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Commercial buildings could use a weatherization stimulus, too.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
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  • Jun 6, 2022

The U.S. government put nearly $4 billion into its decades-old Weatherization Assistance Program, which aims to help low-income families retrofit their homes to make it more energy-efficient. In the early days of the program, this might mean replacing drafty windows and adding better insulation. Today, it means replacing light bulbs, old appliances and swapping out gas-powered heat pumps. 

With its current purse, the program will aim to serve 700,000 households, reducing emissions by a reported 2.65 metric tons per year. This is an important and critical program, but it might serve the country's climate goals to also stimulate a commercial building weatherization program as well, with a focus on comprehensive retrofitting. 

Understandably, there might be a hesitancy among taxpayers to finance the weatherization of a private business that should be doing the work on its own; however, commercial buildings are major players in the country's emissions and energy use, and tackling efficiency in the commercial sector could pay off major dividends. Commerical buildings consume 35% of the energy consumed in the U.S. and contribute 16% of the country's carbon emissions. They consume more energy than all of Canada and, on top of all that, 30% of energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. 

A recent paper out of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says comprehensive retrofits of commercial building could cut their energy use by 40%. The U.S. Dept. of Energy has a Commercial Buildings Integration program aimed specifically at this type of work in the private sector. Perhaps it, too, would benefit from a few billion dollars. In fact, I think the country as a whole, and its climate goals, would benefit. 


Maggie Mowrer's picture
Maggie Mowrer on Jun 8, 2022

Would it not be better to just require a certain level of energy efficiency in buildings? That way it wouldn't be a taxpayer problem and the government could get income from fines for not complying.

Christopher Neely's picture
Thank Christopher for the Post!
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