UN Climate Conference Agreement Will Impact Energy Efficiency of Buildings

The agreement from the U.N. Climate Conference will dramatically impact the energy efficiency of buildings in the U.S. becoming standard operating procedure for new construction and making deep retrofits worth the time and effort.

According to the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, there are approximately 6 million commercial buildings in the U.S., comprising 87.4 billion square feet. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of its energy consumption at a cost of more than a trillion dollars of wasted energy.

PIMA President Jared Blum, serving also as vice chair of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, led a delegation of renewable and energy-efficiency business leaders to the COP21 meeting in Paris. Blum and the other leaders participated in briefing sessions given by the U.S. negotiating team, as well as in workshops as technology and policy experts.

“COP21 has indeed resulted in an unprecedented operating commitment to reduce CO2 emissions for the 196 countries attending,” says Blum. “Coupled with the recently passed Clean Power Plan here in the U.S., we expect to see building designers and scientists reevaluating how to get existing buildings to perform.”

Blum participated in the COP 21 in a number of different ways:

  • Provided the opening statement, the Intervention, at the Plenary Technical Working Group for Governmental Delegates.
  • Held meetings with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and a U.S. Senate delegation offering business input to the conference leaders.
  • Participated in a panel discussion with representatives of the wind industry and other efficiency advocates.

“Of real difference this year is the shift in the attitude of the business community towards this effort. The prices of solar- and wind-energy technologies have fallen dramatically, energy storage R&D is making significant progress, and energy-efficiency practices and policies have definitively demonstrated that economic growth can be separated from energy use,” adds Blum. “I believe that realization was one of the reasons this conference was a success.”