Introduction to Chapter 18

Hot, Flat, and Crowded has seventeen chapters. What's Chapter 18? Chapter 18 will be a completely new chapter that I’ll add to the next edition of the book: Version 2.0. In it I hope to include the best ideas and proposals sent in from readers: ideas about clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation; about petropolitics and nation-building in America; about how we can help take the lead in the renewal of our country and the Earth alike by going Code Green. I am eager for your suggestions — please post them here.


Sustainable development should be all nations development mantra.

I needed to write to respond to those who think that China's model of one child per family is a great idea.

It is not, and let me explain why.

Firstly such enforcement does NOT happen in democracies. It is undemocratic. What is needed is education of the people. This will bring down birth rates.

Secondly, we've seen what artificially suppressing birth rates can do, it can bring up a whole new generation who has to support larger numbers of the older generation when they grow up. It is not-sustainable.

We need practical , sensible ideas to reduce poverty, population explosion, illiteracy, disease etc.
We need to see that these go hand in hand with global warming, forest/habitat destruction.

Education should be in the forefront of any such revolution to bring about sustainable development.

Educating poor people about sustainable use of land, forests, water, energy should be our focus. It will also help them dig their way out of poverty.

leon (not verified)
March 21st 2009, 7:13 am

Mr.Friedman, I am a great fan of yours ! I have read read "The World is Flat" and am presently reading Hot, Flat and Crowded.What I admire in you is the Perspicacity of Outlook, the logical thought process and inner workings of your mind and the eloquence and clarity with which you articulate and expound your thinking. Amazing ! I have resolved that I will read your other two books also. Beirut to Jerusalem and Longitude and Altitude. I have also seen the video clips of a couple of your speeches and Interview with Charlie Rose and Fareed Zakaria.

I have a suggestion for you. You should use your sphere of influence and your contiguity to the centers of power to influence opinion and policy making and be instrumental in scripting a Kyoto Protocol like treaty which will exert pressure on the signatory nations to enforce population curbs like for example, a One Child Norm. This would be a small step for you but a giant leap for mankind as it would make the world less Crowded and Less Hot ! This way atleast the Malthusian Nightmare can be postponed if not avoided !

In countries like India, which is already having the dubious distinction of being the second most populous nation on the face of this earth, population control has been totally forgotten and there is a stigma attached to discussing population control in public as there was a backlash during the 1975 Emergency when forced Sterilization was done to bring down the fecundity rate and that move proved counterproductive and nobody even talks of Population Control anymore. Such unbridled growth will exert tremendous pressure on the country's natural resources as well as the Planets. I am sure there are several hotspots like China, Brazil, Africa where Population Growth and Growth Rate has reached crisis proportions.

Like how Al Gore came into the limelight for campaigning for a better environment, an iconic figure like you with 3 Pulitzers under your belt should take the lead here

Sridhar Subramaniam
Lexington, Massachusetts

Sridhar Subrmaniam (not verified)
March 20th 2009, 4:36 pm

Mr. Friedman,

I wanted to share a couple emails I sent recently to my Senator and my ex-CEO of DTE Energy that was partially inspired by your book Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

There are three elements to a healthy system. To be fully functional human beings, to be independent, interdependent, then finally it is possible to integrate. We appear at this crossroads now, where we must change as a people both emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.

What a wonderful age we are upon.

Dear Senator Stabenow,

I want to share a recent email to Tony Earley, CEO of DTE Energy. Being a retiree of DTE I have communicated with Mr. Earley in the past many times.

It was a thought I have been harboring and hope it also ignites alternate thought in Mr. Earley.

I am not against nuclear power plants, however as I witness the plans of the utility industry I wonder if the hundreds of billions of dollars that are anticipated being spent would not be better spent going from the centralized system we currently have to distributed green energy. After all, any nuclear plant is at least 15 years down the road. In that time the green technology will become affordable, more advanced, and practical.

After working in the utility industry for 32 years I learned a great deal. What I see in the immediate future are fleets of power plants that are now over 40 years old on average, becoming even less efficient and producing less electricity. Demand, especially as we progress with electric vehicles, will close the gap substantially on supply. My prediction is a consumer uprising within five years if we remain as we currently are headed.

Also, as we all become more apparent of the environmental consequences that lie ahead in the next few years, the outrage and panic will equal what the auto companies are currently going through. This tremendous cost to re-engineer power plants with the necessary environmental equipment will be staggering.

My point to Mr. Early was it is time to become interdependent. For the cost of nuclear plants, retrofitting old worn power plants, and relieving congestion with new power lines, we could have a tremendous footprint into distributed green energy.

In the last census there were about 80,000,000 residences. A rule of thumb is one third of a utilities revenue comes from residential sales. If solar, wind, and fuel cells were mass produced (a possible saving factor for the auto companies), and the cost of individual source of these power sources were reduced to around 1 to 2 thousand dollars, we could as a nation remove one third of the earth damaging emissions, reduce one third all power outages and congestion, reduce importing foreign energy greatly, and so on for a cost in the neighborhood of 80 – 160 billion dollars.

This act will be done in the future, socially and economically this change will occur. Now is the time to bring the major utilities together, the major manufactures, put capitalism and intellectual capital aside for the moment and develop immediate action to begin this process so all are able to move forward. With the correct interdependent actions among all parties we could be well on our way to this destined change within a few years, and before any upheaval.

The biggest opponent to such a plan is bureaucracy. I suspect the Utilities are waiting on the government to act, and the government is waiting on the Utilities to act. Someone must lead, someone must say we can do it, let’s go.

I once heard “luck” defined as; the soul’s ability to make a subconscious decision come true; in that light, good luck Senator.


Gary Carl

From: Gary Carl []
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 2:35 PM
Subject: Opportunity not problems

Mr. Earley,

Over the last decade everyone spoke of the need to change. The trouble being was the need to control the change to fit into individual boxes. As I relayed to you many times that was not change but alteration. The alteration by different processes and systems not the change of the human soul and the soul of entities such as businesses.

Well, change has come, it is here as what is needed not what we had planned. Social, economic, and human change that has opportunity written all through it, not problems as many see it as.

I am writing you with a thought for economic and social change.

I cannot understand why you and Rick Wagoner are not sitting together in a press conference announcing a green initiative. We have the energy expertise they have the manufacturing expertise. Turning these vacant auto plants into solar panel, small wind turbine, and natural gas fuel cell manufacturing centers for the world. Utilizing these many wasted assets and creating value in people.

