This Saturday, I will be speaking about energy efficiencies at the annual Wild Idaho North! Conference. Preparing for this presentation has given me a chance to zero in on the true potential of efficiencies for buildings and homes. I also used a recent gathering of Sightline supporters to help focus my thoughts. I had two minutes to talk about energy efficiency and here’s the gist of what I said

Efficiency programs and policies in Cascadia, if they are done well, can:

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    • Reduce poverty by saving money over the long term for families working to make ends meet (energy efficiencies could save $1.2 trillion by 2020);
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change (prevent 1.1 gigatons of green house gases annually over the same period);
    • Create jobs in energy efficiency for displaced workers in resource intensive industries (create 1.7 million new jobs and reduce unemployment by 1 percentage point in the northwest); and
    • Complement cap and trade policy by reducing overall energy use (reduce end-use energy consumption by 9.1 quadrillion BTUs, 23 percent of current demand) .

    That is a lot of big numbers for a short talk. (Sometimes you want to wow your audience with your vast knowledge of unfathomable quantities…) But, in all seriousness, I wanted to convey that energy efficiency is about more than just shutting off the lights when we leave a room—or turning down the heat and putting on ugly sweaters. My point is that potential community-wide benefits from structural and policy changes could transform our economy in a big way, if they are coordinated and sustained.

    Much of the data I cited came from the recent McKinsey study of energy efficiency, Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the US Economy, and you’ll see more in our forthcoming policy primer, Green-Collar Jobs: Realizing the Promise. This policy primer is geared at putting the pieces of the energy efficiency puzzle in a way that leads to green jobs. It will be released this week. Keep an eye out for it.