Making M.U.S.H. Energy Efficient

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December 15, 2011
By: James Irwin, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Sarah L. White, Joel Rogers

Retrofitting the nation’s public and institutional buildings for greater energy efficiency, financing these retrofits from the savings achieved, and requiring local-hire and job and advancement standards for those who do the work can provide the widespread high-road job creation needed in today’s economy. Publicly controlled buildings are an obvious place to focus for a number of reasons.


There are almost 140,000 entities in this sector in the United States, including state and local governments, school districts, colleges and universities, and medical institutions. We estimate that these entities control about 16.5 billion square feet of floor space and use about 3.87 quadrillion BTU a year, at a cost of about $40.7 billion. The estimated cost of upgrading this building stock is between $38.3 billion and $61.2 billion. Such upgrades would save approximately $8.1 billion dollars per year and create between 164,690 and 428,400 FTE. 


This report discusses the financial structures that can be used, the barriers to doing this work, and the policies needed to overcome these barriers and create high-road jobs.


The paper is part of the Big Ideas for Job Creation in a Jobless Recovery project funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the W.E. Kellogg Foundation and organized by the UC-Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Unemployment.