President Obama addressed a group of small business, labor and industry leaders at a Home Depot in Alexandria, Virginia, yesterday morning to highlight the importance of providing consumers with incentives to invest in energy efficiency.
While negotiators craft an international climate deal in Copenhagen and Congress considers jobs legislation, this home retrofit initiative could move quickly to create jobs while addressing the 20% of U.S. global warming pollution that comes from our homes. It seems like an easy - potentially, sexy?- step to address major economic and environmental challenges.
"Here's what’s sexy about it." said President Obama. "Saving money."
In summary: "most of this stuff is going to pay for itself."
It's an opportunity for households to immediately capture the benefits of clean energy investments and to create clean energy jobs for struggling communities.
Five participants joined the President at a roundtable discussion before the President's speech, including 23-year-old DC resident Stephon Burgess. Trained by the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Stephon now works full time for Ardently Green, a local home performance contractor focused on making existing homes more energy efficient. WeatherizeDC, a non-profit, has helped raise demand in DC for energy efficiency upgrades despite a lack of incentives for consumers (see Will Byrne's update at Huffington Post).
Investing in energy efficiency is the fastest, easiest, cheapest and safest thing we can do to address global warming pollution and put Americans back to work while saving families money. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act aggressively increased funding for clean energy, with Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants for cities and towns and an expanded Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income households.
The challenge is to demonstrate the immediate benefits of a program like that the President is proposing while securing long-term economic and environmental benefits for our communities.