Upgrade America

21st Century

Upgrade for America

The greatest economic expansion since WWII post war boom, using government loan guarantees to attract massive quantities of private capital into a simple vehicle for rapid action upgrade to American built infrastructure, energy, transport systems.


3 Million new jobs,

140 billion+ in additional tax revenue,

1st year 6.4% GDP growth (conservative estimate),

4% over 5 years average,

10 % cut to GHG (with more after testing begins),

Unemployment down below 3%,

Greater currency circulation

Year 1 (Building focused)


    (in Billions)

 Bill contents passed through Congress

National building code, with penalties, and hold on sale/rental based on energy efficiency levels( R-25?) for building envelopes and (R-6?) for windows,, as well as energy usage meters on cords of devices, phase in 2022, which is also the payout year on the lend loss insurance. National recycling standards bill, requiring 2 weekly pick up, and 90% material reusability for electronics and most consumer goods.  


25 Training program –

{Treasury} Goal: Turn out 2 million qualified energy installers/upgraders Priority for recent  fossil fuel employees

100 Lend-loss program

Government promises 100 billion in lend-loss funds to insure the change over market in year 1, which they will approve a 10-1 leveraging, meaning 1 Trillion max for no money down, and makes the investments triple A.

{Public sales} Lend loss fund for 1 Trillion(assuming a very conservative 10% fail rate) on  (30% of real estate value in low interest in gov backed conservation bonds for efficiency(up to 50% deal size), generation (20%)(either on building or shares in local community energy generation where on building does not make sense) , cosmetic(max 30%), including some  redesigns that encourage recycling

25       Energy and public infrastructure research increase

100     Infrastructure fund out to states- mostly for existing systems, allocated by population

Outputs (in B$$)

1000 Retrofits and upgrades–

10 Million buildings being upgraded, building material sales, labor

+140 Revenue increase

Assumes a very low Income tax collection of 14% on the trillion spent


This plan is building focused- while buildings are said to account for 40% of ghg’s, farmers aside, people don’t use electricity in fields or forests, they use it in buildings. So addressing energy supply at the building level will begin the process, and by putting energy efficiency measures in place, electricity generation needs will drop.  Buildings are also simpler than transportation, and upgrading homes, buildings may be controversial about when, but generally a crowd pleaser. The transportation upgrades, will require additional technologies, and land appropriations so to do at scale will require  

While this program template is based on a national model, similar models could work for state and city governments as guarantors, as long as building codes get passed.  Obviously real estate values would change rather than income tax collected would be the source of government revenue.


Overall synopsis:


Darrell Prince, Jon Rynn, Ph.D. and Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.

copyright 2017

More than four years after the U.S. economy entered a nominal recovery, unemployment and underemployment in 2014 in much of the country remains at recession levels. During these years, Hurricane Sandy and an epidemic of droughts, floods, and tornadoes have devastated much of the country, reminding everyone about the rising sea levels and extreme weather events being caused by climate change.  Both of these crises—economic and environmental—have a common solution that is politically and financially feasible.  In this paper, we outline a policy that can achieve this solution.  It offers the single best program for any political leader wanting to deliver on campaign promises of providing economic relief to the middle class and poor, while investing in a sustainable future.

The Green New Deal we discuss involves a unique partnership between the public and private sectors and features a bold program of investment in energy efficiency.  The main form of this investment would be refurbishing single family homes, for state of the art energy efficiency and energy generation.  Such housing stock is currently the most energy inefficient of all housing, and thus “low hanging fruit” for any effort to reduce private energy costs and the nation’s carbon footprint while simultaneously creating millions of new jobs.

What currently prevents such investment from occurring on a large scale?  According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (2013), financial institutions have ample funds to loan for such purposes and the economies that can be realized from such investment are indisputable.  “By far the greatest obstacle identified by [lenders],” they write, “is a lack of customers actively seeking financing for energy efficiency investments.” This sounds like lack of a good old-fashioned, Madison Avenue demand generation marketing and advertising campaign, as well as a “tin men” style of door to door sales.  The remainder of this paper discusses a public policy innovation that can greatly increase consumer demand for energy efficiency investment and open a vast flow of private capital, earmarked for such improvements to homeowners, creating millions of productive jobs and revitalizing American manufacturing.


The Green New Deal we envision involves two parts:


  1. A national energy efficiency building code standard, and clean energy generation  requirement.  set in place for 5 years hence, and
  2. The issuing of a $100 billion in loan guarantees that would absorb private capital and approve that as a 10-1 leveraging as insurance issued.

Making a conservative estimate of twice the current fail rate of such deals of 5%, a 10% coverage means such a program covers a trillion dollars in investment deals of this type.

Assuming the US is able to capture 14% of this revenue back as taxes, interest rates on the bonds are easily covered by $140 billion in extra tax receipts.   

Moreover, the number of buildings (100 million) in the US, means that conversion market will need 7 trillion minimum before all is said and done, which will have a 10-12 year payback on energy savings—a lot of financing, on simple deals.

With this much money flowing that way; large scale demand generation, and product companies will develop quickly to take advantage of such a large emerging market; and big capital will move from plodding antagonist bent on protecting existing cash flows on fossil fuels to enthusiasts seeking to move into low-risk high volume plays, that will also yield several high risk, high reward new technology plays.