We plan on spending somewhere around 10 billion of today’s dollars for a nuclear plant 15 years down the road. Could we not take that $10 billion and outfit every residence and commercial building in this service area with either solar, individual wind turbines, or natural gas fuel cells over the next 15 years, once we start mass marketing these items? Would we not move away from outdated centralized distribution of energy to distributed energy? Would we not reduce environmental deterioration, line congestion, and reengineer existing coal plants over one third of present conditions?

Would not your Company increase in value over 30% by being the manufacturer, installer, engineering, and most of all the distribution network for millions of energy sources sitting on roof tops? To stay on the same course may have the same affect in a few years as the auto companies are experiencing now as you know what is down the road environmentally, limited generation, and distribution wise in a few years. Sure demand will increase as supply falls, but the uproar will bring the Utility industry to a level of the auto industry.

The growing third world nations such as China and India have tremendous opportunity as enterprise must begin to be moved out of the over crowed urban areas into rural areas. What prohibits this growth and ingenuity of all people is the lack of the flow of electrons. There is one resounding solution, green energy, not more power plants and stringing wire to remote villages, but fuel cells, solar panels, individual wind turbines. This is a challenge for GM and DTE in harmony.

The challenge for you is to wait such as the auto companies did as they were stuck in yesterday and false pride, or begin today?

As I see it you must begin to hold conferences and consortiums with the minds that can initiate this social and economic change. Green experts, manufacturing experts, energy experts; with countries such as Sweden and Denmark who have switched from central to distributed energy, and so on. Develop a plan and begin, not wait for the government, other Companies, or whomever. The time is right, the time is now for that intrinsic change I harped on you for a decade and it begins with people.

Take care,

Gary Carl

Email to my Sen... (not verified)
March 20th 2009, 12:02 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman,

As a former Interior Designer the lesson I learned in design school was about lifestyle. This led me to a life of moderate self-sufficiency, not to do without; but to use less and expect less, so I could to do more what I wanted to do. One problem I have with much of the green movement is, it is still about consuming. I think we as individuals need to seek a simpler lifestyle for the good of the plant. One simple lifestyle change for us was to reclaim the lower level of our house to employ it's earth sheltered benefits, we brought in more light and access and spend most of our time there. It reduced our need for heat and AC. As a concept, we try to live our vacation, in our metro-urban cabin.

Frequently, I think about the research regarding the atmosphere when all the planes were grounded in the US after 9/11. In your book HFC, I was just reading about tele-conferencing, which I have heard about for years in the ID field; and I have been thinking for years that commuting to work is insane. How many people could be taken out of planes and off the roads today, and what kind of a difference could that make in the atmosphere? Heck, I use to email large government building drawing files back and forth from work to home, that was 10 years ago. The employer wasn't ready to have employees work at home; but I did it to work on things after the regular work day, it could have been a work at home situation easily. Not much has changed over the last decade.

Much needs to be done on public education to see these changes. Economically, this would effect big businesses like the oil industry and the airlines, likely. But, how much less would it cost smaller business to not house all of their employees on a daily basis. There was some research years ago about the indirect costs (like the cost of space) for employees; this was used in contrast to justify better more efficient furnishings. How about trimming all those overhead costs by having employees work from home. This could cut down on the need for so many more commercial buildings; consuming building materials, the environmental problems they present in manufacturing, and filling our dumps with the waste from such projects.

A friend who works in management at a large oil storage facility in the New York City area, talks about small turbines at the mouth of waterways to utilize the tides for power production. It seems like a logical idea to use the natural power of the tides and currents in the oceans. It would be less intrusive to the environment than damming up inland waterways and effecting the Eco-system, or polluting the visual environment with loads of wind turbines (maybe a few are attractive, many are not).

There is much discussion about population control in the previous listed comments, is there any truth about the seemingly altruistic efforts like those of the Gates Foundation to be really about population control in the third world? Just a question. It seems population was much discussed in the 60's, but maybe has become politically incorrect for Caucasians to talk about it openly, when likely Caucasians will be in the minority in the future. Some interesting ideas have been listed in previous posts.

Jenny Sequoi (not verified)
March 18th 2009, 3:18 pm

Hey Mr. Friedman,

A few months ago (before I had the chance to read your book) I wrote here that Americans should support the UNFPA. Thanks to Obama this funding has become a reality. Obama's leadership is truly inspirational and I wish I could see the same from my federal government in Canada.

For the most part I was very happy with your book. I am more of an environmentalist than an economist so I think I was exposed to some new ideas through Hot, Flat and Crowded. However, I was a bit disappointed that you didn't focus very much on the crowded part of our title. You mentioned a bit about overpopulation in the first 200 pages and you made a comment about how China's one child policy saved the country from a population calamity but there could have been much more discussion about population in the last 200 pages of the book.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for conservation and technological approaches to sustainability but our governments need to start taking more of an active role in discouraging global population growth. Obama increased funding for the UNFPA and that is a wonderful first step. But why stop there? Why not make contraceptives absolutely free for everyone on the planet? Why not offer a large "childless bonus" for anyone over the age of 30 that doesn't have a kid? Or better yet a gigantic moderation bonus for anyone over the age of 50 that has only one biological offspring? Why not offer developing countries rewards and trade incentives for implementing (ethical) policies that would bring down their birth rate?

A lot of people say that any family planning programs implemented now would not be effective quickly enough to slow greenhouse gas emissions any time in the near future. However, the reducition in greenhouse gas emissions is only one benefit to shrinking the population. Another bonus is that with a smaller population we won't be fighting over the dwindling natural resources that will be disappearing because of climate change. In other words, if we shrink the global population in the next few centuries it wont matter as much that fresh water is less abundant and crop yields are plummeting.

Instead of adapting our society's consumption habits and technology to compensate for our population growth we should control our population so that it stays within the boundaries set by our environment's carrying capacity. Instead of depending on technology to make an unsustainable society sustainable we should increase our population only after the creation and implementation of technology has made the carrying capacity of earth larger.

I thoroughly enjoyed your book and lood forward to reading chapter 18.

Dante Ryel (not verified)
March 17th 2009, 2:58 pm

Tom, just finished the audio CD of '' HFC '' which you autographed for me while you were in Portland.

Right now there are between 300 and 305 million Americans. Wouldn't there be less pressure on our resources if there were only 205 million. I am going to show you how we can do this, and in only 25 or 30 years. Crime will decrease, less time will be spent in traffic jams, less energy will be used to heat our homes, etc. ; and it will not cost the US government any money.

