Retrofits could yield $1T in US energy savings

Retrofits could yield $1T in US energy savings

Savvy investments in energy efficiency retrofits for buildings could yield more than three times their value, mounting to about $1 trillion in energy savings in a decade, says new research from Deutsche Bank and The Rockefeller Foundation.
The study released today said that yield would be just one of the returns if $279 billion were spent for retrofits of residential, commercial and institutional buildings in the United States.

In addition to saving about 30 percent of the United States' entire energy spend during the course of a year, completion of the energy efficiency retrofits could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country by 10 percent and create 3.3 million job years -- which means the projects could create an estimated 3.3 million cumulative years of employment -- the study said.

Researchers in the building and sustainability fields have been touting the robust returns and benefits produced by energy efficiency retrofits for several years. In 2010, a study forecast that such projects could result in savings of as much as $41 billion a year in the U.S. And market leaders in business and real estate have made a point of spotlighting their successes, one of the most prominent being the Empire State Building retrofit. The New York City icon also serves as an example of green leasing program, a further strategy to achieve energy efficiency in commercial property.

Showcase projects aside, obtaining financing for retrofits has proven to be the biggest barrier to broader market adoption of the practice.

The new report, called the "United States Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models," seeks to address that by outlining four emerging mechanisms -- energy service agreements, PACE financing, on-bill energy efficiency tariffs and on-bill energy efficiency loans -- as well as other more established financing methods to boost pursuit of retrofit projects.

GreenBiz readers are no strangers to such mechanisms. Here is a sampling of our coverage.

  • In October, I wrote about a study by cleantech and green design consulting firm Capital-E, which detailed 11 ways to unlock $150 billion in energy efficiency financing.
  • About that time, colleague Adam Aston interviewed Carbon War Room CEO Jigar Shaw, who talked about the consortium founded by Carbon War Room to knock down the barriers to retrofit financing.
  • And attorney Shari Shapiro produced a three-part series last year on green project financing.

The report from Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors and The Rockefeller Foundation is available for free download at:

http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/news/publications/united-states-building-energy-efficiency

Photo of construction project via Shutterstock.com