The big budgets being talked about for the transition require us to decide how much to spend, and on what. Maximilian Auffhammer at the Energy Institute at Haas explains why he thinks a lot of the money being earmarked for buildings renovations would be better spent elsewhere. By the time the renovation wave has successfully “reached the shoreline” in the next few decades buildings will be powered overwhelmingly by clean grids (that’s the plan, right?) So the reduction in energy waste will have no effect on emissions. Renovations are going to be very expensive: isn’t it better to spend that money on clean energy, bringing that clean grid finishing line closer? Electrification and anything that cuts fossil fuel use makes sense. But deep renovations? And at what price? “Comfort”, often cited as another reason for renovations, is poor justification. When the aim is to have the same temperature and humidity as before there’s little change in comfort, says Auffhammer. He also points to past attempts to subsidise renovations and the poor uptake by households, along with research suggesting the efficiency savings are often exaggerated. Noting that low-income housing is the most energy inefficient, Auffhammer wants renovation budgets to prioritise building new, energy efficient housing near public transportation infrastructure.
Energy Post 30th April 2021 read more »