Taking the Carbon Emissions Out of Buildings

Much of the focus on decreasing carbon emissions is on the electrical grid and vehicles. But, buildings are a huge contributor, and California is leading the way in making electrification a priority.

1 minute read

February 19, 2019, 12:00 PM PST

By Camille Fink

Kaiser LEED Certified Building

Ted Eytan / Flickr

David Roberts writes about California’s Building Decarbonization Coalition and its report on the challenges in shifting buildings from fossil fuels to electricity. With 40 percent of global and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings, a push for decarbonization is essential, says Roberts.

The report says that new buildings should be designed so they do not rely on fossil fuels and that the state should adopt zero-emissions building codes for both residential and commercial buildings. The real hurdles, however, lie with the large number of existing buildings, particularly in convincing building owners, contractors, and policymakers about the merits of electrification.

The report also argues that electrification technology needs to be available on a larger scale to bring down costs. In addition, standards and policies should better support building decarbonization, and coordination among stakeholders is important. "The problem is that decision makers in the building sector are highly distributed. Owners, contractors, utilities, regulators, local officials, and state legislators all have some say in how buildings are built and run," notes Roberts.

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