As shown in Levy’s U.S. Energy Consumption table 82% of all our energy is coming from non-renewable resources. Broken down, 37% of our energy comes from oil, 24% from natural gas, and 21% from coal. These are all highly polluting resources that are finite and dangerous. We all know about how expensive and difficult it can be to try to change over from these forms of energy. However due to the improvements in renewable energy from the 2009 stimulus package and the success of certain projects, I believe there is hope for our future energy production.
As shown by the pictures above, I feel that potential has been all around us in plain sight. It would take only around 0.3 per cent of the world’s land area to supply all of our electricity needs via solar power. The answer is not to produce these expensive solar farms or crazy energy plants, but rather to use the current infrastructure and retrofit it. Cities are already trying to top their buildings with solar panels, and right here at Rutgers we’ve put them in the Livingston parking lots. In addition the solar industry creates 200 to 400 jobs in research, development, manufacturing and installation for every 10 megawatts of solar power generated annually. So not only are we helping the earth, we are also creating a whole new industry that can thrive on these new technologies.
As planners, I think we should take the time to educate ourselves in green planning. As the informative voice in many communities and municipalities, it is important to have a working knowledge of create a sustainable area. This will allow a planner to push the LEED program in communities that may have been previously wasteful or energy inefficient. If the people of the community become better educated about the health and economic benefits of designing their area to LEED standards, I would imagine that they would be more likely to accept green proposals which in turn could lead to more and more areas following suit.