The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Jordi Jaria i Manzano, Nathalie Chalifour and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 11: Learning from Europe: some ideas for the energy improvement of the US existing building stock
Energy consumption in buildings is on the rise and represents almost half of total greenhouse gas emissions in cities, which are the main cause of global warming on the planet. There is a great scientific consensus that improving energy efficiency of building systems and operations is a very effective way to tackle this important problem. However, despite the fact that the existing building stock has the greatest potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction, most laws and regulations adopted have focused primarily on new buildings. Hence, improving energy efficiency in existing buildings represents a great opportunity for reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Numerous measures to increase efficiency and decrease emissions have been put in place in Europe and in the United States, with Europe taking the lead, but there is still much to be done. The measures range from more conventional proposals to innovative market-based instruments and, though similar to some extent, are tailored to the specifics of each region. Based on the European experience, this chapter seizes the opportunity to fill in the existing gap on the energy upturn of the existing building stock, giving some useful elements to legal professionals in order to improve the measures developed throughout the United States.
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