Existing Buildings

Existing Building Actions

Achieving zero emissions from the existing building stock will require accelerating the rate and depth of energy upgrades by leveraging building intervention points.

Energy Upgrades

For full building sector decarbonization, every existing building will need to undergo energy upgrades involving a combination of: improvements in the energy efficiency of building operations, a shift to electric or district heating systems powered by carbon-free renewable energy sources, and the generation and/or procurement of carbon-free renewable energy.

Intervention Points

Building intervention points occur at: point-of-sale; major renovations; building systems, materials and equipment replacements; capital improvement cycles; zoning or use changes; and life-safety and resiliency upgrades (e.g. seismic, flooding, fire prevention, power disruption).

By aligning energy upgrades with market-driven intervention points the cost and disruption to building owners and users can be significantly reduced. Intervention point-aligned energy upgrades also catalyze expanded markets for building renovations and carbon-free renewable energy generation that stimulate a sustained increase in local jobs, market growth, and tax revenue.

Architecture 2030 Insight

In most cities there are relatively few big buildings responsible for about 50% of city-wide building sector emissions, and a large number of small buildings responsible for the remaining 50% of emissions.

For equitable and implementable decarbonization pathways, different policy levers and voluntary incentive mechanisms will likely be required for big buildings than for small buildings. 

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