Job Creation Possible through Energy Efficiency: New Website Helps Communities Pursue Economic Development


Helping Communities Find the Benefits of Efficiency: RMI’s New Website
Calculates Energy Savings Potential





SNOWMASS, Colo., March 8, 2004 – Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
announces the launch of the Community Energy Opportunity Finder, an
interactive website that calculates potential energy and dollar
savings, air pollution emissions reductions, and potential jobs a
community could create by implementing an energy efficiency program.

“Economic development professionals tend to focus exclusively on
recruiting new businesses,” said Michael Kinsley, founder of RMI’s
Community Services team. “Most simply don’t know that there are
business development and job creation opportunities in energy
efficiency and renewable energy.” The Finder will give community
members or leaders a tool to link changes in a municipality’s energy
use to economic impacts.

Users of the Finder website enter basic information about their city
or town, its energy use, and its physical characteristics. The Finder
then allows the user to create and save multiple scenarios for the
community, using different economic assumptions. Finder users don’t
need a lot of technical expertise to take advantage of its planning
features, so active community groups can use it as easily as
community officials.

According to RMI, the Finder doesn’t take the place of an economic
development consultant, but is intended to provide the equivalent of
an energy consultant’s preliminary analysis.

Energy efficiency works as an economic development engine in two
ways. First, investment is required in devices and equipment –
efficient motors, efficient lights, and the labor required to, for
example, insulate homes and commercial and industrial buildings. All
of these activities create jobs.

Secondly, utility bills for residences and businesses are reduced,
freeing up money to spend in other ways. This money improves people’s
lives and allows further investment in the community.

The city of Sacramento provides a compelling example. In 1987
Sacramento voters refused to allow the municipal utility company to
invest in a nuclear electric generation plant. The utility responded
by helping customers use energy more efficiently, which avoided the
need for new electricity generation. It also had the amazing
unanticipated side effect of creating 880 new jobs and increasing
regional income by $124 million.

A team of RMI researchers developed the Finder in partnership with
the Environmental Protection Agency. The Finder website relies on
research from The Community Energy Workbook, written in 1994 by
former RMI researchers, Alice Hubbard and Clay Fong. RMI’s other
partner in the project, the Land Information Access Association, a
non-profit group that helps communities cope with the impacts of
changing land use, programmed the Finder’s engine to do the necessary
calculations.

For more on the Finder, please read the full article “Helping Communities Find the Benefits of Efficiency: RMI’s New Website
Calculates Energy Savings Potential” online in the spring issue of RMI’s Solutions newsletter at the following link:
http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid1080.php. If you are interested in
republishing the article, please fill out a Reprint Request form at
the following link:
http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid615.php.

Find the Finder at http://finder.rmi.org. For more on LIAA, please
visit http://www.liaa.org.

Rocky Mountain Institute is a 20 year-old entrepreneurial nonprofit organization. RMI’s staff shows businesses, communities, individuals, and governments how to meet their goals in ways that create more wealth and protect the environment simultaneously – often by meeting goals more efficiently. For more on our work, please visit our main website at http://www.rmi.org, or go to our Media Materials section at http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid65.php.