07/06/2012 03:44 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2012

An Emerald Valley Blossoms In Sacramento

Here's what's working in Sacramento: A partnership that helps our environment, creates jobs and attracts new investment, all in one amazing concept.

The program is called Ygrene, or "energy" spelled backwards. Last year, Sacramento was chosen by President Obama as one of just five cities in the nation to benefit from investment in our local construction industry, where the unemployment rate has topped 30 percent. Since then, dozens of cities have followed us and joined the program.

The Ygrene investment is part of the "Carbon War Room" program originated and nurtured by Sir Richard Branson, the global visionary who founded Virgin airlines.

Thanks to President Obama's strategy and the investment of Sir Richard and other partners, hundreds of workers from the Sacramento region will soon arrive at job sites to make commercial buildings more energy efficient by retrofitting the properties with modern materials. Eventually, schools and other public buildings will benefit from upgrades and energy retrofits.

The work isn't being done at taxpayer expense. Upfront costs are paid by private companies, who will benefit from lower energy bills that result from the improvements.

In Sacramento, the retrofit commitment is 12 million feet of commercial property. And that's just the beginning.

This commitment is part of the Greenwise Joint Venture, my larger vision to transform Sacramento into the Emerald Valley: the greenest region in the country and a hub for clean technology.

Thanks to Greenwise's efforts, There's $100 million available to property owners within the city, thanks to our partnership with Ygrene Energy Fund.

The Ygrene program translates to 1,500 jobs -- and that's before we add schools and universities to the program. Sacramento will achieve a 20 percent energy-use reduction by 2020.

Bottom line: it's a game changer for Sacramento. As California's State Capital, we are home to the most progressive environmental policies in the country. And now, with this partnership, we will see yet another example that good environmental policy is good economic policy.

Ultimately, the Ygrene partnership is just one more example of how Sacramento is thinking big, acting big and generating jobs and investment in a big way.