Urban Regeneration, Energy Efficiency and Brownfield Renewal in Europe

Peter B. Meyer, Phd, President of The E.P. Systems Group, Inc,, recently returned from a series of assignments in Europe. He worked on projects supported by the European Union and the United Kingdom and spoke at an international confer3ence on contaminated land in Poland.

Dr. Meyer first spent 10 days working on innovative solutions to scarcity and other problems of an impoverished neighborhood in the Borough of Tower Hamlets in London, UK, The initiative was part of the Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment (SCIBE) project, a trans-european initiative funded by the Humanities in European Research Area program of the EU. Working with a team of practitioners from Brazil, Lebanon, Poland, Russia, and Turkey he helped develop an initiative to broaden participation by women and other under-represented parties in identifying development needs in the heavily Bangladeshi neighborhood of Bromley-by-Bow.

He then participated in the 6th International Conference on Innovative Solutions for Revitalization of Degraded Areas, held in Ustron, Poland. He presented a paper to a predominantly Eastern European audience on “Generating Renewable Energy on Derelict Lands,” arguing that such efforts delivered to both the environmentalists’ dream and the economists’ policy prescriptions.

Finally, he moderated and served as a discussant at the presentation of the Final Report of the project on Suburban Neighborhood Adaptation for a Changing Climate, which he had also served as an adviser. The report, based on research in suburbs across the UK, was received by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government at a public meeting at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London.

The E.P. Systems Group, Inc., continues to develop and draw on examples of economically efficient and environmentally protective economic development in settings across the globe as part of its core mission of correcting the misperception of inherent conflict between economic and environmental objectives.

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A Public Investment Question: If You Build It, Will They Come?

The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area in Alabama is making decisions about whether or not to invest in a 52-mile highway spur that is budgeted at $4.7 Billion. The state and local contribution required to match the federal funds amounts to roughly the entire annual budget of the state’s Department of Transportation. The project was being pushed as a priority for economic development although the road was given a moderate-to-low priority ranking by the local transportation planning body.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, headquartered in Atlanta, and the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies contracted with The E.P. Systems Group, Inc., for the core economic impact analysis and other contributions to a critical analysis of the rationales for the road and assessment of its true economic impact.

The EPSG analysis found that construction person-years of work were claimed as permanent jobs, that the time value of money (and all costs and benefits) was ignored, and that there were more cost-effective alternatives available to address an existing highway transportation need the proposed road did not serve well. Discounting costs and benefits revealed that the present value of the cost per job created exceeded $400,000, even if the fact that the local road construction labor supply could not meet the demands of the project, so both construction and spinoff jobs would not necessarily go to Alabamans.

The full report, written to be understandable by non-economists contains methodological and data analytical appendices and is available on-line here

The executive summary is available here

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EPA’s Contaminated Land Economic Analysis Handbook

In Fall, 2011, the EPA issued a new Handbook providing recommendations for economic analysis of land cleanup and reuse activities and programs. These activities pose significant measurement problems associated with such unique qualities as the diversity of contaminants and affected media across sites, market pricing problems such as stigma, and the impacts of significant events that transpire over the course of a sometimes lengthy time frame.

EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics and its Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response collaborated to produce the new Handbook was both economically rigorous and applicable in the real-world. The peer-reviewed Handbook reviews analytical problems, provides policy planners and evaluators with recommendations for estimating the benefits, costs, and economic impacts of land cleanup and reuse, and then highlights the many unaswered questions remain in the literature.

On June 22, 2012, Peter Meyer, President of the The E.P. Systems Group, Inc., is joining with two of the economists from EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics, Robin Jenkins and Heather Klemick, to present a webinar for practitioners ojn using the Handbook

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Determining Local Economic Impacts of New Investments

In a period of extended unemployment and slow economic growth, many localities and states are struggling to attract new investment in hopes of stimulating their economies.  To help economic development organizations determine where to spend their limited stimulus resources, The E.P. Systems Group offers services to determine the job, payroll, gross income and tax revenue impacts of different types of new business investments.

Businesses seeking public sector support for their new investments can utilize the same analytical capacities to help them demonstrate the value to local economies that they would bring if they located in new settings.

