Why Buildings?

Why is Community Environmental Center (CEC) committed to improving the energy efficiency of buildings?

Our answer is clear and direct: CEC wants to make sure people live and work in comfort and save money on their energy bills, and CEC is determined to lessen the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate and weather upheavals around the world.

Homes and buildings use more than 1/3 of the energy consumed in the United States today. Think about it: we heat and air-condition our houses, apartments and offices, our schools and hospitals, not to mention stores, malls, restaurants, and movie theaters. We also use energy to light all those places, and we fill them with machines and appliances – computers, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines — all of which need energy to run.

Buildings in the United States use more energy than industry and manufacturing (30%), more energy than transportation (29%). And by consuming so much energy – most of it supplied by burning oil, gas or coal (the cheapest but also the dirtiest fossil fuel) — buildings account for almost half of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Existing buildings – there are approximately 900,000 in New York City – can be retrofitted, or refurbished, so that they heat and cool more efficiently, use energy-efficient lighting and appliances, conserve water, and even use renewable energy from the sun to provide hot water and heat.

The need to reduce the energy consumption of buildings is urgent, not only to protect the natural world that we depend upon for survival, but also because people are living in cities in greater numbers than ever before. More than half the world’s population — 3.3 billion people – now live in cities and towns, according to the United Nations Population Fund. By 2030 that number will swell to 5 billion, and all of them will inhabit buildings.

CEC believes that we can only begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we focus on buildings. Buildings, and you who own them, and work and live in them, are the keys to a green world.

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