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Carbon Dioxide generated by energy use in buildings could be cut by 30pc; technology already exists; just use European “passive house” building standards

Posted by gmarkets on 3 September, 2007

According to a newly published collection of studies by Harvey and others, the carbon dioxide generated by energy use in buildings – a third of the global total of man-made C02 emissions – could be cut by almost 30 per cent in little more than a decade, reported New Scientist (28/7/2007, p. 9). Technology already exists: The technology to achieve this already exists, in contrast with aviation or power generation, say, where reducing emissions may require significant innovation. What’s more, future energy savings mean most of such spending would pay for itself in three to seven years.

“Passive Houses” in Europe; 65 per cent less emissions per house: To see what a different direction might look like, consider the homes built in recent years to Europe’s “passive house” standard. By carefully sealing all joints, using high-quality insulation and positioning windows to make the most of sunlight, passive houses can be heated using around a tenth as much energy as the average dwelling. “I can usually heat the house using 10 candles,” says Katrin Klingenberg, an architect who built and lives in a passive house in Urbana, Illinois, where winter temperatures regularly drop below -10C. That translates into up to 65 per cent less emissions per house, depending on the energy source.

14 per cent less emissions by 2020: And with 5000 passive houses built every year in Europe, and almost 4000 existing homes being renovated to the same standard each year, emissions savings from those new houses alone will knock 14 per cent off emissions due to the residential sector in 2020 according to a report published last year by a consortium of European building researchers. The savings get even bigger when you include other measures such as replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs and old electric water heaters with more efficient alternatives.

New Scientist, 28/7/2007, p. 9

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