Here is how it is done: The state and federal governments would slowly start taking away the income tax deductions that are now given for children that are declared as dependents. As an example, by the year 2015 the tax deduction for a dependent child would go to zero ( $0 ). In 2016 there would be a new income tax of $300 for each child born after 2015. In 2017 this tax would increase to $600 per child. The '' child tax '' would increase each year until it reached $2000 per child. If the population needed to be decreased even more, then the '' child tax '' would increase and vice-versa . People will be discouraged to reproduce if they are charged a high tax when having a baby (the pocketbook theory). People could still have children if they wished to, it would just be a lot more expensive. People with less resources would soon learn that they would be better off having fewer children.

mike keating < >

mike keating (not verified)
March 14th 2009, 2:47 am

Tom -- let's get to the point. First, you are simply riding the green bandwagon. You have met me several times but of course don't remember my name. In any case we sat together at the Aspen Starbucks in 1999, and I tried to tell you about how Enron (yes the Enron -- they did some good things too) had purchased Zond, Inc., a wind energy company, and how amazing large scale windpower was. You blew me off and read the Aspen Times, which that day had reprinted your column. green was not your thing until it became cool, much later.

Second, your Hot and Flat book asserts that green energy innovation will come in garages, like the way Apple computers were created. Hell0000 - writing code is different from refining solar cells, which can only be done in sophisticated laboratories, or improving the design of wind turbine blades or controls, which can only be done with major instrumentation etc.

Anonymous (not verified)
March 13th 2009, 12:49 pm

I am currently reading (and very much enjoying) HF&C and want to suggest that for version 2.0, you subject chapters 1-17 to another proofreading to make your energy references consistent and correct. Too often the term kilowatt or megawatt is used when kilowatt hours or megawatt hours is what is intended. While the difference seems pedantic from some perspectives, the inaccurate uses detract from the credibility of your very important observations. Also, there is inconsistency in your use of temperature scale: both Centigrade and Celsius are used - why not use one or the other and not both? [And my perspective is that this comment does not seem appropriate for reproduction on the web page, but so with it whatever you like :-) ]

Ted Burrowes (not verified)
March 12th 2009, 10:05 am

I just finished Hot, Flat and Crowded last week while on vacation. I looked forward to reading it each day when I was relaxing in Florida. US citizens are predominantly unaware of how poorly we use electrons in our society. Half our battle is there. GREEN is not some feel good fashion statement. It will be hard work and require profound innovation. The recent cries of "drill baby drill" were so indicative of the ignorance that exists. They have at least been replaced by a more common sense president on the issues of our national energy policy and our need to severely curtail CO2 emissions.

I work for Herman Miller (known for world class designs in office and residential furnishings). We are devoutly passionate about the environment and have been since the early 1950's. We are also working on our own "smart black box" call Convia.

Here is some more information. I think you might find this of interest:

The Convia sustainable infrastructure was just installed at the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)in Washington DC. You may find this of interest and possibly some further inspection.

This is just one way that Herman Miller is making headway in "ET".

Keep up the great work. I'll keep recommending Hot, Flat and Crowded.

Rick Reid

Rick Reid (not verified)
March 5th 2009, 10:16 pm


I'm a IT Project Manager that believes in the KISS method. In reading Hot, Flat and Crowded and your other writings I get the sense that you do too. Given that I have a simple question for you that I believe could have an extremely profound effect. I would like to know your opinion on a proposal...

Mandate ALL municipal buildings to install one or more forms on Solar Collection system...What would be the effect?

Thanks and I look forward to your comments.

Roy L (not verified)
March 1st 2009, 9:19 am

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I have really enjoyed reading your book, which has made me think deeply about my own way of life.

I just wanted to make you notice something about lithium you may already know. Lithium is considered to be the best material for batteries because (according to wikipedia) of its high electrochemical potential, light weight, and high current density. So lithium seems to be critical for the development of electric cars.

But some weeks ago I read that the sources of lithium are highly concentrated in specific countries. Bolivia is believed to own half of the world's lithium reserves. And other four countries (Chile, Argentina, China and Brazil) own almost the other half.

Please read the following article by the BBC:

Should we free ourselves from petro-dictators for the benefit of the lithium-dictators?

Luis de la Fuente (not verified)
February 28th 2009, 8:33 pm

As a retired professor and the father of a four year old, I am horrified at the prospects for our next generation.

Your book is a serious effort to motivate its readers to begin the arduous and urgent process of effecting the changes needed to save our species.

You talk at length persuasively about the use of "price signals." In that connection, I wish YOU would send a "price signal" by making your important book available to the mass market at a more affordable price. At $28/copy, I am deterred from buying and distributing further copies. Why not publish Hot, Flat, and Crowded in paperback ASAP (dare I say?) at cost?

If you sincerely believe your own hypothesis regarding the urgency of this crisis, this would be a way to demonstrate your own commitment.


Thomas Goetzl

Tom Goetzl (not verified)
February 28th 2009, 1:59 pm

Hello Mr. Friedman:

I have read both of your books, The World is Flat . . .and Hot, Flat and Crowded. . . richly rewarding. I am an Architect and have an idea for redefining Green in the Building Industry.

New Building System for the Construction Industry; Introduction:

It is time to create a new building system which will better serve our needs for the twenty-first century. This system shall include building framing and paneling, be standardized and inclusive to all and provide 100% flexibility for growth and change . . . just like IT protocol.

I propose a whole new method of house construction: mass production of a standardized framing and paneling system including universal interlocking connectors which can be configured to form a building envelope, interior walls, floors and ceilings quickly and efficiently. My idea is not a pre-fabricated home kit of parts with limited options and styles built in the factory and delivered to the site. It shall be instead, an expansive fluid building system with standard parts. The standard panels will support infinite possibilities for material combinations and be available to design by all competing green building manufacturers.

Carbon Glut and Construction Waste:

As I sit typing, this very moment, sounds of hammers pounding, permeate my space. Workers are renovating a house next store and I wonder . . . why not apply Henry Ford's auto assembly line process to house construction? It is a terrible waste of time, energy and materials in building houses one by one. It takes 6-9 months to build or renovate one quality home and demolition damages materials still in their prime. We build houses these days to be permanent, to last a life time then we go about expanding, remodeling and renovating our living environments, often on a whim. On any given day at a construction project, enormous effort is made to frame, plumb, wire, structurally sheathe, apply moisture barriers, window, door, sill and roof flashings; then install the windows, doors, sills and roofs. Exterior finish materials need on site trimming, priming, painting and/or sealing. All of this effort creates only the building envelope.

