Today's Top-Level Take-Away: "We'll keep the light on for you."
According to Stephen Selkowitz, Head of the Building Technologies Department within the Environmental Energy Division of Lawrence Berkeley Labs (LBL), the annual cost to heat, cool, and light human-occupancy buildings in the United States is US$250,000,000,000 (that's 250-billion, as in one-quarter-trillion, per year), of which it is feasible to save nearly one-half, using currently available technologies.

At a conservative capitalization rate of ten percent, this hundred-billion dollars or so in potential savings would justify an investment of roughly one trillion dollars—which is more than we invest every year in designing and constructing buildings that only serve to increase the dissipation of wasted energy. Recent pilot projects suggest that 3-D modeling may add as little as 0.05% to total project costs, and intelligent 3-D modeling at the preliminary design phase is absolutely essential to energy efficient design.

Now, if Johnny can model a trillion dollars worth of buildings at an incremental cost of 0.05%—or $500,000,000 per year, and the potential energy savings that might accrue from that modeling amount to $100,000,000,000 per year, what is Johnny's return on investment (ROI)? Leaving aside the net present value of future annual savings in the operation of this year's crop of buildings, the first-year ROI benefit looks like 20,000% (one-hundred-billion in savings generated by five-hundred-million in modeling costs is a two-hundred-fold return).

Granted, this is a grossly over-simplified hypothetical example, but even if it were 99.9% wrong, the return is still 20%—likely way better than anything in your 401k retirement account.