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McKinsey report makes strong case for green building and energy efficiency

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New York City McKinsey & Co. released a report Wednesday outlining opportunities for consumers, businesses and other institutions to save nearly $1.3 trillion in energy costs by 2020. According to the report, America could reduce its non-transportation energy usage by 23%, by 2020, by investing in energy efficiencies.

The report, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” was sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council and 11 other organizations from the government, non-governmental and private sectors. It provides a detailed assessment of how much the nation can increase energy efficiency in buildings and other non-transportation sectors using existing methods and technologies.

“This confirms a critical path forward that we have long championed,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of USGBC. “Harnessing the engine of green, energy-efficient buildings can cost-effectively drive tremendous improvements in our economy and environment. Green building can stimulate the economy at a level one and a half times larger than the federal stimulus bill.  In terms of climate change, a commitment to energy efficiency would be the equivalent to taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger cars and light trucks -- more than 200 million vehicles -- off the road.”

A targeted investment of $50 billion a year over 10 years, the report finds, would enable the entirety of those potential savings to be realized. Those reductions in energy use would save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion, a return on investment of more than two to one. Furthermore, those investments would generate 900,000 jobs and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons, according to the report.

"As Congress debates climate change legislation, these findings make an overwhelming case that we must dramatically strengthen provisions that support and scale green building,” Fedrizzi said.

The energy efficiency potential cited in the report is divided across three sectors of the U.S. economy: industrial (40% of the end-use energy efficiency potential), residential (35%) and commercial (25%).

“The McKinsey report reveals new possibilities for energy efficiency, and will be instrumental in engaging consumers, businesses and everyone else to cut energy consumption, reduce harmful emissions, and save money on electricity,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA will continue pioneering energy efficiency through programs like Energy Star, partnership with the Department of Energy in the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, and engagement in state and local climate and energy programs.”

For more on the report, go to www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/electricpowernaturalgas/US_energy_efficiency/.

© 2014