Problems, Barriers, and Policy Issues
According to McGrow Hill Construction, after 2007 federal law, the Energy Independence and Security Act, building industries have embraced green build. 44% of new commercial construction is green building in 2013. That is expected to increase to 55% in 2016. 22-25% of new residential is green build in 2013, which is expected to increase to 29-38% in 2016. Policy change was the main driver for this transformation. Policies do have huge impact.
The same applies to the other side. As described earlier, fossil fuel industry projects renewable energy stays flat in foreseeable future. That’s what they want for obvious reasons. And they try hard to influence policy makers, media and public to keep it that way. (Edit: As I was finishing up this report, the article came up in bloomberg like to prove the point. “Chemical companies are lobbying the U.S. Congress to limit government use of proposed, tougher green-building codes in the hope that alternative standards may be adopted.”)
Fortunately, more people started to question their tactics, seek facts, and make educated decisions. Although we are far behind compared to many countries, U.S. government and some states have enacted favorable policies for energy efficiency and renewables. New DOE Secretary Moniz emphasized energy efficiency as top priority at his initial speech. I would expect more policies will come in line for us to move forward to reduce energy consumption.
For implementation, initial costs have been a major barrier for green build or improvements. Building owners saw this money out of their pocket and no benefits to their investment. Good news is this perception is changing as well. Commercial PACE is making progress. According to PACE Now, to date, 30 states have PACE enabling legislation. Just recently as last month, even Texas legislature passed the commercial and industrial PACE program for energy and water conservation projects!While residential PACE program had been stalled, once people see benefits in their offices, stores, schools and wherever they spend most of their daytime, they will start accepting and applying energy reduction behavior and retrofitting to their residences. I believe starting big in commercial sector would have compounding effect. With some incentives, improved technologies and reasonable cost, more would take steps to reduce their energy consumption.