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California targets buildings for GHG reduction

Calling for the next frontier of energy planning and policy, the California Energy Commission approved the 2018 Integrated Energy Policy Report. The report highlights California’s past successes but focuses attention on how a state with nearly 40 million people will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2018, renewable energy provided about 34 percent of the electricity used to serve the state. While significant progress has been made, there is more work to be done, especially in light of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. It found Californians must prepare for a future punctuated by severe wildfires, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

The policy report highlights the need to decarbonize buildings and double energy efficiency savings.

In California, building GHG emissions are second only to transportation, when accounting for electricity use, water use, and wastewater treatment. The focus over the past decade has been on advancing zero-net-energy buildings, and this must pivot to zero-emission buildings as the state mobilizes to meet its 2030 and 2050 climate goals. This change from zero-net energy to zero-emission buildings focuses squarely on reducing GHG emissions from the entire building, including from the use of electricity, natural gas, other fuels, as well as cooling systems that typically use highly potent GHGs.

2018 Integrated Energy Policy Report

The Energy Commission also approved key investments to encourage emerging technologies to help food processing plants work toward a low-carbon future. More than a dozen projects received grant funds in Central Valley towns, such as Kingsburg, Woodland, Livingston and Tulare. The projects will reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production.



Past experiences have demonstrated that energy saving efforts cost 2 to 3 times less than building equivalent new (extra) energy sources and even more so when environmental costs are fully considered.

Builders and operators are often reluctant to invest a few dollars more to reduce pollution, GHGs and energy consumption.

Governments have to find acceptable ways and/or upgrade building codes with higher construction standards to make a difference. More research could/should be done to ensure that windows/doors are better insulated to reduce energy used for HVAC and/or equipped to capture solar energy.

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