Building Energy Retrofits Are a Vast Untapped Resource of Efficiency

Within the larger effort to transform the way the nation receives and uses its power, efficiency holds first-tier status, right next to solar, wind and electric cars. The importance of building energy use within the realm of efficiency also is well-established. A recent study of the market for building energy-efficiency retrofits puts that importance into quantifiable terms. The numbers are compelling.

Released in March, a study was conducted by the climate change research arm of the Germany-based Deutsche Bank and the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation. It looks at the financial investment opportunities of building energy retrofits, the potential for energy savings and the number of jobs they could create. The study, “United States Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models,” notes that buildings consume approximately 40 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for an equal percentage of the world’s carbon emissions. With that kind of footprint, it should come as little surprise to learn that building energy retrofits are a resource of tremendous proportions.

Still, every new resource requires capital to exploit, and efficiency is no exception. If investors are skittish, the study should give them ample incentive. Specifically, it finds the potential for investment in the building energy-efficiency retrofit market to be about $279 billion. The study also looks at several financing models that would allow financiers to invest in retrofits and building owners to pay for them. The models include energy services agreements (ESAs), property assessed clean energy (PACE) and on-bill financing (OBF).

Financiers and building owners would not be the only ones to benefit. If that $279 billion in investment is actualized, the building retrofit market could also create 3.3 million jobs, which would include a range of skill qualifications and would be geographically diverse across the country, the study finds.

Perhaps most importantly, the building energy-efficiency retrofit market could yield more than $1 trillion of energy savings over 10 years. That number is equivalent to approximately 30 percent of the amount spent on electricity in the United States annually.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer
Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelancer writer. He has a passion for renewable power. He may be reached at .

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