Green energy for green buildings

The world will be 100% renewable

The world is shifting towards renewables. In many parts of the world, renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels. And because renewable energy is a technology, not a scarce resource, it will only get cheaper. We are ahead of a revolution, comparable to the internet and mobile telecommunication revolution of the last 2 decades.

We need leaders

The important differences between the renewable energy revolution and the revolution in the telecommunication sector are the timing and the ‚drivers‘.

The world wouldn’t have been a much better or much worse place if the introduction of the internet and mobile phones would have taken 10 more years. But in the case of the renewables, every month counts. Climate change is already shaking the planet, and a fast, very fast, move to renewables seems our only hope to keep the temperature more or less under control.

Unfortunately, electricity is less tangible than a smartphone. If a solar panel and a wind turbine would have the same appeal and the direct impact on people’s lives as mobile with an internet connection, the world would already be renewable. Or at least 50%.

And that’s why we need leaders. Consumers showing the way, not only by using renewable energy but also by proudly communicating about it.

A role for green building networks

Green buildings and green building networks can definitely play an important role in this process.

  • In most countries, buildings represent 30 to 40% of total final energy consumption (other sectors are e.g. industry and transport)
  • Buildings are the places where people spend most of their time: to work, eat, relax and sleep. This is the place where they get electricity out of the wall and where they consume most of the electricity.
  • Green building networks have experience in communicating about the impacts of buildings, and in setting workable standards to reduce that impact.
  • The green building sector is well structured and the green building councils form a unique structure where experts exchange experience and measures.

The first steps have been taken. An increasing number of green building standards are now explicitly recommending that all purchased electricity should be renewable. The LEED Standard even goes further. LEED doesn’t just refer to renewable energy, but to eco-labelled green electricity, such as electricity with the Green-e or EKOenergy label. Doing so, they guarantee that the purchase has a higher positive impact. It also makes it easier for buildings to communicate about their green energy purchase, which helps to convince even more people to follow the example.

Material

Recently, EKOenergy, the German Green Building Association and the US Green Building Council made an online course about green power: Green Power: How to buy renewable electricity for LEED and carbon accounting. The same course is also available in German and soon also in French.

You can also have a look at summaries on YouTube (English, German, French, Spanish).

Cooperation

We are looking forward to joining strengths with other actors of the growing green building sector as well. Let’s promote together the benefits of a 100% renewable society. Buying green energy is easy. And if it is not yet, we will make it easy together. Let’s pave the way, not only in these countries where renewable electricity is already a common practice but also in all other countries.

Written by Steven Vanholme
Posted on 29 February 2016

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