Energy Efficient Buildings Would Reduce Global Warming Pollution 28 Percent, Save New York Families $488 Annually

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Environment New York Research & Policy Center

If the government invests in the energy efficiency of our buildings today New York families could save over $488 every year on their electricity bills by 2030, according to a new report by Environment New York. Saving energy in our buildings would also help New York’s fight against global warming, reducing global warming pollution from buildings by 28 percent—the equivalent of taking 5.8 million cars off the road or decommissioning 7 coal fired power plants.

“It’s time to build better,” said Environment New York Director, David VanLuven. “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 $4 billion every year.

Our report, Building a Better America: Saving Energy and Money with Efficiency, analyzes the benefits New York 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 New York’s buildings 25 percent by 2030
  • Prevent the emission of 30 million metric tons of global warming pollution every year by 2030 in New York, the equivalent of taking 5.8 million cars off the road.
  • Save the average New York family of four $488 a year by 2030.

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

Environment New York was joined by Bennett Carlin, Senior Engineer with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), to release the report. DASNY President Paul Williams issued a statement on the report saying “The Dormitory Authority has been working with Governor Cuomo to make energy efficiency a priority – and that is reflected in not only the work we do with our construction clients, but also in the improvements we have made at our own facilities. Energy efficiency programs create jobs, cut down on greenhouse gases, and save money for New Yorkers, and we should continue to innovate in a way that creates a sustainable energy future.”

Environment New York 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.

“There are already thousands of super-efficient buildings all around the country,” concluded VanLuven. “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.”