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Jul 8, 2019

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

Efficiency is invisible, yet energy efficiency represents the largest, cheapest and healthiest means of reducing the global temperature increase. Achieving good energy efficiency also results in better occupant comfort, health, and productivity as well as creating jobs and equity.

The United States is one of 190 nations that is committed to pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Even back-of-the-envelope analysis shows that this goal will be impossible to achieve without deep retrofits of almost all buildings. In this podcast David Goldstein explores how this might be accomplished, reviewing several options, given that such a program has never been undertaken at this scale before and inherently requires multiple and simultaneous plans and actions by a wide range of stakeholders.   

David notes the need to take a "whole building" approach to retrofits rather than more common approaches today which emphasize specific widgets or systems. He also emphasizes the need for new methods of approaching building valuation since energy cost savings alone often will not cover the entire cost of renovations. We discuss the need for technical innovation in building construction methods and for electric technologies for supplying heat and hot water to buildings. Finally, we consider the impact of deep retrofits on all buildings to the electricity grid as well as the natural gas system.

We also discuss the pathways to accomplish this goal with the minimal practical cost disruption and transfer payments from program administrators to property owners. The scale of this endeavor- very roughly $3-$4 trillion- would strain the budgets of current and prospective administrators. You’ll hear about a set of paths that, if rapidly implemented, could set us on a practical rather than political approach to meeting the Paris accord.

Follow this link for a copy of David’s slides on this topic from a presentation he gave at the 2019 RESNET conference: RESNET retrofits 2019 02.pdf