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A group for discussing what "sustainability" means for local government and our profession.

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Hannah Wolford

May the best team win! Join EPA's National Building Competition to compete to save the most energy and money. See the full roster of competitors and learn more about the competition at

Hannah Wolford

Compete with commercial buildings in every state to see who can save the most energy and water! Join EPA's National Building Competition

Hannah Wolford
Hannah Wolford

What could your local government do with an extra $25,000!? For the past 2 years, that's how much the average competitor in the EPA's National Building Competition has saved in energy usage! Registration is now open for 2015, find out more at

Hannah Wolford

Share the gift of ENERGY STAR training! Join us to learn about a variety of topics, including achieving energy savings while preserving indoor air quality, updates to Portfolio Manager Web Services, green building rating systems, and how to use the Portfolio Manager tool. To view scheduled trainings and register, visit

Hannah Wolford

The 2015 ENERGY STAR Awards Application Deadline is quickly approaching! Applications are due by Dec. 4th, 2014 8PM EST. Apply now!

Hannah Wolford
Richard Sanderson

I am interested in an opportunity to do pro bono work for a local government or NGO in the early stages of a green building project (also known as high-performance and energy-efficient buildings or sustainable buildings). I was recently credentialed as a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Green Associate (LEED GA) from the Green Building Certification Institute. My background is in the valuation of real estate for local taxation, but am expanding my specialization to include the valuation of sustainable buildings (new construction and retrofits).

William Goetz

Evidence-based analysis of sustainability initiatives. Part 3: Subsidies and externalities.
William Goetz William Goetz | March 25, 2014
Energy production from fossil fuels is estimated to cause 30,000 excess deaths per year in the US from pollution. More US citizen die every year from this pollution than the cumulative deaths from all the years of our recent wars. It causes an estimated 400,000 deaths worldwide.

On top of this, its global warming costs are estimated to be in the range of trillions of dollars.

Such hidden costs, also known as externalities, disrupt the economic, political, geologic, biologic, geographic, and social equilibrium of governments and citizens, thus upsetting global, transnational, national, homeland, and individual security (Homeland Security Affairs Journal,

The National Academy of Sciences estimates the hidden health costs of pollution from fossil fuels in the US to be in excess of $130B per year. The environmental costs add billions more. ("The Hidden Costs of Energy."

Despite this, the US subsidizes fossil fuel energy producers to the tune of more than $500 Billion per year $500,000,000,000 - note the number of zeroes). Globally, the subsidies account for $2.4 Trillion annually ($2,400,000,000,000), or about 3% of the world’s GDP, and 8% of global government revenues (International Monetary Fund,

The fossil fuel subsidies noted above are vigorously supported by the same free market advocates who vehemently decry renewable energy subsidies as an anathema to “free market” principles. Yet, in total, these current fossil fuel subsidies make any proposed renewable energy subsidies look like pocket change.

Because these subsidies and externalities (the aforementioned hidden health and environmental costs) are not reflected in the price of gasoline at the pump, this is a textbook example of the failure of free markets to set prices.

We might consider taking away these fossil fuel “entitlements” in a reasoned manner (see previous IMF reference for strategy). It would assuredly decrease jobs in the fossil fuel sectors. However, since every dollar into the renewable energy sector creates more jobs than money added to the fossil fuel sectors, more jobs would be created, with a net increase in GDP.

If we transferred only a portion of these eliminated “entitlements” from fossil fuel producers to the DOD, we could refund our military. If we transferred another portion to the DOH and states, we could recoup any unanticipated costs of Obamacare “entitlements,” which are so decried by free market advocates.

Fossil fuel “entitlements”, along with the consequent negative effects of global warming, represent the most costly failure of the free market in human history.

The elimination of these fossil fuel “entitlements” would save countless lives, now and in the future.

How many lives does your gallon of gasoline cost?

William F. Goetz, MD

William Goetz

Evidence-based analysis of sustainability initiatives. Part 2: There is no such thing as "clean energy."
March 25, 2014 | 12:02 AM

Utilities are claiming that natural gas plants produce relatively clean energy compared to other fossil-fuel electricity producing plants such as coal-fired facilities. Some are promoting this as a bridge until renewable energy sources become the norm. Unfortunately, over a period of 25 years, natural gas plants create more global warming than coal- fired plants. The explanation here is somewhat of an oversimplification, but should suffice to elicit comments.
The coal plants produce high quantities of sulfur dioxide, which blocks global warming by reflecting sunlight. On the other hand, natural gas plants produce high levels of methane, which has a much higher greenhouse gas warming effect per weight than carbon dioxide. "Methane has a global warming potential that is 72–105 times greater than carbon dioxide over an integrated 20-year period after emission and 25–33 times greater over a century period."
In addition, life-cycle emissions from natural gas extraction by fracking, and then its subsequent transportation and refining, releases higher quantities of both carbon dioxide and methane, as well as releasing other toxins into the environment. Over a period of time, the methane more than cancels out the decreased carbon emissions from natural gas plants relative to coal-fired plants.
"Thus, natural gas is not a near-term ‘‘low’’ greenhouse-gas alternative, in absolute terms or relative to coal. Moreover, it does not provide a unique or special path to renewable energy, and as a result, it is not bridge fuel and is not a useful component of a sustainable energy plan."
Sometimes you don't get what you think you're paying for. Sometimes you get more of what you think you're paying for to get less.
William F. Goetz, MD

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