The 'green gold' rush is on, and as a consumer, entrepreneur, investor, and parent you don't want to be left behind!
I found $75 in my living room last week! I used $20 of it to buy 2 Sylvania compact fluorescent light bulbs that will save me $75 in energy costs over the next 8,000 hours. So instead of looking under the seat cushion for change - I stood on the cushion and changed - two light bulbs. My wife and I spent the $55 in savings on a night out together.
Now this is getting weird. After finding $75 yesterday, I started hunting around my house and found $750! I used $175 of it to buy the 20 bulbs that will save me $750. I bought a new Yahama keyboard for $250, my wife tucked away $250 in our savings account, and we went out for a sushi dinner with the $75 left over.
Things keep getting crazier! I think I may have seen $4000 in our driveway! My dedicated wife drives from Ann Arbor to Detroit and back each day and logs a total of 100 miles a day - 500 a week - 25,000 a year. Our 2 year old Ford Escape - 30 mpg highway - already has some 60,000 miles on it.
Yesterday, I saw a Honda Civic hybrid drive by our house. The car gets a whopping 51 mpg and is priced competitively. When I'm ready to buy a new car, all I have to do is walk into a Honda showroom and buy a Civic to begin saving us about 33% on our monthly auto gas bill - an additional $66 per month - $800 per year - $4000 over 5 years!
This past April, five graduate students at UC Santa Barbara worked with campus professionals and students, with help from the National Association of Environmental Law Societies, to find a potential $5 million in energy savings by 2010! This model project Campus Climate Neutral will be replicated at the top graduate programs in the country next year, and may uncover close to $1 billion in potential national collegiate energy savings over the next couple of decades.
The Santa Barbara students then raised another half million dollars in undergraduate and graduate student fees without a single fundraiser to get things started. That's $5.5 million in savings and funding over the next 15 years! If the school taps into these savings, I wonder where they will spend all that money!
Last Fall, Forbes Magazine ran a story on Chinese photovoltaics vendor Zhengrong Shi. According to the article, Mr. Shi "...is worth only $2.2 billion. If he could just make solar power cost-effective, he could be really rich." Forbes, March 27, 2006.
The article noted that Mr. Shi was one of the happiest people on the planet on the night that President Bush declared that the US was addicted to oil and would have to wean itself off of it. Shi - who may well go down in history as the first solar Rockefeller, Morgan, Edison, or Carnegie of the Modern Industrial Revolution - has realized how to capture the billions of dollars in energy falling from the sun every day.
So, even with the Dow closer to 11,000 than 12,000 and threats of inflation rising, there is still easy $ out there! Everywhere! I urge you all reading this to take a look in your living room, around your house, out on your driveway, in the show room, at the store, and when you invest. The next great gold - I mean green - rush is on, and as a consumer, entrepreneur, investor, and parent you don't want to be left behind!
Dan Worth is the Executive Director of the National Association of Environmental Law Societies, a coalition of environmental law student groups that seeks to mobilize the university community in support of public interest environmental solutions. Dan also currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Energy Action Network, a coalition of student and youth groups working on climate and energy issues.