Azara Blog: Surprise, buildings could be made more energy efficient

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Date published: 2008/03/14

The BBC says:

Improving the environmental performance of buildings in North America can cut the region's carbon emissions more than any other measure, a study suggests.

The rapid take-up of current and new technologies could save the equivalent of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by transport in the US, it concluded.

However, it added that developers and homeowners were not willing to pay the extra cost for energy saving measures.

Buildings are responsible for about 35% of the region's man-made CO2 emissions.

The report published by the Commission for Environmental Co-operation (CEC), an international organisation created by Canada, Mexico and the US, said it was possible for the most efficient buildings to consume 70% less energy than conventional properties.

Each year, it said, energy used by buildings in North America resulted in more than 2,200 megatonnes of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.

But it said that it was possible to reduce this by 1,700 megatonnes, compared to a "business as usual" approach, by 2030.
...
The study also highlighted that "retrofitting" - improving the energy performance of existing buildings - was the most important factor when it came to reducing emissions in the region's property sector.

"It has been proven quite easily that new construction can perform much better for a minimal marginal cost, but we won't get anywhere unless we focus on existing buildings," Mr Westeinde said.

Almost three-quarters of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built, research shows.

On the one hand they at least recognise that the big problem is with existing buildings more so than with new buildings (which is not to say that new buildings should not be made energy efficient). On the other hand, if they believe that "homeowners were not willing to pay the extra cost for energy saving measures", then it is clear why they use words like "can" and "could" rather than "will": they don't believe the best-case glossy projection they are making will ever happen. Well, the one thing that will make a difference is if the rise in energy costs continues unabated.

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