In the last decade, the United States have been continuing to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels by investing into clean technologies, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. Because of such, the United States has been able to make the country a lot healthier, decreasing fossil fuel usage, and making the environment better and healthier.
1) The United States Military Becoming Greener. In 2007, the Department of Defense was given orders by the Congress to have a minimum of 25 percent of energy sources come from renewable sources by 2025. Since then, the government has been taking deep strides toward becoming less dependent on fossil fuels. The 2010 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan looks at immediate ways to improve greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, and energy efficiency. Currently, a number of U.S. Navy aircrafts use biofuels, a Great Green Fleet for the navy is set to run by 2016, and the use of renewable energy sources overseas to limit the dangers associated with traveling to get fossil fuels.
2) More Employment Opportunities Available. With the increase in the number of renewable energy companies, plants, and organizations, there has been an increase in the employment opportunities throughout the United States. For example, Tesla Motors is looking to open a shuttered plant in 2012 that will create 1,000 jobs as the plant manufactures two brand new electric vehicles.
3) Increase in International Cleantech Partnerships. The United States has created a number of partnerships with other countries for cooperation in the advancement of clean technologies. One of the biggest partnerships is with China. Listed as the two biggest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States and China are looking to create new technologies to combat rising climate change. Some of the collaboration between the two countries includes the United States – China Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment, United States – China Clean Energy Research Center, and the United States – China Energy Cooperation Program. The United States – China Electric Vehicle Initiative, for example, looks to increase the overall use of electric vehicles in an effort to reduce fossil fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions, while, at the same time, promoting economic growth.
4) More Homes becoming Energy Efficient. With the advent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating for products, it is becoming a lot easier, and more affordable to purchase appliances for the home that use up less energy. These appliances need to meet very stringent standards when it comes to energy performance. As more homes use these appliances, they are saving money on their monthly electric bills, reducing the total amount of greenhouse gasses emitting from their home, they are a great return on investment, and there are many tax credit and rebate programs associated with these appliances. Not only that, but these appliances require less maintenance.
5) Increase in Sale of Hybrid Vehicles. Just about everywhere people on the road now look; they will see a hybrid vehicle. In the last few years, the percentage of hybrid vehicles has increased exponentially because of the increased fuel economy and the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, there are tax breaks and rebate programs for individuals that choose to trade in their current vehicle for a hybrid vehicle.
6) More Buildings Becoming LEED Certified. The United States Green Building Council makes all the standards for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification of a building. It is considered to be the foremost program in the nation for design, construction, operation, and overall maintenance of green buildings. In the United States there are currently more than 40,000 projects involved with the LEED rating system. Some of the LEED certified buildings in 2010 include the Wells Fargo Center in Denver, Colorado; the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the KPMG building in Greenville, South Carolina; and the Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza in Seattle, Washington.
7) Recycling Initiatives Get a Boost. Instead of just a national recycling initiative, numerous states are creating their own initiatives to get the residents of the state to recycle more. For example, Midwestern states Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, in 2005 joined together to create a unified approach for the recycling and management of waste electronics. In North Carolina in 2011, the state joined the “A Bag’s Life” recycling initiative to promote awareness of recycling plastic bags received at retail stores and grocery stores.
8 ) Exporting Clean Technologies around the World. The current Obama presidency had made two promises – to continue in investing in the clean technology sector and to invigorate the export sector. In a federal initiative that was drawn in 2010, a number of United States agencies, led by the United States Department of Energy and Commerce are partnering up to increase the export of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency technologies around the world throughout the next five years. The United States is focusing on those countries that have policies in place to allow for said technologies. By exporting these clean technologies, the United States hopes to increase innovation so the world becomes more environmentally conscious.
9) More Airline Companies becoming Greener. To keep up the trend of transportation becoming greener, a number of United States airline companies are stepping up the initiative to become more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. A number of airlines, including JetBlue, Continental Airlines, and United Airlines all have carbon offset programs. U.S. Airways has implemented a number of green programs; including retiring a number of planes and replacing them with fuel efficient ones, as well as making their Arizona-based headquarters Gold LEED certified.
10) Hotels Become Greener. Along with the transportation industry, the tourism industry is also looking to become greener. A number of them have implemented initiatives that include not laundering linens and towels everyday to save water and energy, promoting recycling, using Energy Star appliances, and even special parking features for tourists visiting in hybrid vehicles. For example, the Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge in Homer, Alaska uses electricity generated by wind and hydro only, uses organic linens, utilizes non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products, and grows their own organic garden.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org