With all eyes and ears on Copenhagen right now, you may have missed out on some notable developments — and one setback — in the world of home energy efficiency.

As reported by MNN earlier today, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg shelved a bold CO2-reducing plan that would require the owners of about 22,000 of the Big Apple’s older buildings to submit to energy audits and then perform eco upgrades including sealing leaky windows, replacing light builds, and fixing inefficient boilers.

The problem? Although the city’s environmental community backed the mandate, building owners, who would be responsible for footing most of the bills for energy-efficiency improvements, deemed the plan too financially prohibitive to tackle during a recession. However, Bloomberg plans to move ahead with a less costly (and probably less effective) version of the plan that would only require energy audits.

Now on to the better news ...

The in-the-works cash for caulkers incentive program — a home weatherization spin-off of cash for clunkers — that I blogged about last month, was officially proposed by President Obama earlier today according to CNN Money. The official proposal is the result of two separate economy- and environment-benefiting proposals submitted to Obama by venture capitalist John Doeer and former president Bill Clinton. And although the nitty gritty details of the plan aren’t yet available, it’s estimated that homeowners will be eligible for up to $12,000 in rebates for performing energy-saving home upgrades.

In addition to money reserved for homeowners who undertake efficiency projects (including buying/installing new appliances, windows, doors, and insulation), business that provide renewable energy and efficiency services will also benefit.

Obama explains the benefits of the proposal:

… energy efficiency creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment. With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs.
Excellent. I’m glad to see that this program is taking shape and hope that the fine-tuning of it goes well.

And some similar good news from across the pond: late last week, it was announced that plan to lay the foundation of a smart grid by replacing conventional electricity meters with “smart meters” in all UK homes by 2020 has been given the go-ahead by the British government. According to The Independent, energy companies will be responsible for installing an estimated 47 million smart meters although there are concerns among consumer groups that homeowners will be left to deal with the financial brunt of the ultimately money-saving new technology.

Says Energy and Climate Change Minister, Lord Hunt, of the plan that was first revealed in May:

A global climate deal in Copenhagen needs all countries to make the most ambitious commitments possible, but it will also require all of us to change how we lead our lives and how we generate our energy. Smart meters will put the power in people's hands, enabling us all to control how much energy we use, cut emissions and cut bills.
What are your thoughts on these ambitious new plans that are ultimately designed (despite the need for some ironing out) to benefit your pocketbook and create thousands of news jobs in the green sector? 

Via [CNN Money], [The Independent]

Photo: AP/Pat Sullivan 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Energy savings at home and abroad
Despite a setback in NYC, the cash for caulkers program receives Obama's seal of approval and smart meters get the government green light in the UK.