Need more than just higher performance building code changes to decarbonize

26 February 2020 by Jason Quinn

“In buildings, it has become clear that there are two very distinct problems. One concerns new buildings — where, for example, advanced heat pump technology can allow for electrification of heating systems. The other, much bigger problem is how to cut emissions from existing buildings, which will account for most emissions from this sector. Here the actions are a blend of technology (easier to retrofit efficient heating and air conditioning systems) and regulation since in most countries the big barriers to changing buildings aren’t just cost but also building codes.”

The technology is there for both new and existing buildings and has been for twenty years. Fixing the envelope of the building rather than sticking in the latest heat pump technology would be my advice but for new buildings, it is all about the building code. We need to change it … really.  For existing buildings, we’ll need more than just higher performance building code changes to decarbonize, we’ll need to stick and carrot with fines for high emissions (see NYC Local Law 97) and incentives to retrofit.

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