Alaskans should invest in energy like Warren Buffett 

Shaina Kilcoyne | Fairbanks Daily News Miner Community Perspective:  American billionaire Warren Buffett earned his wealth by focusing on the long-term value of his investments rather than the short-term pricing of stocks. There is an easy way Alaskans too, can make same smart, long-term investment decisions that made Mr. Buffett successful: energy efficiency. While it’s not as “sexy” as a shiny new wind turbine or gas pipeline, energy efficiency can deliver a stronger return on investment than the stock market, often times paying for itself in just a few short years. Alaska has a goal to increase energy efficiency 15 percent per capita by 2020; however, to get there, great strides must be made. As construction booms across the state, I encourage developers to help us reach that goal by channeling their inner Buffett and thinking of energy efficiency as a solid long-term investment for Alaska.

When considering energy efficiency upgrades, many building owners are reluctant to take on the additional up-front costs associated with these retrofits. While high-efficiency light bulbs, appliances and insulation can increase construction costs by 1 percent to 2 percent, the long-term payoffs are very real. When looking at the cost of a building over 40 years, experts have determined only 11 percent of a building’s lifecycle costs were associated with construction, while 50 percent came from operation and maintenance — including utilities. Knowing this, why not invest a little more upfront to reduce your building’s utility costs in the future?

Some building owners are taking this to heart. In 2012, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium completed construction on its new Healthy Communities Building in Anchorage, receiving LEED Silver certification for the extensive efficiency measures implemented there. By using advanced lighting systems, occupancy sensors and a well-insulated building envelope, ANTHC will see a substantial drop in its utility bills. Realistically, this building could be standing in 100 years, making the upfront investment in efficiency small compared to the long-term savings it will accrue.

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