Friday, April 29, 2011

What steps are being made to make buildings GREEN

        In  2008, U.S. buildings accounted for 8% of the total share of global primary energy consumption and 40% of the U.S. total. Buildings use energy for a number of different needs but a large portion of the energy consumed is for heating and cooling. Increasingly, financial incentives at all levels of government are looking to retrofit and redesign buildings to be more energy-effiecent. Below is a breakdown by the U.S. Department of Energy of the consumption patterns for residential and commercial buildings.

        Energy prices have fluctuated over the last few years but they have been consistently going in one direction, up. The concern over the stability of the energy markets has led federal, state, and local governments to invest in programs that target energy efficient building construction and design. Recently, the White House has released a new report that aims to address the barriers that exist for implementing cost saving measures and steps that can be made to address them.
        One of the programs that has received a significant amount of support is the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing model. It was started in Minnesota in 2010 and to date has 26 participating states (Figure 2). Many people want to retrofit their buildings to make them more energy-efficent, but they don't want to pay a great deal of money for something that they won't see benefit from if they move out. The PACE model provides loans to building owners to retrofit their property but the repayment of the loan is done through an added payment attached to the property taxes on a building. In this way the cost of the improvements are tied to the property and not the individual. 

       A recent cost-benefit analysis by a PACE advocacy group found that once the program realized economies of scale it could be a net savings for the government. The savings would come from an estimated 20,000 increased jobs and the reduced energy production needs that are partially subsidized by the government.
       Finally, cutting edge technology tools by MIT as well as ESRI are making the analysis of the potential cost saving measures that a building could employ much faster. The discussion below by the Green Building Council outlines steps that are being taken and provides a GIS platform to show what retrofit programs various buildings throughout the country are implementing. It is also meant to be used as a financial resource to track the reduction in energy consumption of buildings. 

1 comment:

  1. PACE loans appear to be a great way to encourage building owners to install energy saving technology in their buildings. Unfortunately, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has a problem with the lien structure. "Under most of these programs, such loans acquire a priority lien over existing mortgages... First liens established by PACE loans are unlike routine tax assessments and pose unusual and difficult risk management challenges for lenders... FHFA urged state and local governments to reconsider these programs and continues to call for a pause in such programs"
    Does anyone know if Minnesota has suspended its PACE programs?