A homebuilder believes energy efficiency is the path to reviving an industry hit hard by the recession.

Rick Westmoreland is the founder of Retrofit Exchange. Westmoreland has high hopes for the pilot program being launched by the University of Central Missouri to expand the demand for energy efficiency in residential housing and create news jobs in the construction industry.

“Honestly, I epitomize what’s happened to the housing industry. My day job is I’m a homebuilder. Quite honestly, I haven’t worked much during the day for the last couple of years,” Westmoreland tells the Missourinet. “But what I hope will happen is we can reengage the housing industry into doing some form of construction and maybe re-employ the 2.2 million dislocated housing industry workers across the country.”

The University of Central Missouri received a $190,000 grant to work on energy efficiency in both the metro Kansas City area and the more rural setting around the campus in Warrensburg. The goal is to encourage energy efficiency upgrades at the time of sale in hopes that a new segment of the construction industry would be encouraged to grow. The university is working with several groups in a public-private sponsorship.

Westmoreland says the residential sector is a tougher nut to crack than the commercial sector.

“The residential construction industry is a fragmented industry, always has been. Kind of a cowboy mentality,” Westmoreland says. “Small contractors, small suppliers and really aren’t networked together like the commercial construction industry is.”

Westmoreland says studies indicate that 130 million homes across the country would be candidates for retrofitting. He calculates that a modest $10,000 investment in each of those homes would create a $1.3 trillion industry.

AUDIO: Homebuilder Rick Westmoreland [:25 MP3]

AUDIO: Westmoreland [:15 MP3]