builders generally minimize first costs, believing (probably correctly) that the higher cost of more efficient
equipment will not translate into a higher resale value for the building.
Lack of availability of climate friendly technologies is often a problem. For example, the purchase
of heat pump water heaters and ground coupled heat pumps
has been handicapped by limited access to
equipment suppliers, installers, and repair technicians.
The problem of access is exacerbated in the
case of heating equipment and appliances, because they are often bought on an emergency basis, thereby
limiting choices to available stock. A survey of 639 consumers who had recently replaced their gas
furnaces estimated that in one third of the cases the old furnace was not functioning.
furnaces represent a more costly inventory that dealers tend to prefer to sell on special order. Thus, a
potential barrier to the selection of high efficiency furnaces by emergency buyers is the lack of available
units in the stock maintained by dealers.
C. Drivers for Low GHG Buildings: Now and in the Future
Affordability, aesthetics, and utility have traditionally been major
drivers of building construction, occupancy, and renovation.
In addition to climatic
conditions, the drivers for energy efficiency and low GHG energy resources depend on the local and
regional energy supply costs and constraints, incentives, public utility commission rules, and utility
business practices. The opportunities for climate friendly building and savings in water and materials are
substantial in most regions of the United States; however, the drivers depend very much on local and
regional land and natural resource constraints. Other drivers for low GHG buildings are increasingly
considered such as indoor air quality and worker productivity, clean air regulations,
the costs of urban
sprawl, and electric reliability.
The U.S. electric power system has been evolving (although the transition is currently stalled)
from a centrally planned and utility controlled structure to one that depends on competitive market forces
for investment, operations, and reliability management. Electric system operators are being challenged to
maintain the reliability levels needed for the increasingly digital economy in the face of a cost competi
tive generation market, grid bottlenecks, excessive price volatility, and increasingly costly blackouts. One
of the fixes being pursued and growing in popularity is price responsive demand that is, providing incen
tives to building owners and industrial customers to reduce loads in response to high prices and electric
Towards a Climate Friendly