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Finding Financing for Recycling

August, 2011 — The E.P. Systems Group  recently completed work identifying debt financing options for a well-established recycler looking to finance a new product line taking advantage of its raw materials flow and the demand for recycled materials from many in the construction industry.

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EPSG Supports DOE’s Competitive Grant Winners

In addition to providing financial management technical assistance to state and local recipients of  formula grants from the US Department of Energy, E.P. Systems Group staff are supporting several recipients of special competitive DOE grants for creative retrofitting of existing buildings for more energy efficient operations.  We support financial leveraging efforts of both grantees and those of the subgrantees pf state-wide award winners.

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Technical Assistance to EECBG and SEP Grantees

The  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA or the stimulus act) provided funds to states under the State Energy Program (SEP) and directly to localities in the form of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBGs).

The E.P. Systems Group, Inc., is proud to be a member of the Technical Assistance team that will help grantees with managing the financial aspects of their grants to maximize the value they get from their federal dollars.  Will will be advising on innovative approaches to structuring revolving funds, energy efficiency and renewable energy utilities, “Property-Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) programs and other financial and policy matters, drawing not merely on US experiences but also adapting models form other countries to the US context.

Contact us if you are a SEP or EECBG grantee and want technical assistance support.

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What can the UK teach the US about Low Carbon Economics?

The E.P. Systems Group is participating in consultations in England on climate change adaptation by suburbs and by gathering data on the British initiatives with respect to conversion to a lower carbon economy and will be writing up results in the coming months.

Specific initiatives and organizational efforts being examined include:

  • The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and associated ‘carbon budgets’
  • The role of the Carbon Trust as a guide for businesses and other nongovernmental entities
  • The role of taxes, as examined by the Green Fiscal Commission
  • The economic returns to energy efficiency and the job creation potentials of the new energy economy
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Impact Analysis for USCIS EB-5 Program Now Available

EPSG offers a new service for potential Regional Center applicants under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services EB-5 program.  Applicants must show, as part of their application, the ability to create at least 20 local jobs per $ Million of investment and provide the same proof of job creation for each specific project they undertake.  We can help generate the needed evidence.

This service is an extenuation of the Economic Impact Analysis we have accomplished for other clients using the RIMS II data base provided by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Our methodology allows us to calculate income, revenue, and tax impacts as well as employment change. Use of the RIMS II data to support Regional Center applications is significantly more cost-effective than alternative analysis approaches such as IMPLAN.

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Supporting Climate Change Legislative Efforts in the U.S.

The E.P. Systems Group, Inc., launched Climate Change Economics, a comprehensive website of resources and tools dedicated to addressing the carbon intensity of the U.S. economy and related climate change policy in the 50 states and territories on December 11.  We are seeing a growing numbers of visitors and welcoming new site Members.

Climate Change Economics is one part of a project to improve understanding of climate change issues by U.S. legislators in the expectation that understanding will lead to action. We hope to make the site the primary objective research tool for state and federal legislators, as well as regulators and policy analysts, on the economic opportunities presented by the fight against climate change. We’ve been funded specifically to improve the quality of economic analysis by the decision-makers in state legislatures and to expand their understanding of the economic threats posed by climate change as well as the economic opportunities available in investing in mitigation efforts.

The site offers some very basic economic tools and explanations of economic analysis as well as a Legislators’ Tools area. We are particularly striving to make the best research and policy models accessible to citizen legislators across the United States, offering them tools to help dissect the assumptions that can distort research findings.

We shortly will be launching a secure forum for exchanging ideas about legislation, discussing proposed language or standards, and similar discussions. The forum is structured so that all particicipants will be able to remain completely anonymous to others and even exchange private e-mails with other participants one-on-one without divulging identities. with their peers. The anonymity is intended to permit discussion of politically sensitive initiatives, to allow consultation on legislative strategies, and also to enable invididuals who want guidance in economic analysis to request support without feeling as if they are divulging their ignorance to others.

Apart from legislators, we also hope our colleagues throughout the environmental community will find the site’s public Web Resources and Library valuable for their own efforts.

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