producer Energy Resource Management are calling for a national program to retrofit homes, offices and factories for energy efficiency.

The report examines effective programs in various states, and suggests those could be models for a national program that mobilizes private sector investment. The paper identifies 10 effective policies; lists 10 states with cutting-edge energy programs (California is there) and 10 states that have strong potential for development of energy-efficiency programs; and acknowledges certain market barriers.

Some federal energy retrofit initiatives already exist, such as the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income families. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided millions in stimulus dollars for such projects.

But, the money hasn't necessarily translated to results, as this blog post and this letter from the state Office of the Inspector General in California note.

However, a national program could yield stunning results, the Center for American Progress says. A national retrofit program that retrofitted only 40% of the residential and commercial buildings in the United States would generate 625,000 jobs, spark $500 billion in new investments to 50 million homes and office buildings and generate $64 billion in energy savings.

That $64 billion is more than the $41 billion cited in a the aforecited Pike Research report, but the point is clear: retrofits are more bang for the buck.
"In the United States today, it takes nearly twice the energy required to produce every dollar of economic output compared with European and Asian nations, the American Progress study says. "But our current inefficiency is also a hidden resource."

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.