PennEnvironment report calls for energy-efficient buildingsTim Stuhldreher
Pennsylvania and the U.S. as a whole can cut energy use in buildings by nearly a quarter by 2030 by adopting new technology and more stringent building codes, PennEnvironment said in a report this week.
That would decrease global warming pollution from the nation's building stock by 30 percent, the Harrisburg-based environmental group said. Residential electric bills could drop by 34 percent, saving homeowners $450 a year on average, PennEnvironment said.
By 2030, construction codes should require new buildings to use 75 percent less energy than today's comparable buildings, the report recommended. The ultimate goal should be "zero net energy buildings" that produce as much energy as they consume, it said.
Pennsylvania would use 85 million fewer gallons of heating oil a year by 2030 if it adopted the recommendations, the group said.
The report's energy-reduction goals are achievable, but not its zero net energy building proposal, said J.D. Stauffer of Vision Homebuilders, a Pennsylvania Builders Association member firm based in Bloomsburg.
Buildings are getting more energy efficient, he said. Codes already require 20 percent more efficiency than they did a decade ago, and Energy Star houses are 20 percent better than that, he said.
However, zero net energy requires installation of expensive solar or wind systems, he said.
"The only way to do it is to spend tons of money," he said.
On its own, without government underwriting, the investment never pays off, he said.