ANALYSIS: Retrofitting - A Unique Opportunity to Save Money and Reduce Emissions

Dispatch from SSC Intern Matt Logan

The New York State Senate passed a bill last Thursday that included a provision to provide financing for the upfront costs of retrofitting homes and businesses. Retrofitting is a process which increases efficiency with measures such as enhancing insulation and installing energy efficient appliances.  The bill allows state energy regulators to grant loans of up to $13,000 for individuals and $26,000 for businesses to retrofit their buildings.  The loans would then be paid back through monthly deductions from energy bill savings that occur as a result of the retrofit. 

While this bill may seem to have consequences relevant only to New Yorkers, it highlights a growing awareness regarding the potential to decrease energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions via enhanced energy efficiency.  Experts from the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy research institute, to McKinsey & Co., a management-consulting firm, have long recognized this potential.

Amory Lovins, head of the Rocky Mountain Institute, stated in 2005:

Increasing energy end-use efficiency — technologically providing more desired service per unit of delivered energy consumed — is generally the largest, least expensive, most benign, most quickly deployable, least visible, least understood and most neglected way to provide energy services.

Recently, several high profile projects, such as the $20 million dollar retrofitting of the Empire State Building, have highlighted this.  This retrofit is expected to save $4.4 million in energy expenses annually and thus will pay for itself in four to five years.  However, it was paid for out of already available cash, an option that is not accessible to many home and business owners.  Hopefully, more legislators and financiers will recognize the latent potential of retrofitting, as New York’s state Senate has, in order to take advantage of this unique opportunity to both save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information, access the entire NY Times retrofitting article here.