If you guessed it's the energy we don't use, you're right on the mark. You're also right up the alley of U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who has been promoting building retrofitting as a source not only of energy but also of jobs as part of the "Back to Work Minnesota" initiative he launched last October.
Franken brought his energy- and economy-boosting ideas to the University of Minnesota last week in the form of a Forum on Energy Savings and Retrofitting sponsored by the Institute on the Environment, the Energy Service Coalition, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Urban Land Institute, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's "Minnesota Waste Wise" affiliate, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Clean Energy Resource Teams.
"Creating jobs and cutting energy costs is a win-win situation for Minnesota and for the United States, and we badly need to do both," Franken told the more than 100 business leaders and local government officials participating in the forum. "In communities of all sizes across Minnesota, people are realizing that retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient will have both short- and long-term benefits that will more than pay for themselves over time. By partnering with business and city leaders, we can overcome the barriers to making buildings more energy efficient."
U.S. deputy energy secretary Daniel Poneman joined Franken at the forum to speak about the federal Better Buildings Initiative, a public-private program that aims to save more than $40 billion by increasing energy efficiency of commmercial buildings 20 percent by 2020.
Dick Hemmingsen, managing director of IonE's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, says Franken's focus dovetails with IREE's growing emphasis on conservation and energy efficiency. The NorthernSTAR Building America Team at the University of Minnesota, supported by IREE and the U.S. Department of Energy, is bringing together researchers, builders and owners around energy conservation strategies for existing and new homes. A few additional examples of IREE-supported research include novel utility interfaces for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, a solar daylighting project and utilization of corncobs in biomass gasification systems.
Interested in learning more? View a video of last week's Franken forum here. Then check out IREE's projects database for details on these and other energy efficiency and clean energy projects.
Photo courtesy of Al Franken