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A review of the city by city commitments reveals an overwhelming concern with the energy efficiency of buildings; in a few cases, particularly where the local energy utility is municipally owned, there’s a major focus on green power; all cities are committed to “lead by example” by greening their own buildings and fleets; and only in a handful are there significant commitments to reducing transportation emissions area-wide.
A greenhouse gas emissions inventory was conducted for Chicago and its metropolitanregion for the years 2000 and 2005. Emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride totaled 34.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e) in Chicago in 2000 with 91 percent of emissions attributable to the indirect emissions associated with electricity consumption, the direct emissions of natural gas use, and the direct emissions of the transportation sector. A portfolio of 33 potential emissions reduction strategies was analyzed that, implemented together, could meet Chicago’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The largest potential for reduction is found in the areas with the largest emissions—energy use in buildings and transport. Compared to its metropolitan region, Chicago is found to have existing transportation efficiencies on a per household basis that can be an example for other communities.
The built environment accounts for approximately half the energy use and carbon footprint of the United States. Lean Buildings reduce energy flows by tapping basic natural heating and cooling techniques and renewable energy sources in ways that are region-specific and climate-sensitive. This paper offers strategies to reduce material and energy consumption, including the use of local and recycled materials, heavy insulation, building orientation, passive solar systems, and dense urban configurations. Issues of energy quantity and quality, energy codes and metrics, as well as building size and configuration, are also discussed.
Currently 83 percent of the energy consumed in the United States is from fossil fuels. This in turn creates 81 percent of the United States\' emissions of greenhouse gases, is the principle source of air pollution, and leads to major environmental problems where the fuel is extracted from the ground. Increasing the share of non-fossil energy involves a switch from the fuels that took tens of millions of years to form under the ground, to sources that are constantly renewed. This column is devoted to the legal aspects involved in increasing the share of the energy that we use that comes from renewable sources. The author points to six legal techniques that have been developed to increase the use of renewable energy: 1) Portfolio Standards 2)Mandatory Utility Purchases 3)Renewable Fuel Standards 4)Carbon Price 5) Tax Incentives and 6)Research and Development. In addition to this, the author points to six impediments to the growth of renewables: 1)Intermittency 2)Fossil Subsidies 3)Capital Availability 4)Turnover Rate of Capital Plant 5)Scale and Timing and 6)Siting and Environmental Impacts.
Although the traditional linear economy brought much prosperity, it has functioned by taking primary resources, turning them into products, and disposing of the waste. In the face of the global climate change crisis, cities need to transit to circular economy. In a city with a circular economy, “reduce-reuse-recycle” will replace “take-make-dispose”. Five areas are central to circular economies: citizen engagement, waste as a resource, Circular design and planning models, New models of procurement, Circular economy incubators and start-up ecosystems. It is also important for city leaders to work with private sector to secure the funds for circular program. Urban mobility will be carbon-neutral, relying on low- to zero-emission vehicles within a broader energy network powered by renewables. Cities and businesses will also generate savings from using recycled building materials and turning waste into fuel to power buses.
Increasing energy efficiency is the most important action that can be taken to combat climate change. There are currently an abundance of legal techniques available at the federal, state and municipal levels that cumulatively could accomplish a great deal in cutting energy use, lowering U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and reducing GHG emissions and the other adverse environmental impacts on energy production. The author points to nine legal techniques by which we can increase energy efficiency: 1)Technology Standards 2)Retrofitting 3)Information 4)System Benefit Charges 5)Urban Density 6)Portfolio Standards 7)Carbon Price 8)Tax and Non-Tax Incentives and 9)Government Procurement. In addition to this, the author lays out six impediments to achieving efficiency: 1)Split Incentives 2)Low Energy Prices 3)Capital Budgeting 4)Capital Stock Turnover 5)Utility Rate Systems and 6)Invisibility of Waste.
The U.S. housing market has seen significant transformation in the last few years, calling for a return of smaller, more efficient dwellings. Design and construction principles from places like the Philippines where pragmatic building practices employing simple construction methods with local, readily available materials are more common may offer useful techniques for developing Lean Housing in the United States.
As cities look for solutions to help meet their increasingly aggressive clean energy targets and support their local economies, community solar is a growing opportunity. Community Solar is the distributed solar projects shared virtually by a number of subscribers in a community, typically through on-bill credits. For cities, community solar is a way to vastly increase the amount of locally generated renewable energy, along with associated benefits of local jobs, property tax revenue, and local community investment.
This article examines the issue of climate change policy and international trade law. While conventional wisdom may have predicted that conflicts in trade law would emerge through climate-related protectionist measures, such as carbon tariffs on imports from countries with less stringent controls on greenhouse gas emissions, the authors point out that government support for climate-friendly technologies has in fact emerged as a primary battleground. The authors examine two recent disputes- between the United States and China and between Japan and Canada- over green subsidies and their implications for the future of clean energy. In conclusion, the authors find it is far too early to speak conclusively of the disputes\' long term effects on the clean energy and green growth agenda. They suggest, however, that government subsidies for clean technology may destabilize long-standing practices and rules under the GATT/WTO regime.
On April 30, President Barack Obama signed into law the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, a much pared-down version of a bill that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Rob Portman have been pushing for several years. Several other energy-efficiency bills just underwent hearings in Congress. At the same time, the House Appropriations Committee has just voted to slash federal research on energy efficiency, and several bills to impede efficiency efforts are advancing. Thus it remains to be seen whether the EEIA has broken the logjam on energy-efficiency legislation, and will be followed by a gush of other bills, or is an anomaly in a Congress that is much friendlier to fossil fuels than to clean energy. This column begins with a description of the new enactment. It then discusses the other pending energy-efficiency legislation, and it concludes with a summary of the appropriations actions.