Global Warming Serves Up Job Opportunities

Architecture 2030 released a seminal study on April 10, showing how an investment of $21.6 billion in the building sector would produce 216,000 permanent jobs and save 86.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in a single year. This same amount invested each year for five years would net more than 1 million permanent jobs and save 433.5 million metric tons.

According to Edward Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, "Although difficult, the economic and global warming crises are the motivation we need as a nation to retool our thinking. If we're smart enough to jump on this opportunity, we will not only solve global warming, we will set the U.S. up for unprecedented economic success."

The study is a comparative analysis of three approaches to addressing climate change: building energy efficiency, 'clean' coal (coal with carbon capture and sequestration), and nuclear power. According to the study, "The economic feasibility of any proposed actions regarding climate change is a particularly important consideration in this time of looming recession. Therefore, the study is an investigation not only of the most effective actions that can be taken in addressing climate change, but also of the implications of these actions on the U.S. economy."

The study concludes that, of the energy and climate change solutions proposed today, the one that costs the least and offers the greatest benefits to both the planet and the economy, is energy efficiency in buildings.

Buildings are responsible for almost half (48 percent) of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States annually. A $21.6 billion investment in building energy efficiency would replace 22.3 conventional coal-fired power plants, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 86.7 million metric tons, save 204 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 10.7 million barrels of oil, save consumers $8.46 billion in energy bills, and create 216,000 new jobs. As Mazria explained, because building is a local activity (construction jobs cannot be outsourced), the money invested in the building sector cycles through local economies several times, bolstering the entire economy.

Neither "clean" coal plants (with carbon capture and sequestration) nor nuclear plants can compete with the clean energy, cheap price, widespread economic benefits and job creation of building energy efficiency. Investing the same money in either "clean" coal plants or nuclear plants costs significantly more (rather than saving consumers money), replaces far fewer conventional coal plants, reduces carbon dioxide by far less and would create no new jobs, since the jobs at these new plants would be replacing existing conventional coal plant jobs.

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