Under the terms of the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, China has agreed for the first time to set a limit on the rise of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and China have the ultimate responsibility for leadership in tackling climate change. The next big hurdle is driving emissions downward. Federal regulation on climate change in the United States has been at a standstill, but elements of this agreement shed light on opportunities to reduce emissions while stimulating the economy.
We know buildings demand about 40% of all energy used in the United States, and there is a lot of room for improvement in how we live and work in buildings. In China, the opportunities to tackle inefficient building operations are just beginning to unfold. In fact, China’s State Council Development Research Center projects that energy efficiency in buildings could provide 25% of China’s new power needs by 2020. The central government projects that, by 2020, 60% of the population will be urbanized and more than 1 trillion square feet of new commercial and public buildings will be added to the country’s building stock (learn more from Navigant Research’s reports, Energy Efficient Buildings Asia Pacific and Smart Cities).
Measure, Monitor, Manage, and Mitigate
As the saying goes: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. The first big benefit of smart building technologies is insight into how your facility is operating. In order to make improvements, you must have a baseline. Recognizing this challenge, cities across the United States (including New York City, Seattle, and Chicago) have passed building benchmarking laws to start a new wave of energy awareness. A wide array of smart building solutions is available to help building owners track their energy use to meet these new demands.
Smart buildings are defined by integrated and dynamic systems. From the innovators in building energy management systems (as detailed in Navigant Research’s Leaderboard Report: Building Energy Management Systems) to advanced wireless controls for smart buildings, technology is helping building operators and decision makers shift their operations to new schemes for continuous improvement. Smart building solutions redesign the processes for monitoring and managing systems from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to plug loads, and in doing so, provide new ways to mitigate GHG emissions from building operations.
The development of smart buildings should be a keystone in the collaboration and innovation targets of the U.S.-China Climate Agreement, because the enabling technologies not only dramatically reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions, but make real economic sense.
Tags: China, Energy Efficient Buildings, Policy & Regulation, Smart Buildings Program
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