The key to carbon savings

By LeAnne Harvey

Posted October 24, 2018

We’re already seeing the consequences of climate change in Philadelphia.

So far this year, we’ve experienced another hotter than average summer, seen 40% more rain when compared to our region’s “normal”, and helped our southern neighbors as they endured Hurricanes Florence and Michael.


To avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change -- think 15-foot sea level rise and global climate refugee migration -- the science is clear on how quickly we have to act. We have a little more than a decade to ramp up programs, policies, technologies, and investments in cutting global carbon emissions by 2030.


We know that putting a price on carbon is the only way to achieve the deep carbon reductions necessary for avoiding the worst. But that takes federal action on a global scale. Under the current administration, we also know that isn’t going to happen.

So what’s our small region of the world supposed to do?  

Thanks to the work of our active climate community and the city’s Office of Sustainability (OOS), we have a pretty good idea. This fall, OOS released Powering Our Future: A Clean Energy Vision for Philadelphia. The report is a roadmap for how the City of Philadelphia can meet its goal to reduce citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2050.


From data analysis and modeling, we learn that while every ounce of progress matters on the road to achieving necessary carbon reductions, buildings are the primary driver of climate change in our region, and by far the best opportunity to mitigate and to adapt to future and current climate impacts.


We need to electrify our home heating methods, our transportation systems, and everything in between. At the same time, we will have to clean our electric grid with renewable energy technologies and reduce our industrial process emissions. But the foundation for any strategy for lowering carbon emissions is to first save wasted energy through energy efficiency.


Maximizing energy efficiency in our homes and businesses has the potential to get Philadelphia 35% of the way to our climate goal. On a global scale, energy efficiency provides the opportunity to get 40% of the way to the targets of the Paris Agreement. Energy efficiency is not only a critical step to meeting regional and global climate commitments, but it also brings the added co-benefits of improving building occupant health and comfort and lowering operating costs.


And with the announcement of a $2 million grant from the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, we’re more prepared than ever to take on the challenge. Locally and nationally, we’re under-investing in energy efficiency, but this funding gives Philadelphia the opportunity to expand the city’s energy efficiency programs and policies.


At Green Building United, we’re committed to making sure our buildings are sustainable, healthy for inhabitants, resilient, and cost-effective. We achieve our vision through our education, policy and advocacy, and strategic initiatives such as the Philadelphia 2030 District, Energy Benchmarking, Energy Code Implementation, and Climate Resilient Communities.


We’re more excited than ever to take on the challenge.

Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

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