Energy Efficient Buildings Would Reduce Global Warming Pollution, Save Florida Families $590 Annually

Environment Florida Research & Policy Center

Florida families could save $590 every year on their electricity bills by 2030 if the government invests in the energy efficiency of our buildings today, according to a new report by Environment Florida. Saving energy in our buildings would also help Florida’s fight against global warming, reducing global warming pollution from buildings by 35 percent—the equivalent of taking 12.6 million cars off the road or shutting down 15 coal-fired power plants.

“It’s time to build better,” said Environment Florida Director, Aliki Moncrief. “Bold efficiency measures for buildings can cut energy use in our homes and businesses by more than 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 Florida was joined by Maggie Theriot, Director of Leon County’s Office of Resource Stewardship, Suzanne Cook, Executive Director, Florida Green Building Coalition, and Michele Rehwinkel Vasilinda, State Representative, District 9.

Our report, Building a Better America: Reducing Pollution and Saving Money with Efficiency, analyzes the benefits Florida and other states 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 Florida’s buildings 27 percent by 2030.
  • Prevent the emission of 64 million tons of global warming pollution every year by 2030, the equivalent of taking 12.6 million cars off the road.
  • Save the average Florida family of four $590 a year by 2030.

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

“The first and foremost step in energy efficient buildings is conservation,” said Suzanne Cook.  “Before spending money on efficient equipment and renewable energy options, the building envelope and mechanical systems need to be leak-free,” she added.

Environment Florida 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 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. “Zero-net energy buildings like the Leon County Extension office are so efficient that they produce all the energy they need onsite from renewable sources like the sun and geothermal resources,” said Moncrief.  

“Leon County is motivated to be a good steward of our community resources both environmentally and fiscally.  We take pride in converting a 50 year old building into a net-zero energy facility,” said Maggie Theriot, highlighting the building’s 60 kw solar PV array and the 17 tons of geothermal heating and cooling system.

 “Leon County deserves praise for taking the lead on revamping a 1950’s era building into a super-efficient building,” concluded Moncrief. “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.”

Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda concluded, “wasting energy is a vice, energy conservation is a virtue.”