Energy efficiency naturally fits in the discussion of crafting legislation to create jobs. Energy efficiency projects are labor intensive and lower energy costs for consumers and businesses, allowing them to spend on more productive investments. Particularly in the badly-hit construction sector, energy efficiency projects can put people back to work in the energy services sector conducting energy audits and retrofits. The intersection of jobs and energy efficiency goals support a growing movement for economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner. Training a clean energy workforce will be imperative to compete in a carbon-constrained economy.
The first major piece of jobs legislation that incorporated energy efficiency was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which supported numerous energy efficiency initiatives including home weatherization. The energy-related ARRA funds will allow cash-strapped businesses and state governments to lower utility bills. Schools, hospitals, and other public facilities will also use ARRA-funds to lower operating costs and invest energy savings into important services for communities. The energy programs funded by ARRA will leverage substantial private sector investment, spurring job creation in industries hit hard by the recession such as construction and manufacturing.
Home and building retrofits continue to garner support for inclusion in potential job-creation bills as the Obama Administration and Congress try to address a high unemployment rate. The focus of a potential bill in 2010 is on green jobs, in particular, three major efficiency provisions are in development – residential retrofits, industrial and CHPefficiency grants, and commercial retrofits. As of this writing, prospects for the first two provisions are promising; the third was developed later and its prospects are unclear. Some additional money may also go toward renovation of public housing, including efficiency improvements and to replacement of inefficient manufactured homes.