Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan: Green construction may create jobs, spark the economy | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan: Green construction may create jobs, spark the economy

Matthew Renda
Sierra Sun
Sun File PhotoThe Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences in Incline Village is one of the few buildings in the basin to have a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification. Economists think a green building movement in Tahoe could help revitalize the economy.
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LAKE TAHOE and#8212; The Lake Tahoe Basin could position itself to be at the forefront of the emerging green building and environmental innovation sectors, economists believe.

Environmental innovation could encompass three segments, said Trish Kelly, of Applied Development Economics: built environment, natural environment and green business operations. Below is a look at what each would mean to Tahoe.

Retrofitting existing homes, offices, hotels and government buildings will create jobs and help contractors and tradespeople who lost jobs once the housing bust began in 2006 and picked up steam later.

and#8220;There is an endless amount of work in retrofitting old buildings,and#8221; said Eli Meyer of the Sierra Green Building Association. and#8220;Primarily, the sector will provide jobs to laborers, who have struggled to find work since the new home market has atrophied.and#8221;

Energy auditors, landscapers, companies that transform recyclable substances into building materials and sustainable lighting specialists are also in the sector, Kelly said.

and#8220;All of these job are place-based,and#8221; Kelly said. and#8220;You can’t export trade jobs outside of the basin.and#8221;

Related businesses like consulting or training firms could appear around the green redevelopment sector, Kelly said.

Large projects such as Boulder Bay, a proposed green redevelopment at the Tahoe Biltmore, could set the standard for similar projects in the basin and beyond, Kelly said. Boulder Bay hopes to introduce higher heating and lighting efficiencies while molding the landscape with an eye toward curtailing runoff.

and#8220;Boulder Bay could be a prototype for an energy-efficient building in an alpine environment,and#8221; Kelly said.

With its population of researchers and scientists, the Lake Tahoe Basin could become a center for environmental research and development, Kelly said.

and#8220;With the scientists working on environmental issues and studying snow, water quality (and) resource management, workers in the basin could create real-world solutions which will be utilized throughout the world,and#8221; she said, adding that smaller local environmental firms, which have been growing steadily over the past decade, are also included.

Cottage industries could gain traction in light of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s recent announcement to outsource many scientific assessment projects.

There is high demand for updated accurate scientific data regarding the vast and diverse basin ecology, Kelly said, which will continue to increase should the basin becomes a center for environmental research.

Another idea is to build an Alpine Research Center to house scientists and researchers that could analyze and track Tahoe’s environment.

Businesses that provide services relating to composting and recycling stand to grow in the near future, according to ADE.

Whether it’s transporting compostable or recyclable materials, providing facilities to house and sort the products or transforming the substances into usable products, there is enormous room for growth and new companies, Kelly said.

Kelly points to preliminary plan to build a biomass plant in the basin as an indication that renewable energy, while nascent at this juncture, could grow in the future and provide job growth, economic vitality and environmental gain.

and#8220;Innovation creates wealth,and#8221; said Kelly. and#8220;It’s not necessary to build a lot of physical environment to house these industries. It’s ideas that translate into products and services. You don’t need a big industrial park and#8212; just good ideas.and#8221;