Next-Gen Workers Needed for Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative
Every year, more than $600 billion is spent on new construction, renovation and energy in the commercial building sector. While many builders are working to “green” their business, some are taking it to the limit, aiming to achieve net-zero energyconsumption. These net-zero buildings will require a newly trained workforce versed in the next generation of commercial building technology.
A recent report issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy highlights the business opportunity for service firms that specialize in green retrofits:
While some of the technology and practices needed to build zero-energy commercial buildings exist today, these are often expensive and limited to relatively small, simple buildings and require expertise that only a few players possess. To make large, complex zero-energy commercial buildings will require continued technology development, better access to information, institutional innovation, broad capacity-building, and significant investments. To make these buildings commonplace will require a profound transformation in how everyone works – clients, architects and engineers, construction firms, financing institutions, facilities managers and operational staffs who operate and maintain the completed buildings, and teachers who train those who work in all of these vocations.
But from what President Obama said the State of the Union address, a series of initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of energy consumed by commercial buildings in this country – an estimated 20 percent – doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources and preparing a workforce for the job of building and maintaining these buildings is on the way.
Through cost-effective upgrades, the federal government aims to make commercial building space 20 percent more energy efficient in the next nine years and an executive order directs federal agencies to achieve zero net energy by 2030. With new tax incentives for more efficient buildings on the horizon, the push to go net-zero – meaning that a building produces as much energy as it consumes – or at least green will only intensify.