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Energy codes and climate change

Energy consumption by sectorThe built environment accounts for roughly 40% of energy use in the United States, and as a result the building sector is a major contributor to carbon emissions and global climate change.

By improving building performance with energy efficiency measures, energy codes provide an immediate strategy to address this global crisis. Due to the longevity of buildings, energy codes also offer a strategy that will continue to mitigate total emissions for decades to come. For the same reason, renovating existing buildings is equally important as making sure new construction is built to the most recent standards.

EIA estimates that residential and commercial buildings consumed 40% of energy in the United States in 2014.

Residential Sector Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Commercial Sector Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Addressing emissions from buildings

climate changeWithout a change from business-as-usual trends, greenhouse gas emissions from the buildings sector will continue to increase with global population growth. Additionally, if warming continues, energy use in warm weather months will increase as homes and businesses respond to rising temperatures. Areas already suffering from air quality problems will see an increase in health impacts. It is essential to decouple population growth from environmental impacts, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through energy efficiency in our buildings.

To respond to this challenge, building professionals have made great strides to improve the efficiency of buildings. Some modern buildings are being built far beyond code; a small percentage are designed to net zero energy (NZE) standards, producing as much energy as they consume. Although these buildings provide a roadmap for sustainability, they represent a tiny fraction of all new and remodeled buildings. Even as these strides are made, the bulk of buildings worldwide fail to meet minimum standards of energy performance. To achieve major energy savings across the building stock – and reduce CO2 emissions in a meaningful way – minimum building energy efficiency standards must be implemented as widely as possible.

 

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This page was last modified on: January 26, 2017