Energy Efficient Buildings Would Reduce Global Warming Pollution

Save California Families over $450 Annually

Environment California Research and Policy Center

“It’s time to build better,” said Environment California’s Sean Carroll. “Bold efficiency measures for buildings can cut energy use in our homes and businesses by a quarter by 2030, reducing pollution and saving consumers money.”

Right now, 40 percent of the energy used in America goes to heat, cool, and power our buildings. And because much of this energy comes from dirty and dangerous sources like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power, this accounts for nearly half of global warming pollution in the country.  Furthermore, much of this energy is wasted, flying out of leaky doors and windows.  This high level of energy consumption pumps billions of tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere and costs Americans nearly $400 billion every year.

Environment California’s report, “Building a Better America: Saving Energy and Money with Efficiency,” analyzes the benefits California would see if we committed to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings.  The report uses government data to estimate reduced energy consumption, decreased fossil fuel use, money saved on energy bills, and global warming pollution prevented in 2020 and 2030.

Making our buildings more efficient would:
•    Reduce the projected energy use of California ‘s buildings 25% percent by 2030
•    Prevent the emission of 17.49 million tons of global warming pollution every year by 2030, the equivalent of taking 12.6 million cars off the road.
•    Save the average California family of four $451.64 a year by 2030.

“That’s the best part about making energy efficiency improvements,” said Carroll. “They pay for themselves as consumers enjoy lower energy bills and a cleaner environment year after year.”

Environment California is calling for policies that will help us reach our efficiency goals, including:

•    Steady improvements to building codes over time so that all new buildings are increasingly efficient, culminating in a zero net energy standard by 2030, when new buildings should be so efficient that they can produce all the energy they need on site using renewable energy like wind and solar.
•    Investing in energy retrofits and weatherization to improve the efficiency of existing buildings 30 percent by 2030.
•    Supporting innovative financing mechanisms that will unleash public and private investment in building efficiency.

As documented in this report, successful efficiency programs and incentives at the federal, state, and local level are already paying off, saving consumers money and dramatically reducing energy use.

“Certainly there is a lot of low-hanging fruit on the table with existing energy efficiency technology,” said Brenden McEneaney, Green Building Program Advisor for the City of Santa Monica.  “But the pace of technology change and cost reductions is also encouraging.  The Santa Monica Main Library is a LEED Gold certified building, only a few years old – yet already we are finding cost effective retrofit options to reduce energy use even further.”

“There are already thousands of super-efficient buildings all around the country” concluded Carroll. “Most buildings last for decades, so investing in energy efficiency locks in savings for years to come and builds a strong foundation for the future of our environment and our economy.”