Rather than  just traditional bond markets; the bonds themselves would be targeted towards traditional commercial banks, with these bonds being eligible as “reserve capital”, thus ensuring buy-in from large institutions, though a disproportionate number would be earmarked for smaller banks. The bond sale would serve as “buzz” for the deals themselves. It’s also a huge PR boost to banks, headlines that read ”Wall Street saves the World,” is a little different than their current pariah status for most Americans.

The private financing would make ultra low interest home improvement loans intended to retrofit housing for energy efficiency, energy generation and remodeling.  The program should be designed to require a bare minimum of paperwork from homeowners and very small increase in monthly costs.  Once the improvements are made, the loan can be repaid out of the savings resulting from lower costs for fuel and electricity.

This funding system uses public policy to create incentives for private lending by increasing consumer demand for investments in energy efficiency.  The citizens earn interest on bonds, more stable reserves from customers, as well as high volume of low risk deals, the homeowners undertake the investment and realize long term cost savings as well as measurable status upgrades to their homes, and the US  reaps the positive externalities of large scale job creation and a greatly reduced carbon footprint.  

The job creation would occur through a multiplier effect—homeowners would employ contractors and their workers, who would purchase materials from local businesses, which in turn will need to be manufactured, spurring job growth in manufacturing as discussed by Rynn (2010).  The program embodies the principle of “subsidiarity,” namely the use of government in a way that empowers, rather than pre-empts, action in the private sector (D’Agostino 2012).



American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. 2013. Engaging Small to Mid-Sized Lenders, Executive Summary.


D’Agostino, Brian. 2012.  The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger).


Rynn, Jon. 2010. Manufacturing Green Prosperity: the Power to Rebuild the American Middle Class. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger).


American Upgrade Methodology Section

GDP growth- 6.4% added


1 trillion total approved leveraged capital for Upgrade systems

150 billion in Federal spending

(training program+ infrastructure program+ additional public research)    


20 billion in additional private R&D revenue

10 Billion in monetary currency bonus (for more money going into lower and middle class)

US GDP 2016 of 18.57 trillion

19.84/18.57 -1= 6.4%

3.5% over 5 years average,


While this is admittedly guess work- additional volumes of work  is expected as the industry ramps into full production, allowing it to take on an additional 20% volume Also, we would expect that by year 2 the transportation overhaul will begin in earnest, itself a multi trillion dollar affair   


Steps, by department                       



Public address to the nation:

Aim for 10% reduction in energy usage by simply asking

Ask the country to shut off extra lights, people and businesses(downtown DC is a good example as is the earth at night)


D of Ed

Audit national high schools- make sure there is funding for, and widespread shop classes in high schools, add energy generation and conservation unit to curricula, preferably on a Knewton type system, which will expose teachers to advanced teaching tools.

(also helps to address a mechanical skills deficit in our youth)


Coordinate the stipend/ scholarship agreements with land grant colleges, and together with DOEnergy and energy accrediting agencies, develop curriculum for energy efficiency/HVAC/alternative energy generation



Establish at tap water testing as a right for renters/residents, and require that fracking chemicals be publicly disclosed, and begin studies of wastewater sites, develop test criteria for agrobusiness sites for GHG emissions, regulate trash as a pollutant, and require composting and twice weekly recycling pickup. Look to regulate methane as a pollutant.



Test agrobusiness for GHG emissions and look for longer-term emissions cuts



Financing for multifamily unit efficiency upgrades does not count towards debt maximums, energy audits mandatory, as is environmental testing (air and at tap water testing), once a year for failing standard every 5 for passing it.


Fannie Mae

require efficiency audit, and minimum 50% alternative energy purchase for funding (local or from provider) On all new deals, require an upgrade to new standard within 2 years.


Federal Reserve/Treasury

mechanism for distributing green bond sales, and allow bond sales to count as reserves up to ? % of total value


Additionally, while the green bond program is excellent for providing people with investment alternatives, and provides Wall Street with impetus to push these programs, in truth, the easiest way to fund this would be a “temporary monetary expansion” meaning the Federal Reserve makes all of those loans (through proxies) and as they are paid back the money is taken out of circulation. It is the same mechanism as QE, but fixed term.


Opinions from the Fed regarding this should probably be issued


ACEEE+ DOE+ Energy Star??

Create energy standards for national building code, (min r-20 for walls and r-8 for windows)

and audit type – projections for cost savings over 10 year span. Recyclability standard research for consumer electronics and lifetime measurement.



Focus funding on retrofit research for buildings, vehicles and gas stations(start with military base?), equity funding on for municipal bio gas systems, on cord energy metrics system for new appliances, recyclables sorters, build large accelerators, and plan on loan portfolio being a 50% loss- progress is risk

3 year delay on DOE developed technologies going overseas

Sketch out national recycling program(Commerce?)

Create template national building code and costing estimates for min  50% reduction GHG emissions per capita




Pass recyclability 90% standard, and minimum average life for consumer electronics sold in the US 70% or so and 3 year minimum average lifetime, and a national building code.


Pass Bond issue.




Sean Kidney, CEO, Climate Bonds International

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