US Building Emissions are Growing

Green building standards and efficiency retrofits are not keeping up with energy demand, resulting in a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

1 minute read

November 30, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Rows of solar panels on a large rooftop with office or industrial buildings in background.

denboma / Adobe Stock

According to a new study, building emissions in the United States grew by 3 percent between 2010 and 2020, with the number projected to grow barring “significant interventions,” writes Nish Amarnath in Smart Cities Dive. “The study, which builds on an analysis conducted in 2022, assessed historical building emission trends and retrofit rates to pinpoint disparities between current initiatives and measures required to meet climate change goals.”

The report identified barriers to efficiency retrofits including workforce skill shortages, access to funding, and limited public awareness. The report also lists five ‘crucial enablers’ for : “setting net-zero building performance standards, developing a national retrofit plan, providing financial incentives and support, upskilling the workforce and scaling that supply chain, and promoting best practices and data transparency.”

The report points out that the funding allocated to net-zero building standards in the Inflation Reduction Act is not “sufficient to meet the size of the [emissions reduction] challenge.” However, the costs of decarbonization are becoming lower as renewable energy generation becomes more common and affordable.

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