By Steve Rizer
It will be interesting to see what kind of an impact the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (SEEA) latest study will have on the U.S. public and private sectors going forward -- a study reporting a 387 percent return on investment (ROI) on monies committed to energy-efficiency programs in 16 southeastern cities from 2010 to 2013. Will this ROI data persuade congressional lawmakers, through the fiscal 2015 budget process, to increase their support of federal programs promoting energy efficiency across America? Will more commercial property owners be willing to invest the money it takes to optimize the energy efficiency of their buildings?
If nothing else, the study makes a good case that SEEA’s U.S. Department of Energy-funded energy-efficiency retrofit consortium has proven its worth over the last three years. Every $1 million invested in energy-efficiency programs in the 16 cities during the three-year period generated an estimated $3.87 million in economic output and 17.28 new jobs.
The SEEA program consortium was seeded by $20.2 million in funding from DOE’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBNP). During the three-year span, there were more than 10,000 building energy audits and 6,000 commercial and residential building retrofits completed in the cities, which included Arlington, Va.; Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Blacksburg/Roanoke, Va.; Carrboro, N.C; Chapel Hill, N.C; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Charlottesville, Va.; Decatur, Ga.; Hampton Roads, Va.; Huntsville, Ala.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; and Richmond, Va.
“The remarkably positive economic impact that investments in energy efficiency have had on both economic growth and job creation in the Southeast are helping to create a fundamental change in perspective,” SEEA President Mandy Mahoney said. “The results of this ‘grand experiment’ in community-based energy-efficiency programming have validated the powerhouse economic effect of energy efficiency, a vitally important tool for ensuring the prosperity of the Southeast.”
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article contains a transcript of ConstructionPro Week's interview with a SEEA spokesperson about the study and its potential implications. Also included is coverage of other recent developments involving energy efficiency.