The buzz around green buildings seems to be getting louder by the minute these days. This is not terribly surprising considering that in 1995 the total floorspace in U.S. commercial buildings – 58.8 billion square feet of floorspace—exceeded the total area of the State of Delaware and amounted to more than 200 square feet for every resident in the United States.
In 2008, buildings accounted for 80.9%—or $295 billion—of total U.S. electricity expenditures and 64% – or $215.5 billion – of total U.S. natural gas expenditures, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Needless to say, even modest efficiency gains in the built environment typically translate into massive energy savings and emissions reductions in the aggregate. Commercial and industrial buildings could save an estimated $20 billion if they used energy 10% more efficiently, according to IDC Energy Insights.
And yet the ongoing scandal surrounding the federal loan guarantee provided to the soon-to-be-defunct solar energy start-up Solyndra makes one wonder whether there’s a “there” there behind the green buildings buzz? [read more]