The US is wasting much of the 40% of energy consumed by buildings through poor insulation, leaky windows, inefficient lighting, heating or cooling systems, and poor construction techniques, says a report from Environment America.
But according to the report, Building a Better Future: Moving Toward Zero Pollution with Highly Efficient Homes and Businesses, a comprehensive plan of building renovation and tough standards for new construction could reduce US emissions by 34% by 2050 and save $542 billion in energy costs.
The US has a major opportunity right now, says the report, because around 75% of existing buildings are scheduled to be renovated or replaced with new ones by 2040.
“Aggressively confronting the building sector is the key to successfully addressing the economy, climate change and energy independence,” says Ed Mazria, executive director of Architecture 2030, who is campaigning for zero-energy buildings by 2030.
The report is calling for local and state officials and the federal government to implement policies to promote energy efficient buildings:
- National standards requiring a 30% improvement in efficiency by 2012 and a 50% improvement by 2018;
- All new buildings zero-energy by 2030 through a mixture of energy efficiency measures and on-site renewables;
- Retrofitting all commercial and residential buildings by the end of 2030.
“We have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with energy efficiency in buildings,” says Rob Sargent of Environment America.
“Bold action to improve the efficiency of our nation’s buildings would go a long way toward meeting America’s energy challenges and stopping global warming. But we must act now.”
For further information:
Blueprint for tackling climate change with energy-efficient buildings (24-Apr 2008)
26 May 2009