Last week, President Obama outlined the new Cash for Caulkers program.
While the obligatory partisan punches were not unexpected, most folks seem to be pretty supportive of any program that helps us use our energy more efficiently, and of course, that saves consumers a couple of bucks on their energy bills.
For our readers, this is nothing new.
We've been singing the praises of energy efficiency for years. Especially as it relates to green building. Because let's face it: Not only is the green building industry good for the economy, it's also good for our portfolio. And I'll tell you about a few of the stocks we like in this industry in just a moment.
But first, let's just recap a few important green building figures.
According to a 2009 green jobs study from Booz Allen Hamilton and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), green construction spending currently supports more than 2 million U.S. jobs and generates more than $100 million in GDP and wages.
The report also found that green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 billion into the U.S. economy — including $396 billion in wages — from 2009 to 2013.
Not a bad window for those seeking to profit from the early stages of green building momentum.
Of course, opportunities in green building can be found in more than one place.
There's the most obvious, power generation. And for buildings — especially those in regions with strong solar resources — solar's potential remains solid.
Going forward, we believe the best stocks in solar are still with those manufacturers that retain a significant cost advantage. And these are almost all Chinese players.
In 2010, we remain bullish on Suntech Power (NYSE: STP), Yingli (NYSE: YGE), JA Solar (NASDAQ: JASO), Canadian Solar (NASDAQ: CSIQ), and First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR). The latter has recently picked up some negative publicity due to its exposure to the German market. But overall, First Solar's cost advantage continues and its utility-scale future remains bright. I would caution against underestimating First Solar's potential in 2010.
There's also energy efficiency and conservation.
While there are certainly opportunities here for companies developing energy efficient windows (and of course, the insulation manufacturers), the more pure play efficiency and conservation opportunities continue to be in demand response.
And then there's lighting, which accounts for 11 percent of the energy use in residential buildings and 26 percent of the energy use in commercial buildings. This is a huge opportunity.
Cree (NASDAQ: CREE) has long been a favorite for LED investors. And for good reason... The company maintains a significant leadership position in the market, and guidance remains solid.
We also like a small, below-the-radar stock called Energy Focus, Inc. (NASDAQ: EFOI). It may not get as much attention as Cree, but the company has some solid partnerships with the U.S. government. We believe this will continue to help the company land some very important — and very profitable — government contracts.
Another Piece of a Very Profitable Puzzle
Aside from energy, green building also boasts sustainability features such as water reclamation systems, environmentally-friendly paints, coatings and sealants, and sustainable building materials. Even eco-friendly flooring gets a nice boost from green building momentum. Interface, Inc. (NASDAQ: IFSIA) is a company that will continue to take advantage of this opportunity with its environmentally-friendlier modular carpet designs.
As a side note, Interface has long been a champion of sustainability, even boasting a goal of achieving a zero environmental footprint by 2020.
My point is this: the Cash for Caulkers program supports just one more piece of a very profitable puzzle for Green Chip investors.
And you better believe we're going to continue to profit every step of the way.