Would it be useful for property owners in your city to see the real dollars and cents associated with energy use and retrofitting their energy systems? It seems that if a property owner could see the predictable savings he might gain by adding solar, or selling back to the grid, it would encourage more sustainable property retrofits. In fact, in places where those benchmarks are available, they are incredibly good resources. Along with the benchmarking data, there is overwhelming information in several studies that demonstrate that retrofitting pays back the investment — and well. It’s hard to know this data exist, and that makes finding the funding to retrofit virtually impossible. Both cities and private citizens struggle to finance retrofitting — yet banks and the investment banking world stand by and decline to provide funding. Maybe they too lack access to the data! We think these studies and ongoing benchmark data could help. “One of the key findings of the report is that half the examined properties could fully support loans with energy savings. That is huge news for an industry that’s been trying to attract investor interest with minimal success. It’s even greater news for the long term prospects of green job creation as more workers will be needed to support investor-backed retrofit programs operating at a larger scale.”
But whether benchmarks or studies, finding corroboration for the value of retrofitting is harder than you might imagine. There are almost no institutionalized procedures to post energy usage by buildings. And where there is an ordinance requiring those numbers be posted, they are only applicable to the largest users, and so are only illuminating for property owners of that scale; That doesn’t help small property owners, who make up the majority of landlords in most cities. “This is the problem that advocates like Andrew Burr of the Institute for Market Transformation want to fix. Burr pushes cities and states around the country to adopt policies that require building owners to measure their properties’ energy use and disclose it to the public, the local government and in some cases, directly to tenants.” (Click here for full article).
There is even more benefit — especially for cities — in attacking energy inefficiency. More and more studies show that the jobs created through these efforts are significant, and do not merely create short-term relief for casual workers. And with the recession only slowly receding, that may be the best short-term news possible. Of course, the long-term benefits of benchmarks are clear — more retrofits, funding for energy companies and sustainable construction, greater energy saving, reduced carbon emissions, and jobs. What is your city waiting for?