Public/Private Cooperation for Sustainable Solutions

Jan 10, 2012 9:00 AM ET

From the Inside

Posted by: Dan Probst, Energy and Sustainability Services, Jones Lang LaSalle

[A longer version of this post can be seen at “From the Inside,” the blog hosted by Commercial Property Executive]

2011 stood out as a year when government and business organizations explored their shared goals on sustainability and realized that public-private partnerships and collaborative initiatives are frequently the most effective way to foster sustainable development. Many of these joint efforts will start to bear fruit in 2012.

One example is the Better Buildings Challenge, the public-private partnership component of President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative. The federal government has committed $2 billion to spur energy retrofits in building, and sixty private-sector organizations will spend an estimated $2 billion to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent in buildings totaling 1.5 billion square feet. Jones Lang LaSalle has committed to work with owners to improve buildings totaling 98 million square feet over the next eight years.

The Better Buildings Challenges is designed to spur private-sector investment in energy efficiency to save $40 billion in cost to business and government annually, and to create up to 300,000 jobs. A similar focus on public-private cooperation can be seen in efforts from the World Economic Forum, Greenprint Foundation and others seeking to create a more viable market for energy retrofit financing.

Public-private cooperation drives many successful energy and sustainability initiatives.  U.S. states and European countries increase their installed base of renewable energy installations by offering incentives that make solar power cost-effective. Airports and other public-sector entities often have surplus land that’s perfect for private-sector development as large solar or wind energy installations. In these and other examples, government and business have shared goals in reducing cost and fostering economic growth, and the two sides need each other to achieve their goals.