Back in January 2010, I said this:  "Government officials and citizens are going to expect results form the significant investments in the green movement (particularly in an election year). In 2010, the nation will begin to decide if investments in the green building and renewable energy industries were worth it."

Not one month later, it appears that media critiques of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act(ARRA) green building programs have begun.  Last Thursday, the Los Angeles Times ran the following headline:  

"Obama’s federal government can weatherize your home for only $57,362 each"

How did the Los Angeles Times come up with this number?  The Times did some very simple math to calculate how much money had been spent per home so far. 

"The Energy folks did tell ABC they’ve so far spent 522-million Recovery Act dollars on the program. So, let’s see, about 9,100 homes divided into that chunk of stimulation change to believe in is — gee! — about $57,362 worth of very expensive weatherstripping for each home fixed up so far."

Of course there is more to the Times’ blog post.  The Energy Department had to resolve Davis-Bacon wage determinations prior to starting the weatherization program.  At the end of the Los Angeles Times post, the Energy Department’s response was included:  

"The GAO report cites figures from September 2009 — almost five months out of date. Since then, we have resolved Davis-Bacon wage issues in all 50 states, clarified how states should handle historic preservation and worked with states to resolve any remaining barriers. As a result, by the end of 2009, our programs had weatherized about 124,000 homes in total, and we are on track to weatherize more than 250,000 this year. In fact, since September 2009, we have tripled the pace of Recovery Act funded home weatherization. The report also erroneously implies that our goal was to weatherize 593,000 homes in 2009. That is wrong. The goal has been to weatherize that number by March 2012, and we are on track to meet that goal."

The Los Angeles Times article suggests the media is going to comprehensively cover the progress and accounting of ARRA green building projects in 2010.  While this Los Angeles Times article may have relied on stale statistics, you can bet that the Department of Energy’s weatherization program, and the contractors taking part in it, will be under additional scrutiny. 

 Related Links   Obama’s federal government can weatherize your home for only $57,362 each (LA Times)   Green Building Industry to Face More Scrutiny (GBLU)