More Songs about Buildings and Blame

Knowing that buildings account for about half of CO2 emissions, what to do? Most buildings live a long time — 50 to 100 years or more. Thus one might assume it’s unrealistic to expect any significant short-term reduction in CO2 emissions could be achieved by making new buildings more energy efficient, simply because there will be so many older, inefficient buildings still hanging around. However, according to analysis done over at Architecture 2030, by 2035 three-quarters of the U.S. building stock will be either new or renovated. So in fact, yes, there is a huge opportunity for efficient building design to impact CO2 emissions in a big way within three decades.

In the Seattle area, population and job growth are higher than the national average, and thus we can expect a correspondingly higher percentage of new and/or renovated buildings — because we’re growing, the opportunity is that much greater. The City of Seattle has a relatively stringent energy code compared to the average U.S. city. But here, stringent might translate to something like a 10% reduction in energy use, when we ought to be pushing hard for reductions of 50% or more.

Allowing a status-quo building to go up is as irresponsible as building new freeway lanes.

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