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Green Policies Will Pay Off at Home and Work
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Michael Vargas
By the time my little girl turns 21 in 2030, 90 percent of cars could be electric or hybrid, according to a new study by Google. Clean energy innovations, such as electric and hybrid cars, could add $155 billion per year in GDP and 1.1 million jobs to the country by 2030. But some of us have known for a while that clean energy saves money and improves the bottom line. I focus on saving money through clean energy in a place you might least expect it: property values.
Many building owners believe added curb appeal or interior design renovations will bring the most benefit, but improving energy-efficiency can make a property worth a lot more. For example, instead of repaving a parking lot and retiling the lobby, doing an energy upgrade (retrofit) might make more sense. LEED Certified buildings command rent premiums of $11.33 per square foot and sell for $171 per square foot more than non-LEED competitors, according to a study by a commercial real estate research firm.
My company, Atlas Project Support, is the result of seeing that there are nontraditional ways to save money and improve bottom lines. The building industry took a severe hit in the recession; clean-technology offers a new opportunity in these challenging times.
Making a Difference
Now, many of us can see the advantages of helping businesses find areas where they can save money through energy-efficiency and other green technologies.
This opportunity was made possible by clean-energy policies in California such as AB 32, California’s landmark clean energy legislation. This law requires energy providers to get more of their electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. It also mandates tougher energy-efficiency standards for appliances, homes and commercial buildings.
Why are these requirements so important for consumers? Because conventional energy prices are volatile, experiencing dramatic price spikes that get passed on to you and me. California’s clean energy and climate security law will help level the playing field between “old and new sources of energy.” Once AB 32 is fully implemented, it will provide the certainty businesses need in order to help them invest in clean-technology solutions.
Energy efficiency and clean-tech are a part of my core belief system because they benefit my community and help make the world a better place for my daughter. Those moving into this space can find a way of making a difference while saving their clients money.
A Dose of Reality
A lot of people are wary of energy retrofits because of the myths surrounding clean-tech. Some believe that it will be too expensive, while others have unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve. Providers should try to find the middle ground and nurture the conversation about what can be done. The aim is to work with people to understand their goals and help them make an action plan.
Making small changes now will payoff in a short period of time, and help companies continue to save money year after year. It’s critical that our elected officials continue to lead California and our nation in clean energy policies. The support AB 32 has received, since it was introduced in 2005, shows that it’s clear the people of California back these policies and want to make it easier for small businesses to make the change to clean-tech and save more money.
Moving forward with clean-energy policies means creating more opportunities for businesses to make more money, while making the world cleaner for future leaders like my daughter.
Michael Vargas is the founder of Atlas Project Support in Bonsall. Mr. Vargas is a Certified Business Energy Professional, Certified Energy Plans Examiner, LEED Green Associate and GBCI Advisory Panel Member, and has a Green Building Construction Certificate. www.myatlasproject.com

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