The Empire State Building, constructed in 1931, has recently undergone a comprehensive energy efficiency retrofit. It now uses 38 percent less energy than it did a few years ago. The owners invested $20 million in improvements, and the building now saves $4.4 million per year in utility costs. That’s a 4.6-year payback, equal to a return on investment of 22 percent. That far out-competes almost anything in the stock market, and it’s far less risky.
What can we learn from this?
1. Existing buildings can be retrofitted into high-performance buildings.
2. There are significant opportunities for reducing energy use in this country for roughly 25 percent the cost of building new power plants.
3. We can reduce climate emissions considerably in this country at a profit. Energy efficiency is probably the best investment that can be made.
4. It is foolish for anyone to even consider investing in coal, particularly given the health care and climate change costs it imposes on society.
A national energy policy that has energy efficiency as its foundation does more to create jobs, reduce dependency on foreign energy, improve our environment, and preserve our nation’s financial resources than any other approach. If that makes sense to you, please let your government representative know.