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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Make the Building Sector More Energy Efficient

Buildings account for 40 percent of global energy use, according to a recent report for the Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) project by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The EEB project, which began in 2006, focuses on six world regions: Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the U.S. The six world regions represent nearly two-thirds of the world's energy use. The estimated growth in all six EEB is 76 percent. 

The International Energy Agency calls for buildings globally to contribute 17 percent of emissions reductions below business-as-usual (BAU) by 2050. The U.S. will need to be at least 80 percent below BAU by 2050 to meet the goal. The report suggests six ways the building sector can take action to reduce its energy use:

  • Strengthen codes and labeling for increased transparency
  • Incentivize energy-efficient investments
  • Encourage integrated design approaches and innovations
  • Develop and use advanced technology to enable energy-saving
  • behaviors
  • Develop workforce capacity for energy saving

Cutting energy in the retail sector will help the U.S. meet the IEA's goal. The report lists recommendations, including the following:

  • Audit the energy performance of retail buildings
  • Enforce building codes
  • Introduce subsidies for achieving high performance in buildings
  • Regulate to phase out low performing buildings
  • Get retailers to participate in energy awareness campaigns
  • Use R&D to lower first cost and increase energy savings
  • Introduce process incentives for developers so they will adopt integrated design approaches which achieve high energy efficiency
  • Promote onsite renewable generation for all new retail developments
The sheer number of shopping malls in the U.S. means energy use needs to be cut in that sector. The report recommends the following:

  • Smart metering will make stores in the mall aware of their energy use and motivate them to take action
  • Install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to replace some electricity from the grid
  • Make changes to lighting inside and outside the mall
  • Improve the cooling and ventilation systems
  • Shade external glass

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