The building sector is responsible for a large share of world electricity consumption and raw materials use. In the United States, buildings—commercial and residential—account for 72 percent of electricity use and 38 percent of CO2 emissions. Worldwide, building construction accounts for 40 percent of materials use. Because buildings last for 50–100 years or longer, it is often assumed that cutting carbon emissions in the building sector is a long-term process. But that is not the case. An energy retrofit of an older inefficient building can cut energy use and energy bills by 20–50 percent. The next step, shifting entirely to …
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Lester R. Brown is founder and president of Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
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