15 August 2011, 08:09 BST
According to a study sponsored by the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC), investing in the energy efficiency of buildings, combined with other non-transportation initiatives, could reduce U.S. energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020, save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons annually.
The USGBC contends that such an initiative could also create millions of jobs and add more than half a trillion dollars to the American economy over the next four years. >Based on these and similar estimates, the federal and state governments have jumped on the green buildings wagon, with ARRA alone providing $4.5 billion to retrofit federal buildings and another $6.3 billion to improve the energy efficiency of state agencies.
The private sector is also onboard, given that the 5 million commercial buildings in the US total more than $100 billion a year in energy expenses currently. For many of them, the cost of retrofitting can be recouped quickly just by the reduction in operational expenses.
With such easy return on investment, it is no surprise that many analysts predict a surge of innovation and investment in the green buildings industry.
Energy efficient technologies, from better air conditioners to insulated windows and other energy-saving building materials, may not be as sexy as solar panels or advanced batteries, but areconsidered one of the fastest, most effective methods of reducing energy consumption.