Applying currently available technologies can cost effectively save 30 to 40 percent of energy use
and GHG emissions in new buildings, when evaluated on a life cycle basis. Technology opportunities are
more limited for the existing building stock, and the implementation rate depends on the replacement
cycles for building equipment and components. However, several opportunities worth noting apply to
existing as well as new buildings, including efficiencies in roofing, lighting, home heating and cooling,
and appliances. Emerging building technologies, especially new lighting systems and integrated thermal
and power systems, could lead to further cost effective energy savings. All of these potential effects,
however, are contingent upon policy interventions to overcome the barriers to change.
Community and Urban Subsystems
Evidence suggests that higher density, more spatially compact and mixed use building develop 
ments can offer significant reductions in GHG emissions through three complementary effects: (1)
reduced vehicle miles of travel, (2) reduced consumption for space conditioning as a result of district and
integrated energy systems, and (3) reduced municipal infrastructure requirements. Both behavioral and
institutional barriers to changes in urban form are significant. The effect of urban re design on travel and
municipal energy systems will need to be tied to important developments in travel pricing, transportation
construction, and other infrastructure investment policies. 
Past studies have concluded conservatively that changes in land use patterns may reduce vehicle
miles traveled by 5 to 12 percent by mid century. More compact urban development could also lead to
comparable GHG reductions from efficiencies brought about by district and integrated energy systems,
with a small additional decrement from a reduced need for supporting municipal infrastructures. In total,
therefore, GHG reductions of as much as 3 to 8 percent may be feasible by mid century, subject to the
near term enactment of progressive land use planning policies.
Policy Options
Policy research suggests that public interventions could overcome many of the market failures
and barriers hindering widespread penetration of climate friendly technologies and practices. The mosaic
of current policies affecting the building sector is complex and dynamic, ranging from local, state, and
regional initiatives, to a diverse portfolio of federal initiatives. Numerous policy innovations could be
added to this mix, and many are being tried in test beds at the state and local level.
In this report, buildings energy research and development (R&D) and six deployment policies are
reviewed that have a documented track record of delivering cost effective GHG reductions and that hold
promise for continuing to transform markets.  The six deployment policies include (1) state and local building
codes, (2) federal appliance and equipment efficiency standards, (3) utility based financial incentive and
public benefits programs, (4) the low income Weatherization Assistance Program, (5) the ENERGY STAR
Program, and (6) the Federal Energy Management Program. Annual energy savings and carbon reduction
Towards a Climate Friendly  
Built Environment

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