My Idea:

My idea calls for a factory assembled, standardized framing system (a module determined by structural integrity and ease of transport) which becomes a room size framing cube. The number and location of the cubes shall be determined by the owner's design, budget, site requirements and local building codes. The cubes can grow horizontally or vertically for maximum creativity and flexibility by using a universal, structurally approved interlocking connector system. This connector system will be adaptable for assembly and disassembly. The ground floor cubes will have locking wheels for maneuvering, will be anchored to an engineered foundation unique to each site, but will be capable of relocation. This will cut the costs of extensive and pricey foundation walls which become permanent to the building envelope. Because the cubes have the capacity to be moved, they shall sit lightly on the land, thereby causing less site damage and preserving the natural environment. Each cube shall include a vertical and horizontal mechanical, electrical and plumbing chase complete with factory installed pipes, duct work and wiring. These will be linked up, one to the other, and finally to the main site utility lines offering a uniquely integrated system that can be easily accessed, unhooked, moved, reoriented or replaced in an orderly and flexible fashion without disturbing the adjacent cubes and panels. Each house will have a main "dash" or control panel which displays all house functions (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, lighting, audio, internet and security) all in one place for easy monitoring and maintenance. The building panels with dimensions standardized to match the framing cubes shall be delivered and connected to the cubes with similar universal interlocking connectors (capable of being locked and relocked). Each panel, supporting exterior, interior and insulating materials will become a floor, wall, ceiling or roof component. Ideally, the materials will be local to and assembled in the factory. Interior built-ins for kitchens and baths will be components of specific panels. Material suppliers, fabricators, window and door manufacturers, lighting designers and green building experts shall collaborate as part of the factory team providing constant quality control and future innovation to the assembly line process. Features such as windows, doors, photovoltaics and living roofs shall be panel integrated and ready for delivery. Every panel shall be designed to be removed and returned to the factory for exchange and recycling in order to save valuable building materials and to eliminate waste. Because all materials are mounted to the modular panels, instead of the structurally rigid building frame, they can be removed, stored, exchanged and reused again. Think of the floating floors in Europe where owners, pack them up and take them along to their new environment. An endless variety of panel types can be showcased and ordered through various dealers. This system is inclusive to all manufacturers (green technologies, I hope!) as the materials are installed onto the panels. The panels can continually change as long as standard sizes are maintained. Each panel offers unlimited possibilities for design and competition.


The house construction scenario plays out daily all over the world with profound repercussions to the health of our planet. Millions of workers and tons of building materials are on the move in a fragmented, repetitive and inconsistently controlled process creating enormous expense and piles of waste to every region, community and neighborhood. This process is not going away, but it must evolve into the twenty-first century. By mass producing a standardized framing and paneling system with universal interlocking connectors, we can achieve carbon reduction. These new components will make up the bones of each house. Construction workers can be retrained to position and secure framing cubes, connect chases (wiring, piping and ducts) and to hang panels. A house can be structurally upgraded, renovated and relocated throughout its life without enormous material waste and destruction. Costs can be lowered by increasing construction efficiency, controlling quality and promoting constant innovation and new clean technologies.

Suanne Bassett

Suanne Bassett (not verified)
February 16th 2009, 12:36 pm

Dear Mr Friedman,

Currently, I am reading 'Cradle to Cradle', by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

Wouldn't it be something for you to print your latest edition at Melcher Media, DuraBooks™?
Off course, it is a bit strange at first, holding a plastic book in your hands but is the most
environmental friendly option at present.

Furthermore, I have got some ideas on how to design a 21st century abstract of
Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, ...a suitable match for a 21st century book.

I hope to hear from you. If not, keep up the good work. Regards

René (not verified)
February 13th 2009, 11:15 am

Mr Friedman,

Thanks for a wonderful book that is reaching the masses.

On page 142 you describe a world without living trees, bees or the smell of a flower. A scary, but unrealistic projection on our current dismal trajectory. Instead what will emerge will be very "flat" ecosystems. Sadly many may not see this already emerging, but go to any vacant lot in the US, or better yet, go to ANY populated tropical island near development, and you will see this phenomenon. Despite the beauty you will see, it will be shallow.

You'll see red hibiscus everywhere, and papaya, a number of decorative palms and perhaps really invasive plants like "Custer"s Curse" and Lantana. These backyard ornamentals, well intended introductions and food crops are becoming the basis of tropical island ecosystems. Very flat, biologically simple and sad. But the reality is, most people see it and think the flowers and palms and fragrant and beautiful, and to the untrained eye, they are. Even most indiginous/native born folks don't know what belongs and what does not. There will be pleasant species providng many services, and alone, they are amazing examples of God's work. They just don't belong everywhere, and are rapidly displacing less robust more valuable native species.

OK, so here's an idea that addresses at least one aspect of this problem. Across the tropics, sugarcane, pineapple and other plantation crops have decimated native ecosystems. Sadly, these and other (here comes palm oil) crops have been subsidized, exploited, and often, abandoned, leaving vast fields of opportunistic and invasive non native species that serve as pools of spreading, aggressive plants that hammer the last of the remaining ecosystems.

Herein, national and international policies should require the use of already introduced, or native species for biofuels or other industrial crops. Large industrial cropping systems have many potential impacts, but we'll probably have to go through a huge shake out of experimentation to see if we can bridge to non-fossil liquid fuels. But the closer here is, sucessful or not, when these miles of fields that will often become abandoned, should be replanted and established with native species. We have to start using species that belong, and plugging giant empty niches with the same or we'll end up with truly "flat ecosystems" that provide a fraction of the services we have come to expect from our native ecosystems. Experimentation with fuel crops will only make matters worse if we don't proceed thoughtfully.

Mark Ingoglia (not verified)
February 1st 2009, 7:43 am

This isn't an idea, just a question.
you wrote that Jared Diamond notes that "per capita consumption rates in China are still about 11 times below ours.
I don't believe that is matehmatically possible. One time below ours would be zero, and 11 times below would be a negative number. I have notices this tendency in journalists, to say that someting is 4 times less, or 200% fewer, and it just doesn't make sence. Maybe you cvan explain this to me. Just what is 11 times below?

Richard C. Suits (not verified)
January 29th 2009, 3:05 pm

HFC is an important prod to encourage the US to adopt new values. But in another sense it seems to put the responsibility primarily on our government to promote greener policies.
I wanted to enforce Tanya's comments (in Chapter 18) that adopting a vegetarian (or flexatarian) lifestyle is something that everyone can do NOW. Eating meat:
1. Contributes to forest clearing and environmental degradation in order to feed the inefficient (from an energy standpoint) meat producing system.
2. Significantly increases atmospheric methane, a more potent green-house gas than CO2.
3. Is less healthy than a vegetarian diet, straining our health care delivery system.
4. Does more environmental damage than driving a Hummer.
5. Demands Federal subsidies better used to stimulate our economy.
6. Promotes an inhumane exploitation of other sentinant creatures.

