The depraved energy waste of most buildings

A third of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US are from the operation of buildings. A huge portion of it is just pure stupid waste. I recommend reading this article by Auden Schendler about the HVAC in commercial buildings, focusing on

two crucial elements that are missing in most commercial buildings. The first is energy use monitoring. The second is commissioning, a third party evaluation of the heating and cooling systems to make sure they are working to specifications.

According to this comment on the article

I have worked in a variety of buildings and the HVAC in all of them were horrible.

One of the root problems is that our tax code encourages businesses to lease instead of own buildings. As a result, the businesses using the buildings don’t have much control over them, and the building owners don’t want to spend money to fix them because it’s not their problem – they don’t pay the electric bill.

And, if you own a building that you pay the energy bills for, consider this comment by August Hasz

It is also good to see people talking about the reality of buildings (both new and existing) needing commissioning. At Resource Engineering Group we continually come across owners that don’t believe they should have to pay for commissioning. Understandably, their stance is- “hey, I paid for a system that works, the general and mechanical contractors say it does, the buildings feels fine… why should I pay some one else to check it?” We design and commission systems from single family residences on up thru a 100k ft2 commercial buildings and I have never ever commissioned a system and not found something significantly wrong with the install. Even with great contractors, it is just a fact of life. HVAC systems require the GC, pipe fitter, plumber, tin installer, electrician, controls installer, and possibly fire suppression contractor all to coordinate and not drop a single ball. A tough order on a typical job site.

According to Steven Chu

When it comes to saving money and growing our economy, energy efficiency isn’t just low hanging fruit; it’s fruit lying on the ground.

Some slow progress is happening, but I would argue that the fastest way to motivate fixing these deficiencies would be a substantial carbon tax.


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