Re-building U.S. Economy With Green-Building



U.S.Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu announced last weekthat more than $106 million in stimulus funding is being awarded tonine states for energy efficiency and conservation activities. Under the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, these states will implement programs that lower energy consumption, reduce carbon emissions,and create green jobs at the local level. The advantage of energyefficiency measures is that they are stimulative in rebuilding the U.Seconomy, as desired, since many pre-existing technologies and productsmay be administered to generate cost-savings, while leading toimmediate job creation in the process, as opposed to research and development funding, which is also necessary, yet more critical for achieving long-term economic growth after a recovery. 
The recent awards to the State Energy Offices will be directed towards state-level energy efficient green buildingpriorities, in addition to funding local conservation projects insmaller cities, counties and Tribal communities. In specific, at least60 percent of each state’s award will be offered to these locales, whomare not eligible for direct EECBG awards from the DOE due to oversightand communication link complexities. Citizens have the chance toencourage their local officials to capitalize on the opportunity sothat the money is actually utilized, and thereafter, that their taxdollars are well-spent, since it is public information posted on theofficial Recovery Act website
In summary,the various states were awarded funding to support: the development ofan energy efficiency and conservation strategy, energy efficiencyaudits and retrofits, transportation programs,the creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiencyimprovements, the development and implementation of advanced green building codes and inspections, and installation of renewable energy systems on government buildings.
However, thefunding is received in stages in accordance with concrete evidence ofsuccessful project implementation as well as compliance withenvironmental regulations. Throughout the program’s implementation, theDOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and triballevel, while emphasizing the urgency to award funds in a timely fashionin order to create new green jobsand stimulate local economies and ultimately the U.S. economy.Communities will be required to report regularly to DOE programmanagers on their progress regarding completing projects and programgoals over the expected three to five year lifetime of funding. 
The list ofstates receiving portions of the $106 million in funding include:Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee,Vermont and Virginia. An updated list of awards announced thus far isavailable at the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block GrantsProgram main site. The recent awardee states including Iowa and Massachusetts were approved for implementing energy-efficient solid state lighting(SSL) using high-brightness light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to replaceincandescent bulbs for street lighting. However, Arizona receivedstimulus funding to install energy-efficient lighting in governmentbuildings, but it is not clear if SSL will be used. Moreover, thisstate lacks any significant manufacturing capacity in regards to LEDtechnology.
Many other companies such as Samsung,and countries such as Taiwan are investing heavily in this technologyin order to stimulate their product portfolio and economy. In regardsto SSL, since there is need for both technical advancement in thefield, analogous to solar cells, andfor the establishment of a complete supply chain in a country due tothe industry-wide supply shortage for many types of LEDs, it is a moreprofound source of long-run economic growth than more mature,off-the-shelf energy-efficient lighting products. 
In January2007, well before the Recovery Act, the U.S. Congress committed to the"Green the Capitol" program to become a greener, more energy-efficientinstitution. By switching to Energy Star energy-efficient vendingmachines alone, the House expects to save $25,000 a year. As part ofthis program, more than 4,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs wereinstalled in Senate office buildings to reduce electricity consumptionby more than 1.1 million kilowatt-hours. A renewable, solar energysource for lighting in a Senate surface parking lot is forecasted tosave 1,825 kilowatt-hours per year. Dan Beard, the chief administratorof the program, stated recently that he estimates the House has reducedits carbon footprintby 74 percent in less than two years. This overall measure is a stellarexample for the country to follow; yet is long overdue compared to manyother industrialized countries. It will also strengthen the government’s role in implementing the green stimulus and other potential clean energy legislation to rebuild the U.S. economy.
A follow-uparticle will be published later this week on specific innovative energysaving green building applications involving the coupling of solarcells and high-brightness LEDs for solid state lighting. In order toanonymously receive FREE email alerts on future green technology andbusiness articles, please subscribe on my homepage and/or follow me on Twitter.

Image: Solar-powered LED-lit ferris wheel in Santa Monica, CA (metaefficient.com).

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