Buildings Pivotal to Next Industrial Revolution: Economist/Activist

Buildings Pivotal to Next Industrial Revolution: Economist/Activist

European Union adopts long-term plan for transition

Imagine every home, office and factory in the world becoming a green, micro-power plant whose energy is managed and shared with others through an energy Internet that spans continents.

  Jeremy Rifkin

It’s a pillar of the new and sustainable economy envisioned by American economist, political adviser, activist and author Jeremy Rifkin. And it’s gaining traction as the European Union (EU) commits to implementing a long-term plan, developed by Rifkin, that includes converting the existing 191 million buildings on the continent to produce solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy.

Converting and creating buildings to be green energy generators is one piece of the infrastructure supporting what Rifkin calls the “Third Industrial Revolution.” This vision, illustrated in his latest book, The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, The Economy, and The World, merges renewable energy and Internet technology. It’s a transition from the current “carbon era” of heavy dependence on fossil fuels which has led to global economic and environmental challenges.

In a YouTube video of his appearance on TVO, Rifkin says “it is really down to the wire now” to address climate change, with about 30 years left to “be off carbon” and “have any chance of stabilizing this planet.”

He says the past two industrial revolutions in human history stemmed from the emergence of a new energy regime managed by a massive change in communications. This provides a roadmap for the future, as evolving Internet technology — just as it now shares mass amounts of information online — can manage the renewable energy produced by hundreds of millions of people through their green buildings.


This paradigm shift will also provide economic benefits, Rifkin says, with thousands of new businesses and millions of jobs created. He says the building conversions in the EU will jumpstart the economy there.

Gord Hicks, president of Brookfield Johnson Controls based in Markham, Ontario, says Rifkin's ideas offer solutions for Canadian buildings, and is encouraging employees of the real-estate management services company to watch and share the YouTube video.

Striving to inspire and implement restorative practices in its operations and across the real-estate industry, Brookfield Johnson Controls says team members have an opportunity to help drive change that could have a far-reaching effect on society at large.

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Lisa Bailey

Lisa Bailey came to Axiom News with reporting and editing experience at newspapers across southern Ontario. She has enjoyed a new approach to journalism based in appreciative inquiry and asking catalytic questions, and the variety of interviewing people from sectors as different as long-term care and engineering.

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