Tue, Apr 28, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Green business lobby urges action on building codes


A group including United Technologies Corp and Lafarge SA want governments, starting with the US, to add energy standards to building codes to improve efficiency and cut carbon-dioxide emissions.

Such a requirement is one of several measures outlined in a four-year study released today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a group that consists of about 200 companies. The report used computer simulations to show how energy use in buildings can be reduced by 60 percent by 2050 and meet global climate change targets.

“When you go to get your building permit in the US, you ought to have an energy-efficiency element in getting that permit,” United Technologies chairman George David said in an interview. “To me, that is the most actionable recommendation here: for the Obama administration to call for an organized, national energy business efficiency code.”

The Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies owns Carrier, the world’s biggest provider of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Lafarge, based in Paris, is the world’s biggest cement producer.

Buildings account for 40 percent of the world’s energy use and the resulting emissions are “substantially” more than those from autos, planes and trains, the study said. The report calls for a coordinated global effort that will cut emissions and stimulate economic growth. It recommends tax incentives and subsidies to spur investments.

Commercial buildings in developed countries could be retrofitted with more efficient products and systems that cut down on the energy used for heating and cooling.

“You don’t have to wait a day,” David said. “You can go right now.”

The US$15 million study focused on six markets — Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US — which consume about two-thirds of the world’s energy output. The International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental group founded during the oil crisis of the 1970s, wants buildings to contribute 17 percent of total emission reductions in 2050. That translates into an average 55 percent reduction for buildings in the areas studied, the report said.

The report calls for building designs that integrate daylight and natural ventilation, along with efficient boilers, heat pumps and lights. It also recommends government investment for research and development of new technologies and for educators and professional groups to introduce training and vocational programs.

The report is the most extensive of its kind, the council said.

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