Region Forward Blog

Leaders Work to Spur Investments in Building Energy Efficiency to Create Jobs & Fight Climate Change

Apr 25, 2013


Financing energy retrofits has been a major focus of area leaders on the Council of Governments’ climate and energy committee since retrofit projects create jobs increase energy efficiency and fight climate change.

Retrofit projects have also been of great interest to former President Bill Clinton which is why he joined AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other labor leaders last week at the organization’s headquarters in the District to celebrate the launch of a major retrofitting project to make the 160000 square foot building more efficient.

The retrofit project is a key part of the “Commitment to Action” organized by the American division of the former President’s flagship project the Clinton Global Initiative and signed on to in 2011 by the AFL-CIO the American Federation of Teachers the Center for American Progress think tank and a broad coalition of public sector unions to encourage the investment of over $10 billion into sustainably redeveloping the country’s built environment.

By increasing the building’s energy efficiency by more than 20 percent and creating more than 30000 hours of skilled construction work the AFL-CIO retrofit project is a key example of the positive environmental and economic impact that investment in energy efficiency and sustainability can deliver.

Former President Bill Clinton speaking at the launch of the AFL-CIO headquarters retrofit project aimed at improving the building’s energy efficiency.

In addition proposals for “infrastructure banks” and “green banks” are popping up across the country and at all levels of government. From the regional West Coast Infrastructure Exchange to New York’s state-level Green Bank to the city of Chicago’s Infrastructure Trust local and state governments are innovating in a very similar manner to how they’re taking on the challenge of climate change.

Locally the Federal City Council a coalition of major business organizations in the District of Columbia just unveiled its proposal for a public-private infrastructure bank for the city. And at the regional scale the Council of Governments’ Region Forward Coalition is in the process of creating a Strategic Investment Plan to identify specific elements that key Activity Centers throughout the region are lacking or could improve on (i.e. sidewalks parks transit etc.) to help local governments and business leaders determine how best to use limited resources to help make their jurisdictions more sustainable.

The Activity Centers Strategic Investment Plan will be released later this year and is a key component of Economy Forward the Council of Governments’ plan to prepare metropolitan Washington for a future with reduced federal spending and employment.

Clinton was at the AFL-CIO retrofit launch event to support and congratulate the organization the country’s largest labor group on its nearly $5 million project. It includes replacing and upgrading windows and installing more efficient lighting among other updates the result being a dramatically reduced carbon footprint and a significantly better functioning building.

In addition to the former President’s strong moral support of the retrofit the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is active in promoting such projects throughout the country.

“The AFL-CIO’s high performance energy retrofit of its own headquarters is an important step forward in meeting its entire CGI America commitment to create jobs by making buildings more efficient and putting communities across the U.S. on the path to a more sustainable future” Clinton said.

At CGI America this year institutional investors will be identifying strategies to dramatically ramp up investment in energy efficiency related projects.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to finance energy retrofit projects the Council of Government’s Climate Energy and Environment Policy Committee will be holding a panel on the topic at their May 22 meeting. Time location and contact information for that meeting will be available here. No registration is required.

This post is part of The Yardstick’s second annual Earth Month blog series. During the month of April we are highlighting news and events related to the environment climate change and energy.

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