Energy Efficient Retrofits Crucial For Buildings

Retrofitting existing buildings with energy efficient technology should be the focus of the Copenhagen climate summit in order to drastically reduce emissions and create new jobs, according to the authors of a new book on property retrofits around the world - "Retrofitting Office Buildings to be Green and Energy-Efficient".

This new guide to sustainable building renovation was co-authored by Leanne Tobias, founder of Malachite LLC - a leading green real estate consultancy - and her colleage George Vavaroutos. Tobias says: "The existing real estate sector is typically overlooked at the climate change table. That stance neglects the UN's own findings on the best ways to fight global warming."

In their book, Tobias and Vavaroutsos refer to the UN's own data showing that building upgrades are among the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Having over 80 studies on buildings and energy use to base their elements on, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have determined that cost-effective energy efficiency measures in buildings could reduce building emissions by 30% against the emissions estimate for 2020. This would eliminate around 3.2 gigatons of CO2 - or a 7 to 10% reduction for global emissions on what is expected in 2020.

Improving building insulation, using energy efficient heating and cooling systems and energy efficient lighting, as well as reducing plug load through energy efficient appliances are all fundamental improvements that need to be implemented in buildings. These energy efficiency retrofits are also recommended by the Energy Saving Association (ESA). Mark Sinden BSc (Hons) MCMI FInstSMM AIIB, Council Member for the Energy Association believes; "Reducing the impact of buildings' activity on the world with regard to climate change can be easy and cost effective, if readily-available energy efficiency technology is put to use. It is the best way to go about reducing emissions, while saving money."

"These strategies rely on proven and easily-applied technologies, which, if used, would create jobs rapidly," claims Vavaroutsos.
The book describes the use of building retrofits worldwide, including China, Australia, the EU, Canada and the U.S. Many of those installations provided a return of investment within less than 1 year, and almost all did within less than 5 years.

"Our research shows that retrofitting buildings results in energy and water conservation, the creation of jobs, and better financial results for owners and investors," says Tobias. "The Copenhagen Summit should take steps to incorporate property upgrades into the global carbon trading system".

The UNs' Sustainable Building & Construction Initiative promotes the revision of the world's carbon trading framework to encourage increased participation by the property sector. Their recommendations include developing national policies and standards for building energy efficiency ; developing common baselines and building benchmarks for carbon trading; and instituting the use of performance indicators, such as energy use per square foot or square meter for ongoing monitoring and verification.

Wednesday 16th December 2009

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