While it is unrealistic to expect that everyone will eschew meat, cutting down the volume would help a lot.

In addition, Mr. Friedman gives short shrift to other, simple measures - such as insulating homes, building passive solar homes (without photovoltaic collectors) and a more active (riding bicycles, walking, etc.) lifestyle - that would have immediate, beneficial effects for our economy, health and environment.

Dr. B. Good (not verified)
January 29th 2009, 9:27 am

I think the Stimulus effort should be focused on the Housing Community where everyone is suffering.

Reduce all Home Mortgages - to everyone - by four interest points for one year, 3 the following year, then two, then one - a four-year trajectory.

Immediate cash relief and cah flow stimulus would occur.

Government relief to Mortgage Holders equals these interest reductions, on the Terms that at all of the support subsidies be re-lent to the marketplace as loans, at least half of these at these 4 year reduced interest rates. That immediately pumps the liquidity in credit markets.

The availability of these low-interest loads coupled with reduced housing pricing should trigger immediate demand for sales of existing Properties as well as stimulate new Construction, as well demand re-establishing Property values and putting a floor under equity valuation.

New Mortgages moving forward to regulated for creditworthiness so as not to duplicate the subPrime - but the immediate reduction of 4 interest points extends to all current mortgage holders - providing a true Stimulus where it's needed.

William H. Wender (not verified)
January 28th 2009, 11:27 am

Mr. Friedman,

First, I apologize, I posted a story that I meant to put here under price signals. It's about the origin of the CFC/Carbon Credit . Please read it.

Have you read, out of curiosity, the Panda's Thumb. Are you familiar with punctuated equilibrium? I call what's going on now punctuation. I feel it is the opportunity Green has been waiting for. Myself and several friends (me from Vermont, they from Arlington, VA), are putting together a group to access who we know in China, India, Columbia, London and here in the US to 1) develop the grass roots that we need, to 2) develop the interface that we need (through my contacts), 3) to develop the education that we need and 4) to continue Mr. Ely's mission. They are on board. We even believe that this punctuation gives us the opportunity to have Obama give us "A Green Deal" instead of "A New Deal." I even sent my thoughts on the signals that Mr. Immelt needs. That is 100% green in ten years, 50% photovoltaic, 30% wind, 10% geothermal, and 10% wave. It isn't a matter of if we can find the money. We have to. For example, Obama's government plan. I proposed that everyone be given a mulligan on their mortgages, and that they be given money on that, amortized over the future, to green their homes. That the government participate in the savings for what it loses, and then the homeowner, until the debt to the government for the cost, and for medicaire and medicaide, be paid off.

At any rate, my friends and I will be contacting you, unless you want to contact me first. I've already started emailing some people about what we're doing. I think this isn't the end of Green, I think this is the opportunity we've been waiting for. I think the ONLY way to recover fully, and to solve our social ills, is by going to Code Green. Think of it this way, why would people change if everything is flush, what is it that they say in the day the earth stood still? Only at the precipice?

I think Obama should put forth "The Green Deal" and amortize the cost of the program and the savings of it forward over the next thirty years, but that we aim for it to be done in ten years. We then account for updating over the thirty years after that.

Florida would go from bust to boom in six months to a years time. So would the rest of the country follow As for the middle east, they are sitting on the sunshine capital of the world, and oil rigs are pretty ugly. They'll adapt.

Anonymous (not verified)
January 27th 2009, 4:26 pm

I was very excited to read Mr. Friedman's passionate defense of the natural world in "Hot,Flat, and Crowded" - as far as I know, he's the only high-profile non-biologist who has had the courage to say that the ongoing extinction event is as serious a problem as energy security. Bravo! However, the final chapters of the book don't really explain what it will take to achieve the goal of significantly slowing or reversing the ongoing event. A lot of us biologists don't see how it can be mitigated with 6.7 billion aggressive hominids roaming the planet, let alone the 8-9 billion that are projected, and we think there should be some very public worldwide dialog about working to achieve a lower population. However, maybe we're crazy (this is certainly what we've been told). If so, do the math, and show us the pros and cons of solving the problem in Chapter 18. What would we have to do if we don't get our numbers down? What would happen if we did? How can we integrate the world's ecosystems into our economic system?

Zoophilic (not verified)
January 26th 2009, 12:30 am

Mr. Friedman I enjoyed your book very much. I have a degree in geography. Your book reminded me a lot of some of my classes in economic geography, bio-diversity, and human geography. We were aske to support or defend our positions, even if we do not agree with the instructor or author of our geographical material. I do not always agree with you on some things in the book, but I do agree on most ideas that you have or present.

Let me paint a picture for you. One evening my wife and I went out to dinner with some of our friends. Most of them are liberal. I am conservative, but moderate. Anyway, my wife(knowing where this was going) told the group, "Matt does not believe in Global Warming". WOW! you should see the looks I got. She may well of said Matt likes to step on little puppies (for the record I love puppies). I will explain my self further in this article/essay regarding my point of view on global warming. For now I wanted to present some ideas for Chapter 18 that may come from a different angle or point of view. My view is from a moderate conservatives point of view.

The question to ask: What is the best way for the Republican Party to market, re-invent and revitalize itself?

My answer is to keep its basic fundamentals and reinvent new ideas into those basic fundamentals. What do I mean? Take free market economy and entrepreneurship and beat faux environmentalist Al Gore at his own game. I like the message that you present in your book "Hot, Flat and Crowded". First, I believe the idea of Global warming as it is presented on an every day basis is misleading. Global warming may exist but it is debated on how much of the climate change is natural (such as Volcanic methane pockets in the ocean heating up the ocean as well as the Ozone layer hole opening and closing. How much of that is Natural and cyclical in nature. It may take years to know the truth. However the ideas about innovation of an energy systems not source ( they already exist as you pointed out), and petrol dictatorship just to name a couple are platforms the Republicans can and should get on board with. call it Eco-Globalization. No I am not suggesting that these ideas be ran or even subsidized by government (socialism) but capitalistic entrepreneurship. politicians(Republicans, and Independent conservatives do it first), companies, the military and inventors should take on the new green is red white and blue movement and create new energy systems along with not scraping the old ones, but modernizing them and yes even drill in Alaska. Keep all option open. This I believe (energy innovation) will stimulate the economy with new jobs, new products and services and re-energize a new era of the American Dream. Pollution and waste are the problems not global warming. We have screwed up the environment through POLLUTION and WASTE. PERIOD! Let the scientists debate global warming. Let's Fix our energy problems of waste and pollution and lead the American Public and the world through a conservative or Republican innovation to accept that the Going Green movement is not just for granola eating hippies, but it is of concern for our Freedom and National Security. We work way too hard to have our U. S. dollars pay for energy from the Middle East. Buy a car and stimulate your local economy BUT! fill your gas tank and stimulate not only your local economy but the economy of your enemies that are trying to kill you or seriously disrupt your AMERICAN way of life.

