Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Houston pioneers energy savings

Sorry for being a day late on the blog post. Just a quick pass along from the New York Times. Houston is one of 16 world cities that have agreed to be part of a plan to make billions of dollars of investments to make their buildings more energy efficient, as part of a solution to global warming/climate change.

A coalition of 16 of the world’s biggest cities, five banks, one former president and companies and groups that modernize aging buildings pledged today to invest billions of dollars to cut urban energy use and releases of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Under a plan developed through the William J. Clinton Foundation, participating banks would provide up to $1 billion each in loans that cities or private landlords would use to upgrade energy-hungry heating, cooling, and lighting systems in older buildings.

The loans and interest would be paid back with savings accrued through reduced energy costs, organizers of the initiative said at a news conference this afternoon in Manhattan. Typically, such upgrades can cut energy use and costs 20 to 50 percent, they said.

Making more efficient use of energy is considered by many scientists to be the best starting point for addressing global warming, particularly because there is a potential immediate financial payoff along with the long-term environmental benefit.

Energy use in buildings accounts for about a third of global releases of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. In densely populated older cities, such as New York City and London, buildings are the dominant source of greenhouse gases.

The first targets under the initiative, organizers said, would be municipal buildings in the participating cities — Bangkok, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, Johannesburg, Karachi, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Mumbai, New York, Rome, São Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo and Toronto.

The project is aimed at propelling energy-saving investments that otherwise tend not to happen even when long-term financial benefits are clear — because cities or property owners lack access to capital, organizers said.

Not a bad set of company. And an initiative that makes total sense. Definitely part of the no-brainer low-hanging-fruit in the debate over and response to global warming.

Update: AP version of the story.

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At 12:29 PM, May 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news indeed, and long overdue, but the title of this posting is misleading. Houston is currently NOT a pioneer for energy efficiency. However, Mayor White certainly has set a positive trajectory on this topic, and we *could* become a leader (not a pioneer, as we're too late to be counted amongst the first) in building-level energy efficiency if we wanted to.


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