As the hours tick down to the People’s Climate March this weekend, cities and private business are already forging ahead on climate action, upping the tempo and intensity each year. From deploying available technology more widely to innovating to push the boundaries of existing solutions, there are opportunities in front of us to make our cities more vibrant, productive, healthy, and resilient. Yet in most cities, one of the biggest solution remains mostly untapped.
The Problem with Buildings
When you look at a coal-fired power plant billowing smoke or a highway packed with cars with exhausts fuming into the air, it is easy to actually see the pollution being emitted. However, when it comes to city skylines, it is difficult to visualize the vast quantities of fuel, water, and electricity used to keep our lights, heat, air-conditioning, and computers running. How our buildings use resources is a largely invisible—but pervasive—threat to our environment, health, and resiliency.
Powering our buildings accounts for 40 percent of all U.S. energy use and generating this energy and water produces harmful pollutants. As a result, buildings are also responsible for almost as great a portion of CO2 emissions—in some cities, buildings produce over 70 percent of carbon emissions.
Building energy use has major economic ramifications as well, costing Americans more than $400 billion a year. Much of this energy and water is wasted due to inefficient building design and operations. In addition to the severe effects on the environment, this leads to unnecessarily high utility bills, missed opportunities for job creation and economic development, and diminished quality of life.
Read more (Huffington Post)