The Return on this Investment? 20-to-1. . .

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted November 22, 2006

In 1981, I spent many winter afternoons sitting respectfully at my desk, shivering underneath a wool hat and scarf while my fifth grade teacher tried to ignore the small puffs of fog that fell out of her mouth following every sentence.

The school I attended was built in the early 1930s . . . and the furnace was shot. To make matters worse, the classrooms were equipped with old lead glass windows and splintered window frames. So occasionally, when it got really windy, our papers would actually move on our desks.

The point is—it was freakin’ cold!

Of course, it wasn’t long before that school was demolished and a brand new building was erected. Problem is, while it may have working heat today, it’s still an enormous energy hog.

In fact, many of today’s school buildings are still poorly designed structures that waste massive amounts of energy, built by the lowest bidder.

But thanks to a costly energy crunch on the horizon, our nation’s newest school buildings could be the first of many “Green Schools” designed not only to dramatically cut energy and water use, but also to actually provide comfortable, productive and healthy work environments for students and faculty.

Oh . . . and there’s an opportunity for investors here too!

Schools See Green in Green

Last week I attended the Green Build Conference in Denver. During the opening session, Rick Fedrizzi, President and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), gave an enlightening speech that got this crowd of progressive architects, engineers and builders all worked up.

He talked about the growth of the industry, the increasing numbers of Green Building professionals becoming LEED-certified (about five to ten every business day) and the goal the organization has of reaching 100,000 certified commercial buildings and one million certified homes by 2010, and one million certified commercial buildings and ten million certified homes by 2020.

(Buildings can earn different levels of LEED certification that ultimately up the worth of the structure dramatically.)

But the one part of Fedrizzi’s speech that really fired them up revolved around the dawn of Green School construction.

Here’s an excerpt that I’d like to share with you.

“In America, more than 55 million students and more than 5 million faculties, staff, and administrators go to school every day. That’s over 20% of America’s population that spends about six hours a day in a school building.

Now you know how it works. Schools are built with tax dollars. In fact, in 2007, over $35 billion of those tax dollars will be spent on K-12 construction.

Typically they are built to meet code, and nothing more. They have poor ventilation, inadequate lighting, horrific acoustics and antiquated heating systems.

We send our kids off to prison every morning and expect them to come home with ‘A’s and ‘B’s.’

When you’re a school superintendent or a school board member, maintaining your facilities takes a back seat to doing something about improving education standards and test scores.

But . . .

What if you could do both?

What if I told you we could show you how to save $100,000 a year on the average school?

That we could help you save fully one third of the dollars you spent on energy costs for that school this year . . . and a third of the water costs?

For every school, you could hire two more teachers with that money. Or buy 150 new computers or 5,000 new textbooks.

What if I told you that the total ROI on this school could be 20 to 1?

20 to 1!

What if we told you that all you had to do was build your school green and you could cut costs, improve test scores and enhance student health. After you got over your skepticism, you’d probably say:

Prove it.

So we have.

I’m extremely pleased to announce that today we are releasing a comprehensive report that demonstrates a direct and scientific correlation between building design, materials, HVAC operations, maintenance and cleaning practices . . . and the health and development of students and staff.”

This particular report found that the total financial benefits of Green Schools are 20 times greater than the initial cost, include significant energy and water savings, and can improve student health and test scores.

Also, the report’s findings show that if all school construction and school renovations went “green,” starting today . . .

Energy savings alone would total $20 billion over the next ten years.

Over 2000 additional new jobs would be created each year just from increased use of energy efficiency technologies.

Teacher retention would improve and dangerous air pollutants that cause respiratory disease would decrease.

Yes. This is going to happen.

And guess what?

Someone’s going to have to come up with the sustainable building materials, renewable energy integrations and next-level water conservation and recycling systems to do this.

And that’s where we’re going to clean up.

While at the conference, I uncovered two companies that are perfectly positioned to take the lead in two different segments of this industry. One is a building-integrated solar provider and the other is an ultra-efficient lighting company.

I met with representatives from both companies during my trip. And after those meetings, I’m confident that both of these companies will soon find a spot in our portfolio.

In the meantime, to find out more about the publicly-traded companies currently operating in the Green Building sector, join our free Green Chip Review Daily Updates today.

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