Decarbonization Race Heats Up For 2020
By Darrell Smith, Executive Director of the International Window Film Association
You may hear more about the need to ‘decarbonize’ in the coming year and beyond. Think of the term as putting a building on diet, just like people who want to reduce their weight by eating less of foods that contain ‘carbohydrates’ such as bread, potato’s and pasta.
In terms of buildings, the ‘carbs’ that proponents of decarbonization want to reduce are natural gas, fuel oils and coal, collectively referred to as fossil fuels.
Buildings use about 40 percent of energy produced in the United States and are responsible for about 30 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, making carbon emissions from buildings a priority for reduction.
This pollution comes from burning fossil fuels on site primarily for space and water heating, and by utilities generating electricity for lighting, air conditioning, appliances, or space and water heating.
Many large cities and states are looking to curb the use of fossil fuels and the resulting emission of carbon into the atmosphere by significant percentages and even all the way down to zero emissions.
At least two communities, Berkeley, California and Brookline, Massachusetts have made trend-setting bans on gas appliances in new homes and in major renovations.
But when one considers that most of our buildings in North America were built before the energy codes for new construction took effect, the road to decarbonization may be filled with potholes.
To help cities and states and the northern hemisphere to achieve decarbonization goals it’s crucial that we also lower energy demand in older, existing buildings and thus, power generation through such improvements as weatherization and high-efficiency appliances. Lower demand also helps to encourage the use of renewable energy systems, further cleaning the air and possibly reducing energy bills.
Window films can play a key role in helping buildings to achieve lower carbon emissions by reducing energy use and extending the life of windows that are otherwise in good condition, but lacking updated energy saving factors. Solar control window films may reduce the amount of the sun’s solar energy that passes through a glass window by 80 percent.
Window films start working right away to save money, they do not need to be activated or controlled and they deliver many other benefits such as improving the curb appeal of a structure, they reduce the sun’s harmful UV rays by 99 percent, and add a level of safety to the glass by helping to hold it together if impacted. Be sure to visit the IWFA’s business locator to find a member company near you. Remember when you look for window film, look for the IWFA logo first.