Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: Report Finds that Existing Technologies Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Buildings by 25% by 2050

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: Report Finds that Existing Technologies Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Buildings by 25% by 2050

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law

Cullen Howe   By J. Cullen Howe, Environmental Law Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

On May 16, 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report that found that greenhouse gas emissions from residential, commercial and public buildings, which currently account for about one-third of total energy consumption worldwide, could be reduced by 25% by 2050 by using energy-efficient technologies like solar heating and thermal storage.

The report, entitled Technology Roadmap-Energy-Efficient Buildings: Heating and Cooling Equipment, found that solar thermal, heat pumps, thermal energy storage, and combined heat and power (CHP) for buildings could reduce GHG emissions by about 2 gigatons by 2050.  The IEA stated that these energy savings could be achieved quickly because these technologies exist today and heating and cooling equipment is normally replaced more frequently than buildings themselves.  Heat pumps, active solar thermal and CHP can all be installed in almost all building types to provide space and water heating.  The report calls for policy action to overcome market barriers to deployment of this technology.

Residential Solar Heating System

For example, the report found that $3.5 billion is needed in additional annual investment by 2030 to boost technology research, development, and demonstration.  In addition, the report says that more robust metrics are needed to analyze the energy and GHG savings of these technologies and their life-cycle financial benefits.

Reprinted with permission from Green Building Law Update Service.

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J. Cullen Howe is an environmental law specialist at Arnold & Porter LLP. Much of Cullen's work focuses on climate change, where he attempts to educate lawyers and the public at large on the enormous cooperation necessary to adequately address this problem. In addition to his work on climate change, Cullen is the managing editor of Environmental Law in New York, edits the Environmental Law Practice Guide, Brownfields Law and Practice, the Environmental Impact Review in New York, and has drafted chapters in the Environmental Law Practice Guide on climate change and green building. Mr. Howe is a graduate of Vermont Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vermont Law Review, and a graduate of DePauw University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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