The construction industry is one of the biggest global polluters — accounting for a possible 40 percent of global carbon pollution — so finding solutions to make practices more sustainable is crucial in the fight to stop temperatures rising worldwide.
Positive findings in a study published in the journal One Earth, summarized by EurekaAlert, have revealed that it is possible to cut building emissions by 91 percent while saving $100 billion in energy-related costs by 2050.
A computational model analyzed possible future building energy use in the United States, and it found that focusing on how power is drawn from the grid can lead to significant cost savings and a serious reduction in emissions from 2005’s peak.
Utilizing low-carbon energy sources, such as electric heat pumps and smart thermostats, is key to this.
“Meeting the U.S. 2050 net-zero emissions target requires a rapid and cost-effective low-carbon transition across the entire energy system,” said energy technology experts from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who led the study, per EurekaAlert.
While it is possible to reach these lofty predictions, it’s said an “aggressive” level of intervention is needed to do so.
“Realizing this level of change in the building sector will require a rapid and sustained increase in investment alongside policy and regulatory support,” the study’s authors said.
It all sounds promising, but the United States might have to make significant changes to make it happen.
“Hopefully the U.S. can escape its recent political dysfunction and get back to leading the world in areas like emission reduction, particularly after this year’s climate records and calamities highlight the need to do so,” a Reddit user commented on the findings.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the construction industry’s energy-related carbon pollution in 2021 was up 5 percent on 2020 levels. As it stands, the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction believes the sector is not on track to reach ambitious goals for decarbonization by 2050.
“The buildings sector represents 40 percent of Europe’s energy demand, 80 percent of it from fossil fuels,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme. “This makes the sector an area for immediate action, investment, and policies to promote short and long-term energy security.”
But the research from the team at Lawrence Berkeley has shown a clear pathway to making important changes. Hopefully the construction industry and national governments will take notice and implement the steps necessary to make a truly transformative shift in reducing planet-warming climate pollution.
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