Let's Attach "Green Strings" to Subsidies

The old plant-closing activist in me sat stunned tonight as President Obama must have set a record for the number of times the word "manufacturing" appeared in a State of The Union address.

One passage of his speech especially grabbed my attention: when the President suggested a new tax break to encourage manufacturers to retrofit and modernize to reduce their energy costs.

While I will wait to see the details on that one before opining, we at Good Jobs First believe that common state and local economic development subsidies should require that companies getting them build or retrofit to LEED standards or an equivalent (and not just manufacturers, but also retailers, office buildings, warehouses, etc.). After all, the payback period for retrofits is reportedly often quite short and the incremental cost of building new to LEED has declined (and therefore the payback period has also shrunk) as more contractors have mastered it.

In other words, attaching "green strings" to subsidies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce corporate energy bills, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources, and create lots of construction jobs and higher-value maintenance jobs - what's not to like?

For more, see this article I wrote for Grist on the idea.