Washington Energy Summit -- An International Policy Event 2011
2011 Summit Powering Cities of the Future -- Sustainable Energy Solutions for the World's Varied Communities, September 27 & 28, 2011
spacer grey line
spacer HOME nav line
s nav lines s
spacer 2011 SUMMIT
> Program
> Speakers
> Venue
> Sponsorship
> FAQs

s nav lines s
spacer 2010 SUMMIT s
s nav lines s
spacer 2009 SUMMIT s

2011 Summit


NAVIGATE: 2011 Summit | The Washington Times Section | A view from Siemens Building infrastructure builds jobs | Download PDF

spacerA view from Siemens Building infrastructure builds jobs

By Daryl Dulaney

We can reduce travel times by better monitoring and adjusting traffic signal timing.cities today are battling many challenges. Growing unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure, finite water supplies, congestion and shrinking budgets continue to plague some of America’s biggest and most populated urban centers.

Experts predict that by 2050 some 6.2 billion people will live in cities worldwide – nearly as many as our current total worldwide population.

Today, 84 percent of United States residents already live in metropolitan areas, and that number will expand steadily. Cities will be forced to accommodate a huge influx of people – many more than their aging infrastructure was built to support.

But there’s good news here too. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, 366 metropolitan areas in the country produce 85 percent of U.S. exports. The study found that “the economic future for states hinges largely on the performance of their metropolitan economies, which bring together the innovative firms, educated workers, and critical infrastructure that will propel the next wave of U.S. economic growth.”

In short, we need to focus on our cities, and take another look at the importance of developing a strong, functioning, sustainable infrastructure to help turn cities – and our economies – around.

As a company that has helped many countries around the world further their development, we have seen the importance of a strong infrastructure to a region’s ability to maintain economic growth.

And history bears this out as well, with an indisputable correlation between public infrastructure investment and economic growth. Between 1950 and 1979, public investments in core areas — transportation, water management, and electricity transmission — grew at an average annual rate of 4.0 percent. Overall economic growth (GDP) averaged 4.1 percent per year over that same period.

And between 1980 and 2007, public investment growth slowed dramatically, to an average 2.3 percent. GDP growth also fell in this more recent period, to a 2.9 percent average annual rate.

We’ve seen this ourselves: building infrastructure creates jobs.

General upgrades to water and traffic solutions, as well as building updates, will not only help cities better meet today’s population demands but also foster job creation in several hard-hit industries today.

According to a recent Department of Treasury report, 80 percent of jobs created by investing in infrastructure will likely be created in three occupations – construction, manufacturing and retail trade – which are among the hardest hit from the recession.

In Atlanta, for example, there are some immediate areas for infrastructure improvement. Let’s look at traffic. We have found that we can reduce travel and wait times dramatically, just by better monitoring and adjusting traffic signal timing. When you improve travel times, you increase productivity, reduce waste and improve efficiencies for everyone.

One initial test of a control system for five intersections in metro-Atlanta, showed a decrease in morning rush hour travel time of an up to 32 percent, and an afternoon rush hour travel time reduction of 14 percent.

There were also substantial reductions in vehicle delays and stops which reduced fuel consumption and, importantly, emissions.

And then there’s the issue of water, or lack of it in Atlanta’s case. As we know, droughts affect agriculture and industry, key drivers of jobs in Georgia. But there are already many solutions being used in the country today that could be considered for Atlanta’s dire water situation.

For example, some water recycling and purification technologies are being used very successfully in Orange County California right now, helping them produce millions of additional gallons of high-quality water for regularly drought-threatened areas.

It’s true that many of these solutions cost money. City officials have said that the city of Atlanta needs $922 million alone to update and repair its transportation infrastructure. However, there are several cost-effective solutions which are possible, and more appropriate than ever, given today’s economic situation.

By simply incorporating some new, efficient building technologies, we can help lower lighting costs by up to 80 percent and overall energy consumption by up to 50 percent.

But do people realize that such retrofit investments can sometimes be made with little or no capital investment from cities? These investments can often be fully paid for within 10 years as a result of savings in energy consumption.

Municipalities can benefit from such savings through “performance contracting” which guarantees increased energy efficiency through the performance of new equipment upgrades.

When tied to energy rates that are based on historical increases, these upgrades can yield direct savings that can then be applied to pay back the financing of the upgrade.

Performance contracting can be a very attractive way to improve a city’s energy efficiency and upgrade its infrastructure to accommodate a rapidly growing population, even though the municipality is challenged by a tight budget.

The technology is here. The workers are here. And now the financing is here too. What are we waiting for?

Daryl Dulaney is President and CEO of Siemens Industry, Inc.


© 2011 Washington Energy Summit
Facebook Twitter Global Energy Network Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center NECSC REEEP WADE