Go Green for Jobs
How Arizona Created 15,000 Jobs by Accident!
Presented at the AzBizGreen conference, October 7, 2010
Full article in the October 2010 edition of SW-G (Southwest Green Magazine)
You may wish to quibble with me regarding the actual number. May be less or may be a whole lot more, but at least 15,000 jobs have been accidentally saved or created here in Arizona. So just what am I talking about? Allow me to elaborate.
Everywhere you go Arizonans are saving energy and water. Local school districts are going green and redirecting the saved money back to teachers and classrooms.  Last quarter South Mountain High School saved around $28,000 by retrofitting some of its lighting. As I walk through hotels, their lights are CFLs and in their restrooms the faucets have motion sensors. In grocery stores the lights in the display cases are LEDs and have motion sensors so they are only on when you are there. The refrigerators in the soup kitchen are EnergyStar and most of the new buildings downtown are going LEED. More and more homes are doing the same. As kind of the icing on the cake a good friend of mine who is the CFO for an Arizona utility, tells me that his residential power demand has declined 5% because of folks installing energy saving appliances, lights and the use of smart meters.  This is all great news, but my question is, if it is not being sent to the utility company, where is all the money being saved going?
Whenever you inject money into the economy you generate jobs. For example, you get a tax break and get to keep $500 in your pocket. So you go out and buy a new TV helping to create jobs at the store you purchased it from, the manufacture and at all of the businesses that service both. Secondly there is a multiplier effect as the money flows down stream. Accidental defined is, "a happening by chance or unexpectedly or unintentionally."  So as people are saving money by going green, that money is likely being spent somewhere else. Extrapolating my friend's energy demand numbers across all 2.6 million households in Arizona, more than $500 million annually is now being injected into the states economy. In other words totally by accident as Arizona has gone green, it has created or saved 15,000 jobs!
So why is no one taking credit for this or more importantly demanding that we do more? Because to my knowledge no one has looked at the data in this manner. Out of sight, out of mind.
Now that we know, why don't we Go Green for Jobs on purpose? Thanks to the Az. Corporation Commission's energy conservation mandates and Go Green programs everywhere, the regulatory and social framework is already in place. By reducing the per-capita amount of energy and water used by Arizona households, institutions, municipalities and businesses by going green, billions of dollars annually would be injected into the local economy through increased purchases of goods and services. The result of this influx of money would be the creation of perhaps up to 80,000 local jobs within 2 years. Not just "Green" jobs, but jobs across all sectors of the economy.
The overall social, economic and environmental benefits from this idea are significant including, the economy being stimulated, increase revenue to the State from existing taxes, reduced water use, reduced water & air pollution, environmental impact from economic activities. The concept is self-generating without external monetary input thus sustainable (Project pays for itself). Additional benefits may include decreased crime due to greater legal economic opportunity and a decreased need for new power plants. Unlike traditional efforts to stimulate the economy, this is a bottom up effort where each household and business participating would see rapid and measurable results increasing their enthusiasm and desire to do more.
This concept is not new. This kind of conservation effort toward a societal goal was done with great success during WWII. Whenever the nation is under threat, its people band together. The jobless recovery is just such a threat and Going Green for Jobs is a viable, low risk and low cost solution.
Go Green for Jobs!
Green Forward Blog
Sunday, October 10, 2010