Climate Change and Buildings
Human-induced climate change is the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced. To mitigate it, we must bring our emissions to net zero by 2050. Buildings represent a massive, unavoidable challenge in responding to climate change. 40% of global emissions are related to our homes, offices, and other indoor spaces. While we can build very efficient new buildings, about 65% of the buildings that will remain in use in 2050 already exist today (source).
The Answer: Deep Retrofits
The majority of a building’s emissions come from heating and cooling. Luckily, making buildings massively more efficient can reduce their energy requirements so much that renewables can fill the remaining gap. To bring its emissions to zero, a building must first undergo a deep retrofit. This involves super-insulating and sealing the walls, and then installing very efficient windows. Once the deep retrofit has reduced the building’s demand for heating and cooling by 80%, the remaining energy can be supplied by renewable sources to bring its overall operating emissions down to net zero.