RETHINKING THE BUILDING STOCK – IT’S A CARBON THING (The Importance of the Existing Building Stock
“In 100 years upwards of 80% of the existing buildings will still be here. The existing stock and its operational energy dwarf anything new buildings can offset. Retrofits of existing infrastructure will have the greatest impact for lowering building energy use. Upcycling existing buildings also has the greatest impact on embodied energy.”
Office of Energy Efficiency US
Retrofitting existing stock using natural materials will have a far greater impact even if they are not to Passive House levels because of carbon sequestration than if all the new buildings are required to be Passive House and net zero no matter what they are built of. Despite this : The building code must make Passive House with Renewable Energy the standard for all new construction as a path toward Net Zero.
If we are to truly have a carbon neutral future the building code should add carbon sequestration to Part 11 (Renovations) of the building code like carbon offsets against the use of high greenhouse gas embodied energy materials. The carbon sequestration of natural materials in our buildings would offset their lower R values. That way the walls would not have to become excessively thick. Expectations for air tightness and better windows of renovated buildings should be much higher as these will have a greater effect on comfort and operational energy.
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