A North American organization of energy experts issued a report that found that building more green buildings is the best way to cut carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), one of the major contributors to global warming. In fact, green buildings could cut emissions more deeply, quickly and more cheaply than any other global warming mitigation effort.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was set up by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to address environmental concerns raised over NAFTA. A representative of the CEC told Reuters:
The investments made for climate change benefit in buildings have direct payback, generally from the point of view of reduced energy costs and water costs as well the indoor health environment and increased productivity of the inhabitants of those buildings.
Buildings in North America emit about 2,200 megatons or 35 percent of the total global warming emissions on the continent. If building construction adopted the CEC’s recommendations quickly, that amount could be cut down to 1,700 megatons by 2030 compared to the business-as-usual approach.
So what’s stopping the change? The report found that capital and operating budgets are often kept separate, instead of a government or other institution taking into account the lifetime budget of a construction project. This separation creates a disincentive to build green.
The CEC recommended setting up task forces in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to set targets that will incentivize more green building. According to Science Daily, green building only accounts for 2 percent of the new non-residential building market and less than half of one percent of the residential market in the Canada and U.S., and even less than that in Mexico.
I’m a retired real estate attorney of 20 years and now a Realtor/Owner/Broker. At first I thought that building green was just a fad, but there’s no question that technology has enabled us to build energy efficient, substantially improve the health components of our homes, and avoid polluting our environment to such extents. It’s great. Thanks for your post.
“The report found that capital and operating budgets are often kept separate, instead of a government or other institution taking into account the lifetime budget of a construction project.”
This is a big problem that my company runs into frequently. Albeo Technologies (http://www.albeotech.com) makes LED light fixtures for commercial and industrial applications. Our biggest market application is retrofits of existing fluorescent and HID fixtures in large facilities.
These traditional lighting systems, while relatively efficient, don’t have long lifetimes, so they require constant maintenance. Albeo’s LED fixtures are somewhat more efficient, but more importantly, they last far longer. Therefore, they provide terrific operational savings.
However, they’re also more expensive and the retrofit represents a large capital expenditure for the facility. Because of this, we frequently face the challenge of helping our customers acknowledge the [u]entire[/u] payback picture, including capital and operating expenditures, over several years. Some companies get it, some don’t.