Homes and buildings are where we use a lot of our energy. In fact, buildings account for about 40% of all U.S. energy consumption and a similar proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these structures will be in use for decades, so reducing their energy use will not only ensure long-term cost savings for homeowners and businesses, but also must be a central component of any meaningful climate strategy. Additionally, retrofitting existing buildings and upgrading new construction has the potential to create millions of good-paying jobs, particularly in construction, engineering, and manufacturing.
When energy efficiency is built in from the start, homeowners and businesses can realize cost savings and environmental benefits over the entire, decades-long life of buildings.
There is no single answer. We have so many different types of homes and buildings – new and old, large and small, urban and rural – that we need a diverse toolbox of solutions to acheive broad efficiency gains. Federal policy can and should play a key role, including through:
- Energy-saving building energy codes and appliance and equipment standards that ensure minimum efficiency performance for new homes, buildings, and products such as air conditioners, water heaters, and refrigerators.
- Strong tax incentives that encourage home and building owners to overcome first-cost barriers for investing in efficient upgrades and equipment
- Weatherization assistance funding that helps low-income homeowners, who spend a larger portion of their incomes on utility bills, permanently lower costs
- Bold investments in broadband, advanced metering infrastructure, and grid modernization to pave the way for a smarter grid that enables Active Efficiency
- Aggressive job training programs to fill shortages of trained workers in construction and other trades, aimed specifically at people of color and other underrepresented communities
- Robust investments in research, development, and deployment that move cutting-edge technologies from the lab to the market faster
- Strong federal leadership, including expanding the use of public-private partnerships such as Energy Savings Performance Contracting to improve the efficiency of government facilities and increased funding for programs such as ENERGY STAR and the Better Buildings initiative that help drive efficiency into the market