ClearWorld December 2017 - Page 6


for meeting a more demanding target for savings. California is on the verge of adopting a residential energy code that requires near-zero electricity use. Cities are adopting policies for existing buildings that start with requiring transparency about energy use and often continue by creating requirements for retrofit energy savings based on energy audits.

More buildings are being rated and labeled, either with HERS ratings in the case of houses or ENERGY STAR® ratings that look at overall energy use for commercial buildings. Over 2 million U.S. homes have been rated on their energy use, with the number of new ratings growing every year. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency is poised to adopt a specification for energy efficiency programs based on HERS scores. These specifications are used by utilities and other efficiency program operators to achieve consistency in efficiency programs throughout North America.

We are seeing steady progress at recognizing the dollar savings in utility bills that result from energy-saving features as part of lending practices for buildings. This reform allows a buyer to qualify for a mortgage on a somewhat-more-expensive efficient home whenever the monthly payments increase less than the savings in utility bills. Thus if a seller spends $10,000 for energy-related repairs, adding about $50 a month in mortgage costs, but the HERS rating shows $75 a month in bill savings, the extra money could be borrowed even if the buyer barely qualifies at their current income.

The momentum toward energy efficient cities is transcending the harsh political climate in Washington in 2017, occurring primarily at the state and city levels in the U.S., at the level of nonprofit organizations, and in other countries that are the fastest-growing source of climate pollution.

Locally initiated policies for improved building efficiency have always driven the bulk of activity at the national level, both in the U.S. and in countries such as Russia. With the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for the world to pursue action to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees, we see that one of the most important ways to stabilize climate is by fixing existing buildings—both their structure and their operations, and many of the activities in 2017 set up the infrastructure for doing just that.

As would be expected in a year of reduced (but still important) national-scale governmental activities, the progress has been in a variety of areas—both in terms of geography and subject matter. Many states have adopted updated building energy codes to allow the builder greater flexibility in choosing which energy efficiency measures to install in return

2017 Progress Toward

Climate Goals