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The Commonwealth of Virginia has long bragged that it is a leader in:

  • Good governance (especially fiscal management)

  • Support for good public education (including a top public university system)

  • Protection of its historical legacy and landscape (such as Civil War battlefields and the Piedmont)

  • Business-friendly policy.

Looking at the economic and political landscape, the time seems ripe for taking actions (moving forward with tangible deeds) over the next four years to provide for the common wealth of the Commonwealth of Virginia through a reinforcing of these four core elements of Virginia's governmental policy.

Central to such an approach would be a recognition (and embracing) of the reality that it not the economy versus the environment, but economy and environment.  (For a draft speech on this, that could be used by any politician, at any political level, as a template for something that most Americans would embrace, see: E2 Solution for Energizing America Toward a Better Future.)    Using a term that is gaining moment, in short: Clean Energy Works. And, it would work well within Virginia's heritage.

Amid tight financial times where states are slashing budgets and laying off workers with reduced tax revenues (and swollen unemployed ranks), why should the Commonwealth embark on some form of massive 'clean energy' investment effort.  In short,

Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy can save government entities (taxpayers) money, improve government worker productivity and improve educational performance, help protect the environment, and strengthen business (both in terms of opportunities and competitiveness).

Okay, that is a "why", but what about a "how"? Let us provide just one example:

To promote the common wealth, the Commonwealth of Virginia should establish a major "Greening the Schools" initiative. This would have several elements:

  • A Tiger Team of state (Commonwealth) experts to audit school properties (working with local school systems) and develop investment/retrofit plans for 'greening' schools (with a major focus on improving energy and other resource efficiency);

  • The Commonwealth should seek a bond to pay for 'greening schools'.

  • A key Tiger Team requirement: establish the program for 15+% annual return on investment, for the savings to then be split between the Commonwealth and the local school systems.

What are the benefits of such a Greening the Schools program?

  • Reduced utility bills for school systems throughout the Commonwealth, making resources available for other educational requirements (teachers?) or enabling reduced tax loads;

  • Creating jobs throughout the state (those retrofits) while sparking business opportunities (those retrofits) and fostering citizen's and business ability to have energy efficiency improvements done in the home/business due to increased local capacity for (and knowledge of the value of) such retrofits;

  • Improved school performance (through more comfortable educational spaces (better lighting, better temperature control, fewer pollutants in the air), reduced illnesses/absences (both teachers and students), etc ...)

  • And ... the list could go on.

This program, likely to merit a bond program of over $500 million (and perhaps several $billions over a number of years), would enhance the Commonwealth's reputation for good governance, focused on win-win-win solutions, through adroit partnerships of the private and public sectors, with the ability to track results and performance.

It could also serve as an example for the nation, creating a template for other states to embrace such win-win-win solutions.

Consider approaching the economic challenges faced by the Commonwealth of Virginia (and the rest of the nation) through the path of such win-win-win-win efforts.  This would be truly praiseworthy acts ... in other words, deeds for the Common Wealth of the Commonwealth.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 03:37 PM PDT.

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