I am a small-business owner and co-founder of G•O Logic LLC of Belfast, a design-build company building the next generation of sustainable, energy-efficient homes. So, I understand firsthand the importance of investing in clean energy and the importance of Congress strengthening the Clean Energy and Security Act.
If we invest in a clean energy economy now, we’ll create millions of jobs and set our country on a track to compete in a 21st century economy. Not only will my small business and thousands like mine be able to expand, but all the local businesses we rely on for manufacturing, shipping, storage and many other tasks will benefit as well.
Buildings consume 40 percent of the energy produced in the United States, more energy than all of the cars on the roads today. And while automobile fuel efficiency is seriously debated as a path to save energy and money, building energy performance has not received as much scrutiny, even though we have the tools and technology to create super-efficient buildings today. A strong renewable electricity standard will mean these tools get used and these jobs created to make our buildings more efficient and begin to build the foundation of an American new energy economy.
G•O Logic has developed home designs that reduce energy consumption by 90 percent for space heating and 80 percent overall. These houses look and feel like custom-designed, conventional homes and are built for average construction costs. The energy-efficiency comes from cost-effective design improvements — thicker walls with a lot more insulation, better passive-solar use and an airtight envelope coupled with a heat-recovery ventilation system. In simple terms, a 90 percent more energy-efficient home saves an enormous amount of money and energy — around $90,000 in heating costs, 22,000 gallons of heating oil and 285 tons of CO2 over the term of a 30-year mortgage.
A stronger renewable energy standard in the energy bill would provide small businesses with an important opportunity to provide quality, energy-efficient housing that people can afford to build and heat and cool. And this opportunity would not just benefit small businesses. It also would create an entirely new market for green jobs that are well paying, skilled and valuable to the economy. And these are jobs that can never be shipped overseas.
In fact, study after study has shown that investing in clean energy creates jobs, and at a far faster rate than investments in dirty energy sources such as oil and coal.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that investments in clean energy produce two to three times as many jobs as investments in dirty energy. The Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have issued similar findings.
Why settle for half as many jobs when we could have double, or even triple?
And don’t forget that creating more energy-efficient homes and businesses will jump-start the local economies in a multitude of ways. Once homes and businesses stop wasting energy, it means more money in people’s pockets. The Department of Energy’s home weatherization program cuts energy costs by an average of 30 per-cent per home. Those savings will spur consumer spending — helping to create even more jobs.
A strong American Clean Energy and Security Act can open new doors to future green jobs, a green economy and energy security. G•O Logic, among other innovative small businesses, is ready to help lead the way, with the skills and vision necessary to implement this ambitious plan. But we need the help of elected officials. I urge Congress to act now to create a stronger energy bill that will provide the support needed for a strong green economy and a brighter future.
Matthew O’Malia is the co-founder of G•O Logic LLC, a design and building company in Belfast. This column originally appeared in Roll Call.