The Sum of its Parts – Honoring the Paris Climate Agreement

Last October, New Buildings Institute along with a host of partners, opened the Getting to Zero National Forum with great enthusiasm, sharing gratitude and satisfaction over the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement, noting how the global agreement to address climate change legitimized our movement and could be seen as an endorsement of the efforts we have been making to advance energy performance in buildings on a path to achieving zero energy in the building sector.  We have long known that buildings contribute over 40% of carbon emissions and 70% of the electricity we use.

According to C40, the building sector offers the greatest number of near-term actions to address climate change.  In cities, buildings can be responsible for over 75% of emissions, making the building sector a clear focus for leadership in energy efficiency and emissions reductions.

Yesterday, our enthusiasm was checked, but we have already seen a clear path forward for honoring Paris and continuing to achieve our mission.  Leading jurisdiction, cities and states across the U.S., have already declared their commitments.  New York, Washington and California, representing one fifth of the U.S. population and one fifth of our GDP have already come together and are asking other states to join them under their “climate alliance”.

Over the past 20 years, NBI has been supporting the advances in energy efficiency through the development of innovative programs, research, design guidance and advanced energy codes and policies.  Many of our efforts support leading jurisdictions as they work to achieve the goals of their climate action plans.

Over the past 24 hours, it has become clear that leading states and cities will uphold the commitments of the Paris Agreement and provide collective leadership in lieu of a national commitment.  The good news is that states and cities have already been playing this leadership role, especially after years of gridlock in congress on the passage of significant energy-related legislation.  And with few exceptions, leading states and cities have the authority and political support to do their part to support and achieve the commitments of the Paris Agreement.

In recent years NBI, along with our partners, has been assembling the tools and resources to enable and support leading jurisdictions significantly advance the energy performance of their building stock.  Our toolkit includes training workshops and webinars, program design and development, building portfolio benchmarking and prioritization, design guidance, stretch code development, stakeholder and communications resources and a host of other elements that facilitate market transformation for jurisdictions that want to lead.

Yesterday’s decision has further galvanized our resolve and we are committed to redouble our efforts to support leadership in the building sector.  We welcome the opportunity to partner with cities and states as they develop and evolve their approach to achieving their energy and climate goals.

Perhaps today is the beginning of a new era in the United States, where the sum of its parts will be greater than the whole, and together we will meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement through a collaboration of state and local leadership and allied organizations.  At NBI, we have rolled up our sleeves and are ready to deliver.  Also, on the weeks that follow, we will be sharing blogs with additional strategies we are deploying to make progress on these issues.  Please contact us at info@newbuildings.org if your organization would like to partner with NBI to realize this opportunity for market transformation.

Ralph DiNola, CEO