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Lane Burt’s Blog

State of the Nation: What Does It Mean For Efficiency?

Lane Burt

Posted February 24, 2009

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President Obama gave the "State of the Nation" address tonight and didn't disappoint. He continues to beat the drum for efficiency and display a big picture understanding of how we can improve our economic outlook and take urgent action on climate change.

"We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America."

Notice the order here. We address our infrastructure, we focus on our economy through building retrofits and we push forward on renewable energy, all within the overarching context of climate change action. I agree completely. Climate change legislation is huge for efficiency.

The President says we are going to get to work making our buildings more efficient and save billions. He is not exaggerating; the benefits are huge.

Retrofitting homes is a labor intensive endeavor. An average home retrofit takes a crew of 3 people about 5 days to complete. There are 111 million homes in this country. We can cut consumption in these homes 30-50% or $700 to $1150 annually on average. Every 4 crews or so needs a project manager. Every retrofit company needs accountants, executives, salesmen, and administrative staff. They need legal advice, they need office supplies, and they need to advertise. The insulation, caulk and sealants, appliances, and mechanical systems they install have to be manufactured. The money that each person saves from being wasted on energy will be spent, supporting other industries and creating more jobs. Add to this projection the 4.8 million commercial buildings in this country, representing 72 million square feet of space. No, he is definitely not exaggerating.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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Em HFeb 25 2009 06:45 AM

Last night was NOT a State of the Union speech.

Vrinda ManglikFeb 25 2009 09:57 AM

Great post! In terms of the retrofitting aspect, do you know if Obama has said anything (or if there's anything in the Stimulus Bill) about specific training/certification programs for people to learn retrofitting skills? I think people like Van Jones do a great job emphasizing the training aspect.

les blowerFeb 25 2009 03:18 PM

We need to contain energy on local cellular levels, almost house by house to preserve the ecology. It is as if we will need to protect nature from us not the other way round. We have locals using batteries and inverters and other types of hybrid vehicles while using them all the time to travel about just as if you were in an internal combustion process. We will need to think on a different level when the energy for long distance travel and trips to wal mart are no longer viable.All we need around us is enough light to see and warmth and comfort to survive whether a mobile home,boat,caravan,flat, house or car. We can see in the dark enoughn to travel at 200mph in a car but we cannot see without a power station.The other point is that nuclear energy needs millions of gallons of water to cool them all of which is an environmental disaster in the ocean it is pumped into. Why is this allowed ,anywhere?.

Lane BurtFeb 25 2009 08:54 PM

The stimulus money for home retrofits is directed towards WAP, which has its own contractor requirements. For non WAP homes, RESNET ( and BPI ( are the certification bodies to know for home energy improvements,

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