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Week of 3.28.08

Save Energy, Save Money, Save the Planet

Could a new effort to fight global warming save money and create jobs at the same time? NOW looks at a city-wide plan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to make all its buildings more energy efficient. Up to 80 percent of emissions in many urban cities comes from buildings. Cambridge hopes that this unprecedented effort to green its buildings will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent in just five years, the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road. If every major city in America took the same approach, it would have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of the United States —and it would generate tens of millions of new "green" jobs.

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The Cambridge Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group, will help clients cut their energy use 15-30 percent, which translates into a lower utility bill. The Alliance will then help clients secure loans to pay for the building retrofits, loans designed to pay themselves off by the savings on those utility bills. Retrofitting thousands of buildings could also create a new green job market in Cambridge. It's a bold new experiment, but the Alliance hopes to become a national model that puts green thinking on display, as well as more green in people's pockets. Will this entrepreneurial effort bring new converts to the environmental movement?

Related Links:

Cambridge Energy Alliance

U.S. Green Building Council: LEED Green Building Rating System

North Carolina State University: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

U.S. Dept. of Energy: A Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

U.S. Dept. of Energy: Energy Efficient Building Technologies Program