Energy and Sustainability Services
Earlier this week, I spoke at a press conference in Chicago supporting the recent EPA proposal, the Clean Power Plan, to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants. The electric power sector accounts for nearly 40% of today’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the EPA’s initiative to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% nationwide is a significant step towards a more sustainable built environment.
Buildings are responsible for up to 70% of electrical consumption in major cities and up to 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. So improving the energy efficiency of our buildings represents one solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that there are technologies and resources available to support building energy efficiency initiatives. While power producers can make efficiency improvements to their plants, substantial efficiency opportunities also lie within the commercial buildings sector. Sound energy management strategies represent a great opportunity to reduce both emissions and energy costs for building owners.
Over the last 5 years, we have helped clients reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 12 million metric tons. In the process, we saved them more than $2.5 billion in energy costs. Cost reductions aren’t the only benefit of building energy efficiency improvements. Building investors are finding that green buildings are more attractive to tenants and owner occupiers are finding that improved environmental performance can make their company more attractive to employees, customers and shareholders. Research indicates that as many as 90% of American workers want to work for a company with a strong green reputation.
Carbon emission regulations can also create jobs. The U.S. Green Building Council says that, from 2009 to 2013, green construction generated nearly 8 million jobs in the U.S., and nearly $400 billion in labor earnings. These are American jobs which can’t be exported. When we managed the retrofit of New York’s Empire State Building, for example, 200 new jobs were created. There is a significant opportunity to help boost our economy and local job growth by retrofitting existing buildings to reduce emissions.
I’d like to think that more efficiently managing our electricity and power facilities is truly a “no brainer” – it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our impact on the planet, reduce costs for both power companies and consumers, and help drive the economy. Sustainability is truly good business and the right thing to do.