The liberal mantra, “go green” is finding its mainstream voice. Nowhere is this more evident than in our nation’s urban areas. Easing the pollution of our congested areas, investing in our nation’s future by recycling its’ past, in short, going green, while giving city’s a facelift, it’s all part of a new trend.
At first blush, this trend seems little more than a step up from the usual energy-conserving home-improvements homeowners implement everyday. However, retrofitting takes the lowly act of renovation far above the NJ homesteader calling in the NJ window company to put in some new energy-saving windows. It’s a worldwide boom that’s taking on some massive projects, nothing less than the salvation and refitting for the 21st century of some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious skyscrapers.
Bigger in scope than the usual homey acts of home-improvement, retrofitting has bigger ramifications too. In terms of fiscal savings, retrofitting is expected to eventually pay for itself. In the interim, the project provides an economic boost by providing jobs. Speaking globally, the retrofitting boom could herald even bigger payoffs, keeping city’s electrical grids from overloading, producing less climate-affecting emissions and a cleaner environment for future generations, to say nothing of preserving some beautiful, historic buildings.
Fortunately, burgeoning climate-consciousness and the need for economic overhaul, has turned the retrofitting craze into a banner cause, ripe for savvy businesses with a social conscious. One consortium of International banks and energy providing corporations have advanced a joint investment fund of several billion to retrofit older buildings in over a dozen different countries. A spokesperson for one of the engineering companies cites the decision as “job creation, resilience to future climate change and keeping operating costs low, all at once.”
Another big investor in the retrofitting boom includes, the loan program PACE, (Property Assessed Clean Energy) initiated by British billionaire mogul, Richard Branson and overseen by Ygrene (energy backwards,) a specialist in providing turnkey programs for property owners, commercial, or private, who demonstrate an interest in retrofitting for the sake of sustainable energy and greater efficiency. Branson’s ebullient belief in the plan was expressed when he noted; “it will unlock a trillion dollar market for green retrofits.”
Retrofit fever is everywhere, in places like Melbourne, Australia, where the country’s International Energy Agency has plans to lower energy costs in over one thousand of its commercial properties, as well as in the U.S, where the environmental Protection Agency has launched a Battle of the Buildings. Over two hundred facilities will duke it out, winning based on who’s ‘green’ improvements save the most money on their utility costs. Meanwhile, the DOE Fund, a U.S. nonprofit, is ramping up for its “retrofit ramp-up program” by soliciting over 300 million.
All this fiscal support is needed, because even the simple act of improving insulation, which can greatly improve a building’s energy efficiency, is costly, never mind the newest innovations, such as software designed to track and analyze a building’s energy consumption.
Of course the glamor of the past is preserved by the retrofitting boom as well. One major benefactor, New York’s landmark lady, the Empire State Building, received a facelift as part of a 1.1 billion dollar retrofit pilot program put forth by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ex President Clinton and Anthony Malkin of W&H Properties.
The ‘Lady’s’ new energy plan has reportedly already brought in half the anticipated savings, and is expected to generate a total of approximately 2 million more, besides creating over 200 new jobs. Yet, other buildings await, buildings, that barring cataclysmic change, will likely see use well into the next century. These building are responsible, as part of the larger group of buildings worldwide, for approximately fifty percent of the world’s energy use.
It’s safe to say; “the world needs this retrofit boom.”