I know you know I am paraphrashing some of your ideas presented in the book. My objective is to show how the conservative movement can embrace enviromentalism without feeling like they or we are compromising the party's fundamental values. If the Republican party is going this, they need to market this to show what they doing. Not Sure?

As Science comes out with more sophisticated and more detailed ways of measuring global changes we laymen pretend to understand those quantitaive numbers are measuring global warming as a whole not just temperature changes, methane levels, etc. of specific regions. Thus the media fills in the blanks. We do need to stop polluting our cities and stop wasting our natural resources. Laymans term we all can understand.

To put it another way. You have cancer, Stop smoking or you will die. (laymans term)


mass level increased .07 mm in diameter. end of report.

Thank you for your time. I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas.

Matt M.
Ashburn, VA

Matt (not verified)
January 23rd 2009, 5:45 pm

One thing I missed in your book was more detail about the food system and agriculture. We are eating fossil fuels and antibiotics -- so this issue is not only connected to green, it's connected to health and wellness, too.

I loved your book. i've been thinking for some time that convergence is necessary to get this done and now' you've put it on the table in a big way. much appreciated.


Paula Hendricks (not verified)
January 14th 2009, 6:48 pm

Mr. Friedman,
I have not read all the comments get, and may not get to all of them, but I do want to add my support to Stan Cutler's interest in energy from garbage.
Also, I would like to respond to Tom Benson who states that solar energy needs more maintenance. I can only address my own experience, but we have had a solar water heater for about 25 years and we have not found that to be the case. When we put a new roof on our house, we did have to have someone come and disconnect the panels and reconnect them after the roof installation. I expect we will need a new tank at some point soon, like other conventional water heaters.

Joanie (not verified)
January 14th 2009, 12:15 pm

Hello Mr. Friedman, I would like to propose an intellectual experiment. Look at the bottom what I propose:

Let us think that we will create a business/farm of 1 billion dollars, but the difference it is its prime reason: sustainability. That is, what is produced there, and all its suppliers must be sustainable and not harm the environment. Easy no? Let's say that the product it offers is the Billmilk milk. We will take into account that if it would be fully sustainable, it has a lower yield than the competition. So, the price of your product has a higher price, correct? However, it has a gap that can be easily used by your marketing department: the milk, besides being organic, not destroying the environment. Not good? With the wave (which is really a necessity) of green marketing, this gap will draw the attention of consumers. In short, anything new: a company that cares about the environment and find a new niche to explore. The fact is that if the owner of it is someone like Bill Gates, it may have something extra.

The problem of organic products is simple: the price. You just pay for something sustainable and organic if you have financial resources available. So what to do for these products become more popular?

The answer is: Sustainable Dumping. That is, lowering the price of Billmilk to levels of popular milks. Thus, one could compete as an equal with these companies, leaving the consumer the final choice. On one hand, a company that affect the environment in O% and, on the other hand, the other industrial processes known.

However, there is a problem that arises. If this company, fully sustainable, lowering their prices to compete as an equal with other major companies consolidated, it will have a huge loss, as is likely, selling its product below cost price. Finally this practice will lead it to the bankruptcy.

This is where the catch is and why something did not materialize today. Thinking that the owner of that company is (the altruistic) Bill Gates, he, by thinking of a better future and do not mind a few years of financial losses to their new company, decided to invest every year, for a period of ten years, a billion dollars to cover the negative balance and improve their technology.

With that in mind, we can go back to what that will bring in the milk market. The Billmilk company will compete as an equal with other major brands, and its marketing sector invests in demonstrating how the milk does not destroy the environment. What its competitors can not fight back. So, the sustainable milk becomes the lead of its market share. With affordable prices, upper class, middle class and underclass may consume the same milk. The price will no longer be a problem to do good to Earth. Europe only consume the entire Billmilk. But what happens with other major corporations? They need to adapt, change the technology, sell and act towards the environment, regain the confidence of its consumers. Furthermore, be fully sustainable, since it will no longer be a gap, but a necessity of which the consumer will not accept to run the opposite way.

Finally, we must finalize our Sustainable Dumping, i.e. after start to end the competition and establish a new level of quality, Billmilk not need to raise the price of your product to a level as high as would be in the beginning, because it will have a bigger slice of the market share, and thus may reduce their rate of profit to the detriment of the quantity of consumers, or even though (a more realistic view) raise its price step by step.

I know that this still may not solve the problem of losses of the corporation, but in the second moment of my experience will be necessary to evoke a moment further developed the concept of collective.

At that point, you need a new conception of capitalism. A more collective capitalism. Companies need to redistribute wealth, as a government, i.e. Billmilk, which is sold in high level supermarkets, will have a price 3x compared to the Milkbi (the same Billmilk milk with a more popular appeal of marketing), which will be sold in the popular supermarkets.

In short, this is only an exercise of how the capitalist own practicescan be used for an improvement. I do not want to solve all the problems of capitalism, so that neither entered the substance of the degree of predatory consumerism, just think of how it could change the world with the existing tools and a little altruistic and utopia of a billionaire.


Rafael Salomão - Brazilian

Rafael Salomão (not verified)
January 12th 2009, 11:50 pm

I am close to finishing your outstanding book, one of the best I've ever read! You might have something about this in your last few chapters, but I wanted to ask before I forget. First, what do you think about the garbage to energy ideas at various landfills (such as harvesting/burning the methane gas)? If pollutants can be controlled, is this a good step? Also, how about fusion energy? I know the ITER reactor is experimental, and will take about ten years to show any results, but should this concept be part of your book (or Chapter 18)?
I am a high school teacher in Florida, and thinking about how to use your book with my Principles of Technology (Applied Physics) students. Any ideas? If you came out with a workbook, I would purchase it! If not, I may create one myself! Also, if you have any speaking engagements this year near Orlando, please let me know...I would love to come, and to bring some students with me!
Stan Cutler

Stan Cutler (not verified)
January 12th 2009, 2:23 pm

Mr. Friedman,

I just finished reading Hot, Flat and Crowded. I am inspired and continue with new hope. I think everyone must read this book. On page 399 (chapter 17) you supply this quote from Senator John Kerry: "Real change comes only when people form a movement so large that Washington has no choice but to listen...It's the only way to change the nation." I am probably not the first to do so, but the nevertheless, I hereby urge you, Thomas Friedman, to organize another "I have a dream" get together at the mall. I'll be there, and I know at least another million Americans will be ready to join you as well.

