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Posts Tagged ‘government regulation of green building’

“Things are not getting better. In fact, they are actually getting worse. From 1990 to 1999, global carbon dioxide emissions increased at a rate of 1.1% per year. Then everyone started talking about Kyoto, so we buckled up our belts, got serious, and we showed ’em what we could do: In the years 2000 to 2006, we TRIPLED the rate of global carbon dioxide emission increases, to an average increase of over 3 percent a year! That’ll show ’em we mean business! Hey, look what we can do when we’re serious–we can emit even more carbon faster.” (Nate Lewis, California Institute of Technology, quoted (page 214) in “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas L. Friedman)

“Hot, Flat, and Crowded” is the book to read, if you want a deep look into everything that is driving the increase in global energy use and carbon emission. Not a pretty picture, and the choices involve–oh my God!–using less energy, not more. Mostly by being smarter in how we go about it.

Don’t expect your governments to be much help, as long as their decisions are driven by industry lobbyists instead of common sense. Let’s hope Copenhagen’s success doesn’t match Kyoto’s.

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Why Green? Why Now?

Sometimes it may seem that everywhere you look in the media–now more than ever before–there is some reference to “eco-consciousness” and “green building”. “Global warming” seems to be on everyone’s mind. Rising energy costs hit us all in the pocketbook last year. All of it is news, but the real news, while not as compelling, was made in Sacramento with the passage of “AB32” in 2006. This legislation, the first of its kind in the US, targeted emission reductions from greenhouse gas sources via regulations, market mechanisms and other actions.

The specifics of regulation, at least concerning building and development policies, are best left in the hands of local governments, and local governments all over the Bay Area are taking action. From San Rafael to San Jose, fifteen cities and counties have adopted building policies mandating energy- and resource-efficient design for new construction. More local jurisdictions are jumping on board all the time. Pacifica is considering its own green building ordinance right now, with a goal of formal adoption by late summer 2009.

Keep in mind, “green” is a very big word in this context. It is overused and misused to the point that its true value as a concept has become blurred. BuildItGreen.org, one of the main proponents of this “new” idea, sets out five principles, all of which must be incorporated into residential building design. Energy-efficiency and resource management are two everyone knows. Water conservation is a big issue, but so are healthy homes (indoor air quality), and each homes place in a well-designed community. Taken all together, these principles incorporated into our housing concepts today, will help make a better world for tomorrow.

This column is the first of a series that will help explain “Green Building”, and show how greener, healthier homes can be built or remodeled using simple principles and basic materials, at little or no extra cost.

© 2009 David Hirzel

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