It's time for America to use existing, garden-variety tax breaks to create oodles of jobs and eliminate gobs of greenhouse gasses. It's time we attach Climate Quality Standards to economic development subsidies such as property tax abatements, Industrial Revenue Bonds, and investment tax credits.
Estimates vary, but buildings generate about a
of greenhouse gasses in the U.S. The
U.S. Green Building Council
are the most widely used system for improving buildings' efficiency, has LEED-EB, its certification for Existing Buildings.
As the New York Times recently
, commercial building owners can recoup the cost (via energy savings) of retrofitting to LEED-EB standards IN JUST 10 TO 30 MONTHS! Adobe recouped its costs in less than 10 months, the Times reports, and now gives tours. (A speaker at the recent
New Partners for Smart Growth conference
said Harvard claims a higher ROI on its physical-plant efficiency efforts than on its endowment!)
Given this reality, it's time for a new leg on our Good Jobs First Subsidy Accountability "stool." Every local and state legislator and executive ought to be applying Climate Quality Standards such as LEED-EB to any company that wants to keep common economic development subsidies. The same principle using LEED standards for new construction should apply to all future deals.
Oodles of jobs as owners of existing buildings scramble to comply and save their giveaways. Gobs less CO2 as America's physical plant becomes more efficient.
Can you say "low-hanging policy fruit?"