The Biden administration this month released a “road map” to reach net zero emissions by 2050 by focusing on five key areas for research and development, including efficient buildings and grid decarbonization. (White House Fact Sheet)
Buildings Sector Emissions
- One of the priorities in the administration’s net zero initiative is to accelerate innovation in “efficient building heating and cooling.” It notes that HVAC is responsible for nearly a fifth of commercial building energy use.
- “Innovation is required to reduce upfront costs to enable widespread adoption” of retrofits that replace traditional HVAC systems with heat pumps, automated controls that interact with the grid, and the switch to refrigerants with low global warming potential, according to the R&D report.
ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a separate report this week marking two decades of ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings. EPA concluded that the overall stock of U.S. office buildings has become 30 percent more energy efficient since the turn of the century. Top-of-class “certified” office buildings decreased energy use by 30 percent in the last decade alone.
- EPA’s “Two Decades of ENERGY STAR” study also found that owners and managers cite “operations and maintenance” as the most important factor to optimize building energy performance—more than investments in original design and construction, or to retrofit older buildings with new equipment.
- New data show corporate emissions cuts still lag far behind their pledges. A "Net-Zero Tracker" by the investment research firm MSCI finds public companies' emissions are out of step with global targets. (Axios, Oct. 18 and Nov. 3)
- Additionally, an Accenture report shows that more than 90 percent of large companies that have made net zero emissions pledges will miss their goals at their current pace. (The Hill, Nov. 3)
Clean Energy Incentives
- Various clean energy tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed by Congress in August were the focus of extensive comments submitted by The Real Estate Roundtable to the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) earlier this month. [Nov. 4 letter and Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 12]
- Stacking multiple incentives on the same buildings “must be encouraged for the real estate industry to strive towards net zero emissions,” The Roundtable stated in its comments.
The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) will discuss the IRA’s clean energy incentives during its Jan. 25, 2023 meeting, which will be held in conjunction with The Roundtable’s State of The Industry meeting.
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