02/26/2009 10:31 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

State of the Nation: What Does It Mean For Efficiency?

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President Obama gave the "State of the Nation" address Tuesday and didn't disappoint. He continues to beat the drum for efficiency and display a big picture understanding of how we can improve our economic outlook and take urgent action on climate change.

"We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America."

Notice the order here. We address our infrastructure, we focus on our economy through building retrofits and we push forward on renewable energy, all within the overarching context of climate change action. I agree completely. Climate change legislation is huge for efficiency.

The President says we are going to get to work making our buildings more efficient and save billions. He is not exaggerating; the benefits are huge.

Retrofitting homes is a labor intensive endeavor. An average home retrofit takes a crew of 3 people about 5 days to complete. There are 111 million homes in this country. We can cut consumption in these homes 30-50% or $700 to $1150 annually on average. Every 4 crews or so needs a project manager. Every retrofit company needs accountants, executives, salesmen, and administrative staff. They need legal advice, they need office supplies, and they need to advertise. The insulation, caulk and sealants, appliances, and mechanical systems they install have to be manufactured. The money that each person saves from being wasted on energy will be spent, supporting other industries and creating more jobs. Add to this projection the 4.8 million commercial buildings in this country, representing 72 million square feet of space. No, he is definitely not exaggerating.

Sounds like a plan to me.

This post originally appeared on NRDC"s Switchboard blog.