Earth Day is less than one week away so I thought a post about climate change and the environment would be appropriate. One of the hottest topics in sustainability in 2010 is the proposed Cap and Trade systems that many nations are considering. Cap and Trade systems are one of the many mechanisms government can utilize to proactively combat the issues of climate change. Proponents of the system believe that Cap and Trade is a critical step towards helping with the Earth-wide goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. The debate is likely to intensify within the US over the coming months as the Obama administration turns its attention to climate change, having addressed health care and financial system reform.
In one month we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. In preparation for a research project I am working on I decided to read Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded. While Idid not find it quite as interesting as the World is Flat, Friedman does provide a nice synopsis of the challenges facing the planet in the coming century. There were 15 key issues that I noted as key takeaways from Hot, Flat and Crowded. The following list offers a paraphrased summary of the key points in Friedman’s book:
A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that 10% of all energy worldwide is consumed by commercial real estate sites. Commercial buildings, as defined in the study, include a broad array of non-manufacturing structures such as hotels, hospitals, restaurants, warehouses, retail stores and office buildings. Stated another way – one out of every ten BTUs of energy produced is used to heat, cool, power or light buildings. This statistic may surprise you, but commercial energy usage is relatively small when compared to residential household consumption. Residences utilize 2.5 times more energy annually than businesses. Commercial energy usage is small relative to the transportation sector. The ground and air transportation sectors consume almost 2 times as much. Nonetheless, commercial buildings represent a significant energy user and therefore a worthwhile candidate for exploring efficiency initiatives to support the environment.