Kareem Massoud (not verified)
January 11th 2009, 8:59 pm

I just finished HFC and highly recommend my husband and three children all read it.

I have an idea for chapter 18 which might have been expressed more or less similarly by other readers. It is to raise awareness of the public about this issue by the volunteering force. The volunteering and public awareness have done many good things in this country far more effectively than the government and have been the force in many areas which US clearly is more advanced than the rest of the world.

To elaborate on it, US is the leader in biomedicine, especially in cancer. I am an oncologist. I know that it was not only we have NIH, NCI with government's money investing in research & development, other resources of funding including, for better or for worse, the pharmaceutical industries putting in money for their even brighter financial futre; more importantly, there are so many advocacy groups for fund raising for cancer research and improvement of care. The latter is so active that we all see very often activities like "walk for breast cancer", or being asked to donate money to Jimmy Fund when we go to a concert or a movie. As a doctor, I receive endless education materials, free jounals and magazines, too many that I am sure no doctor can ever read them all. There are lots of resources for patients as well in terms of getting information or finding support. As a result of all these, both doctors and patients are educated to the cutting edge of new information and US is the leader in the world in cancer treatment.

This unique American spirit of volunteering and community service is something that moves me so much and as I see it from an immigrant's point of view, one of this country's biggist assets of being a superpower in the world. Many things we do in this country won't happen in most other countries. People are so happy and willing to do things for common good not because of any fame-seeking or monetary benefit for themselves but the sense of "doing right things". I am a listener of NPR. When I first became a fan many years ago, I said "Wow!, a non-commercial radio station that is almost completely sponsored by listeners." It is so amazing to me that the listeners could have chosen not to donate but continue to listen, yet because most do choose to do the right thing that NPR thrive and prosper. There are just plenty of examples in this country like this that people are decent and are so willing to do right things for common good. This is one of the biggest resources that we should tap in to tackle difficult problems including the energy issue.

So, I think that right now, compare the energy issue to cancer, there is a very severe lack of awareness and there are many bad habits people have that need to be looked at and changed. I hope that more people will begin to put the volunteering spirit in this area to raise money for research and educating the public. For example, money can be used to produce good and free education materials distributed to the public just as we oncologists receiving tons of free journals. Some will be wasted, but people will read at least some of them and be educated. There are just so many things we can do to raise awareness, which surely will cost money. It is however, very doable in this country. I am sure about that, because of the social network that is already there and the decency of the people in doing right things.

A Taiwanese immigrant

Han-Ting (not verified)
January 9th 2009, 11:31 am

Tom, we really like your energetic words and insightful concepts you zestfully share with us, on the behalf of all of our “futures.” Here are comments from an email I sent to the adult grandkids and family today, 1/7/09:
NanoTech > Ultra Capacitor > Electric Car > Zenn Motor Car Co. > In our Future > Soon?

When a 300 to 400 amp recharging spot is available to you and me, given we have a Zenn "RunAbout" (just a guess) to drive, that "Future" will be then.

I was reading the transcript from the Security Now podcast by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte - Episode #177 last night and this scenario became a very, very real possibility, to me, upon the development of an ultra capacitor using nanotechnology. Lockheed-Martin has an exclusive contract with EEStor, Inc, the developer of this technology, for US Military and aerospace development. To tweak your interest, here is a quote:

"So what happened, (Steve is speaking) what finally brought this to my attention is on Tuesday, December 16th of this year, a few weeks ago, U.S. Patent 7466536 was granted. And as happened with a granted patent, the content of the patent is then put into the public domain. The inventors or their assignees have 17 years of exclusive rights to the intellectual property described in the patent. But part of the idea is - the idea is that other people can build on that. So it's made public. The title of the patent is "Utilization of Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic and Composition-Modified Barium Titanate Powders in a Matrix That Allows Polarization and the Use of Integrated Circuit Technologies for the Production of Lightweight, Ultrahigh Electrical Energy Storage Units." Which is a mouthful." (This is pulled out from about 3/4 through the podcast.)

You can find the podcast at: . You will find some "cutting edge" computer security concepts discussed as well as some beginning computer technology being brought back to life – on a limited scale.

I think I'll send Thomas Friedman a reference to this episode. I'm sure he will find it enlightening as I have.

Love, Grandpa.
PS. The Chapter 18 Project is now a regularly must read for me! Thanks Tom for undertaking such a great project. Bob

PPS: I almost feel like it’s too late for the big 3. I worry about the workers and the many others who are caught up in this mess. Perhaps a 180 degree turnabout might occur, but it doesn’t look very likely. B.

Grandpa Bob (not verified)
January 7th 2009, 11:47 pm

Mr. Freidman, today I am enjoying your book, esp. Chapter 3. I lived overseas in Africa and Asia for 15 years. I think you may be interested in an article I wrote published Nov. 3, '08 (below) on the importance of good urban design, "Be More, not Have More." ps - I am from Minnesota. pss - I borrowed the "cheapest, cleanest, ..." from you. happy new year and best regards, Beth
Tallahassee Democrat
Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
November 3, 2008
'Be more,' not 'have more,' can change the world
Author: Beth C. Hollister
Edition: Tallahassee Democrat
Section: Local Conversation
Page: B1
Estimated printed pages: 3
Article Text:
By Beth C. Hollister
My View

Since 1981, the city of Chattanooga, Tenn., has capitalized on a powerful tool to achieve the community's shared vision and common goals: a public-private urban planning and design studio. As a result, Chattanooga successfully transformed from dirty industrial urban blight to urban delight with world-class cultural attractions and a high-tech innovation economy.

The goals of Tallahassee and Leon County are somewhat different, but just as challenging. Following a two-year, community-based participatory process reviewing our local Comprehensive Plan, five major issues and goals were identified in May 2007.

Collectively, our goals generally describe the need for more mixed-use, compact, urban in-fill with bike-pedestrian-transit friendly, low-impact building and development. Increasing the stock of affordable housing and acceptance of mixed-income blended communities are also a priority, especially when we acknowledge the imminent nexus of affordable housing with shrinking households and an escalating population of very active, but also very low income, seniors.

These new urban forms with low ecological and low carbon footprints are essential for a more sustainable future. In addition to the environmental and health benefits, lower consumption is becoming not only in our economic but also national security best interests. Moreover, well-designed, mixed-use, multi-modal communities have proven results in sustaining property values, in crime prevention strategies, and as destinations for creative classes and innovative economies.

