Is Green a National Security Issue?

Before I became a magazine guy, I was a newspaper guy. More precisely, I was a wire-service guy. My official title was Newsman. Seriously. Before that, I was in journalism school and the bartending industry. (TMI, I know. But there is a point here.) Journalism, at its root, is about public affairs. Good reporters have a nose for uncovering issues that impact the public good.

One of my favorite questions at the end of any interview was and is: “Did I miss anything?” I love that question. It has uncovered much. It is simple, but for some reason, people really spill their guts for that one. I am not sure why.

So as I wrapped up an interview with Michael Klement, AIA, for our story about the LEED Platinum certified remodel that graces the cover of this magazine, I asked him the question: Did I miss anything? And sure enough Michael’s answer was something I never expected. And yes, it touched on public affairs.

“Being a part of remodeling is important for no other reason than national security,” Klement offered nonchalantly.

“The DOE (Department of Energy) is suggesting that up to half of the existing homes in the United States have no insulation whatsoever. And the Brookings Institution is estimating that up to 75 percent of the homes that we will be occupying in the middle of this century already exist. We have a huge legacy of homes that we are going to have to do something with because our energy consumption patterns are not sustainable. This goes beyond politics. If we want to talk about national security there is nothing more patriotic than remodeling a home and improving its energy performance. That is what is going to bring our boys home.”

Talk about going to work every day with a purposeful step in your stride.

Klement really cut to the chase with that one. And most of the argument, on further review, is compelling. The linkage goes like this. There are 130 million existing homes in the United States. And if the estimate by the Brookings Institution is true, that 75 percent of these homes will still be occupied in 2050, remodelers and contractors can do a lot by simply caulking and adding insulation or swapping in better windows. These actions can amount to a 40 percent reduction in home’s energy consumption. In the aggregate, the commensurate reduction in our use of fossil fuels from foreign countries is large. Relying less on foreign oil would potentially reduce our security commitments in other countries. I attribute the last part of Klement’s otherwise excellent logic — fewer soldiers overseas — to rhetorical flourish. Good debaters always want to finish strong. As a former member of the bartending industry, I am familiar with high levels of rhetorical flourish.

Seriously, many kudos go out to green leaders like Michael Klement and his general contracting partner Doug Selby of Meadowlark Builders for seeing the bigger potential of each successful green project they complete. There is a bigger picture to green. It is compelling. For us, however, green means business. In this age when people are searching for ways to reduce their costs of homeownership, weatherization modifications make financial sense.

So, here is my question for you: Did I miss anything? Register your thoughts on our blog: or ping me at