The city of New York and online retailer Amazon are launching green construction projects that take advantage of renewable energy sources and promote energy efficiency.
Amazon has secured the final permit necessary to build a solar farm in Virginia, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city will assist landlords in retrofitting buildings with technology that is more energy efficient and promotes water conservation.
“The Amazon solar farm will use 250,000 solar panels and generate 80-megawatts of power.”
Amazon Embraces the Sun
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced at the end of September that the state had approved the final permit Amazon needed to move forward with its solar farm project. Construction is scheduled later in 2015 and will be completed in fall of 2016.
The 900-acre solar farm will be built in Accomack County and will power the data centers for the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform, according to Construction Dive, an online news source for the construction industry. It will also be one of the biggest solar farms in the eastern part of the country.
The Amazon solar farm will use 250,000 solar panels and generate 80-megawatts of power. The Times-Dispatch noted that the facility would be able to generate enough electricity to power 15,000 homes.
This one project will significantly expand Virginia’s renewable energy footprint. The Solar Energy Industries Association noted that Virginia had 15 megawatts of solar energy installed, ranking it 31st in the U.S. for total solar photovoltaic capacity. However, Gov. McAuliffe said the state is committed to renewable energy.
“We are now in the game. We weren’t in the past even suited up. We didn’t even have our uniform on,” McAuliffe said, according to the Times-Dispatch. “I think we’re sending the signal that Virginia is open and welcoming to renewables and this is a good place to do business.”
New York goes retro
About the same time Virginia paved the way for Amazon’s solar farm, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his new energy efficiency/emissions cutting program, “One City Built to Last.” By 2050, the program aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 80 percent, Politico New York reported.
To accomplish that goal, the city is introducing a “retrofit accelerator,” which will put building owners in touch with green energy experts to explore retrofitting their properties with conservation and green energy technology, Construction Dive reported. The advisors will also assist property owners with permits, financing and other incentives.
If the city retrofits about 1,000 buildings a year between now and 2025, it will cut emissions by roughly 1 million metric tons. Politico New York reported that cutting emissions by that much would be roughly equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. It would also save property owners about $350 million in utility bills annually.
“Green construction accounted for 2.3 million American jobs this year and contributed $134.3 billion in labor income.”
Green Construction’s Economic Impact
Green construction continues to play a significant role in the overall construction and labor markets. A U.S. Green Building Council study released in late September found that green construction accounted for 2.3 million American jobs this year and contributed $134.3 billion in labor income, according to Real Estate Weekly.
The study, which was prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton, indicated that by 2018, jobs in the industry will increase to 3.3 million and labor income will go up to $190.3 billion.
Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, said the impact on the economy was due in large part to programs like USGBC’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
“Demand for green building will only continue to grow as individuals, businesses and institutions continue to prioritize sustainable approaches to the design, construction and operations of our built environment,” Fedrizzi said, according to Real Estate Weekly.
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