Unfortunately, turning the battleship of the auto-dependent, single-zone suburban sprawl culture in America is a breathtakingly monumental undertaking. Even worse, very high unsustainable patterns of land and other resource consumption are being copied and rapidly spreading across the globe.

The example we provided over many decades is to produce and consume at will; now, unsurprisingly, billions on our finite planet want to do just the same. With 5 percent of world population, the message we sent to our planetary neighbors is that we all should consume five times or, by some accounts, 11 times the global per capita average. In time, Planet Earth will not survive the onslaught.

Thus, we have an urgent cry for setting a good, or just better, example. Let us Be More, not Have More. It could literally change the world.

Miles and miles of empty bike lanes and similarly barren sidewalks should come as no surprise. The relatively low cost of bike-ped infrastructure is meaningless without the mix and density, coupled with appropriate design, details and dimensions, of land-use development and public spaces to support it.

Many wave the flag of new technologies, but those often spin off unintended negative consequences, while efficiency efforts are too little too late. Dangerously, both largely ignore the core consumption issues at the root of the problem.

In addition, while we've made tremendous advances in hybrid, electric and hydrogen vehicles, they still consume transportation infrastructure. How are we going to pay for and maintain an endless supply of it? Moreover, how many of our billions can afford the latest technological advances?

Others still offer suggestions to make public transportation more viable; but first we simply have to get people on their feet, so that they can step up into buses. And in an auto-dependent culture, walking is the anomaly rather than the mainstream activity that it needs to be in order to provide the market demand to help StarMetro increase routes, frequency and transit stops; eliminate subsidies; and in turn, strengthen local government operating revenues.

The goals and challenges are before us, but how to move forward?

Simply put: Just as we know that the cheapest, cleanest, most non-emitting power plant in the world is the one we don't have to build; likewise, the cheapest, cleanest, most non-emitting form of transportation is walking.

Hence the rationale for better site planning and public infrastructure genuinely designed at a human scale for people and for walking, not just for vehicles. Although "urban design" often evokes the highest architectural standards, aesthetically pleasing facades are not the most important essential task and challenge facing us. Urban design that reduces our ecological and carbon footprints is, however, a critical component of our very survival.

Good urban design can help and support governance, preferably in partnership with the business sector, for the common good. Better practices in Tallahassee and Leon County will also demonstrate good global citizenship and resonate worldwide.

Beth C. Hollister, AIA, is an architect and urban development planner, and a member of the City of Tallahassee's Urban Design Commission. Contact her at

Copyright (c) 2008 Tallahassee Democrat
Record Number: tal33908756

BC Hollister (not verified)
January 7th 2009, 10:01 am

Interesting Legislation

Legislature passes commercial energy efficiency legislation

California Political Desk
published September 12, 2007

SACRAMENTO - The California State Assembly passed a measure today that would require that data and scores generated by the Energy Star system must be disclosed when a nonresidential building is put up for sale or lease, or when it is financed or refinanced. The bill goes to the Governor for his signature.

Assembly Member Lori Saldaña, the bill’s author, noted that nonresidential buildings account for nearly 40% of the energy consumed in California. Benchmarking will provide energy consumption information in a form that building owners and operators can use to compare their building's performance to that of similar buildings, and to track their building's energy efficiency over time.

This information will help motivate building managers to make their buildings more energy efficient,” Saldaña said. “It will also help them to establish investment priorities to take advantage of energy investment opportunities offered by utilities and governments.

The Governor’s Green Building Initiative, Executive Order S-20-04, set a goal of reducing energy use in state-owned buildings by 20% by 2015 and encouraged the private commercial sector to set the same goal. The Executive Order also assigned the California Energy Commission to develop and propose a simple building efficiency benchmarking system for all commercial buildings in the state.

While we may require more energy efficiency in new construction, existing buildings typically have a lifespan of at least 50 to 60 years,” Saldaña said. “Efforts aimed specifically at reducing the energy use of existing buildings are an especially important part of California’s energy efficiency efforts.”

In it’s 2005 report: Options for Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings, the California Energy Commission recommended that benchmarking data be made available to nonresidential building owners, and that the resulting information be required to be disclosed during financing and refinancing events.

AB 1103 would require that, by 2009, electric utilities shall provide automated billing information for nonresidential buildings in a format that is compatible for uploading onto the Energy Star system, upon the authorization of the building owner or operator. Beginning in 2010, the benchmarking data and scores generated by the Energy Star system must be disclosed.

It would additionally require that when a nonresidential building is put up for sale or lease, or when it is financed or refinanced the Energy Star system is recognized by the CEC as the most effective available tool for benchmarking

AB 1103 is supported by Environment California and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

New Law Ranks Commercial Buildings by Efficiency

Source:, November 30, 2008

For owners who have been proactive, the information could push a lot of business their way as businesses look for energy efficient buildings that will help them meet their own sustainability goals.

Under AB 1103, beginning this January, electric and gas utilities are required to maintain records of the energy consumption data of all nonresidential buildings to which they provide service and, upon request of an owner, upload those records to a secure online interactive energy management tool maintained by the US Environmental Protection Agency that tracks and assess energy and water consumption. The Energy Star Portfolio Manager allows users to identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance.

One year from January, anyone looking to buy, finance or lease a complete building will be entitled to obtain the building’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager benchmarking data and ratings.

The Energy Star program rates buildings on a scale from 1 to 100 against other buildings within its class. Buildings within the top quartile will be eligible to be recognized as an EPA Energy Star Building and can use the "Energy Star Label" to communicate its energy efficiency to tenants, lenders, and other stakeholders.

"Car dealers are required to disclose a car’s fuel efficiency rating; now in California, sellers and lessees of buildings will be required to disclose the building’s energy efficiency rating," environmental engineer Joe Derhake tells "The data - will provide lenders, buyers, and tenants with a clear and objective tool to measure the energy efficiency of buildings."

Kandy Kidd, a certified LEED professional with the tenant-rep firm Studley who recently had its Silicon Valley, CA office certified as a "Green Business," says the new law will place increasing pressure on the owners of brown buildings to perform green retrofits in order to attract and retain quality tenants.

While the new law does not require a building owner to hand over its ranking to the buyer, financier or lessee of anything less than an entire building, Cleaveland doesn’t expect owners to be too resistant to requests. "In the commercial real estate world, tenants rule," he says. Vrkic believes it’s more likely there could be a discount for less efficient buildings than a premium for the most efficient buildings.

Kavita (not verified)
January 2nd 2009, 2:40 pm