energy efficiency, sustainability, green buildings, solar, hybrid cars and alternate fuels.

"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan

7.09.2009

GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTIONS AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMS

While the G8 Summit convenes to discuss climate change, hundreds of coal-fired power plants are on the drawing boards in the US. An estimated 76% of the energy produced by these plants will go to operate buildings, according to the group Architecture 2030.

This group formed to challenge the architecture and building community to adopt a much more ambitious target that what the G8 is discussing: to reduce the demand for energy, slow the rate of growth of greenhouse gas emissions, then reverse the rate of growth over the next ten years to keep global warming und
er one degree centigrade (°C). The Challenge includes targets for new buildings and renovations, calling for a performance standard of 50% below the regional (or country) average energy consumption, including greenhuse gas emissions and to ultimately be carbon neutral by 2030. That means using no fossil fuel that emits greenhouse gas.

A chart of the 2030 Challenge Targets by building type is here.
Architecture 2030 believes that these targets can be accomplished by implementing 'innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits.'

Meanwhile, the Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force (ZNEB) in Massachussets, as a part of its goal to achieve a zero net energy building sector by 2030, is proposing the creation of a mortgage buy-down program. The program is part of its two-year nine million jobs investment plan.
The mortgage buy-down program would finance energy retrofits without increasing the mortgage payments. It would include incentives for local minicipalities that pursue energy reduction targets.


Nationally, NPR reported that the federally funded (US Department of
Energy) weatherization program that provides energy savings improvement to low income families (insulation, weatherstriping, improvements to heating systems, replacement windows, etc.) through local, community-based organizations has not been able to quickly expand the program.

Local program operators were required to rewrite their funding plans to incorporate the new dollars from the stimulus bill. The well-intentioned incorporation of the federal Davis-Bacon Act (passed in 1931) that requires contractors to pay the prevailing wage for construction workers has increased delays. The skills needed to perform weather
ization are not highly skilled trades jobs for which the Davis-Bacon is targeted. Plans are underway to amend this requirement.

Weatherization program average improvements of $6500 per household. These improvements lower energy bills for those who can least afford high utility costs. It also creates jobs for individuals often left unemployed
because of the national down-turn in the building economy.

Local weatherization programs include Capital Area Community Action and Tallahassee Urban League. For more information on Florida's weatherization programs, is at Weatherization Works.

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