Sometime this month, your friends in Washington are going to mail you a check for $600 while raising the federal deficit by a similar amount. To some, this may seem like a good idea, but there’s a better, more productive way to get America growing again.
We already know that the 21st-century economy is going to be green. Why not get started down that path faster by reducing America’s dependence on imported oil and creating a new high-wage, “green” export economy , and, oh by the way , do something for the environment? We can turn yesterday’s entrepreneurs into today’s eco-preneurs.
Instead of cutting checks, how about offering rebates on high-efficiency water heaters or energy-saving light bulbs, and extending federal production credits for renewable energy such as wind and solar power?
If every household in the United States converted to high-efficiency, tankless water heaters, America could save the equivalent of 300 million barrels of oil a year and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150 million tons.
Similarly, replacing just one light bulb in each American home with an efficient compact fluorescent bulb could save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for an entire year, saving more than $600 million in annual energy costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to removing more than 800,000 cars from America’s roads.
As a green developer in San Diego, I know Americans across the country can become more energy efficient.
We’re seeing it happen in Southern California. Our new 1,800-acre sustainable community, Del Sur, features high-efficiency water heaters, energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving lighting in nearly every home.
In 2007, with only 20 percent of the development complete, our homeowners generated more than half a million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity and shaved $70,000 off their electric bills.
When homeowners discover that they can make their electric meter slow to a crawl, they get excited about the savings.
When I see American families living the Southern California lifestyle in 3,000-plus-square-foot homes with gourmet kitchens and all the latest appliances , and their monthly electric bills are close to zero , I know there’s no barrier to America going green.
Fred Maas is the president and chief executive officer of Black Mountain Ranch LLC. He serves as the chairman of the board of the Centre City Development Corp., downtown San Diego’s redevelopment authority.