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The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook: Buildings

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Buildings account for almost one-third of global emissions, so they’re a critical sector to address climate change.

Buildings are our environment—a majority of humans spend most of their time in buildings at home, at work, and during their leisure time. As a result, buildings are places that people can relate to, and they provide multiple benefits when improved, including greater comfort, positive health effects, and lower ongoing costs. Regional governments have an essential role in setting standards and goals to improve this sector.

Developed in partnership with the Under2 Coalition 

Action I: Net-Zero Codes

Description

Establish a plan for regional building codes to either immediately require net-zero carbon or energy performance for new buildings, or to phase in a net-zero standard.  Focus the policy on deep energy efficiency, including requirements for on-site solar where feasible and access to local renewable energy options.

Action Documents

Recommended Resources

Action 2: Existing Building Upgrades

Description

Require existing buildings to meet certain standards for energy efficiency in the form of building-equipment efficiency standards, targets for energy consumption metrics (like energy consumption per unit area), or other methods. These standards should set requirements that are specific to a given building use type.

Action Documents

Recommended Resources

The best way to reduce emissions is to consume less energy—this is a challenge in existing buildings. Lombardy Region is at the forefront of promoting energy efficiency, starting from the renovation of public buildings all the way up to the whole building heritage.

‐Raffaele Cattaneo, Minister for Environment and Climate, Lombardy Region, Italy

Action 3: Robust Regional Efficiency

Description

Require electric and/or fossil fuel utilities and administrators involved in the energy supply chain to develop energy-savings programs for their customers. These energy efficiency resource standards (EERS) can be put into effect through legislation or regulation, and should be coordinated with a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) (See recommendation on Renewable Portfolio Standard).

Action Documents

Recommended Resources

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BROWSE THE 30 RECOMMENDATIONS BY SECTOR AND FIND ASSOCIATED RESOURCES TO TAKE ACTION TODAY

Buildings

More efficient buildings provide multiple benefits including lower emissions, greater comfort, improved health, and lower ongoing costs.

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Mobility

Regional governments can enable cities to invest in better mobility options, lowering emissions while increasing mobility choices and improving health.

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Electricity

Ensuring that our electricity comes from renewable or zero emission sources is critical to a cleaner and more resilient future.

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Industry

Regional governments provide the right scale to support industry—the foundation of many regional economies—in transitioning to low-carbon solutions.

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Land Use

Sustainable and regenerative agriculture, forestry, and other land use can help offset some of the large emission impacts that this sector produces.

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Waste

Managing waste in a sustainable manner can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also creating economic opportunities.

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Finance

Regional governments can organize and deliver financial solutions to enable all the recommendations covered in the Handbook.

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Take action today and set your community on an ambitious course to carbon-neutrality bringing economic vitality, cleaner air, and better health and resilience.