Urban Energy Transformation: Cambridge Alliance’s Impact

The discussion of solutions to climate change often turns toward cutting-edge renewable energy technology, hybrid cars, and solar panels, but one of the easiest, most cost-effective, and quickest ways to reduce our carbon footprint is simply through greater efficiency of the energy we now use. Much of that energy is used in lighting, heating, and cooling the buildings in which we live and work.

Empowering Urban Sustainability Through Energy Efficiency

According to the Energy Information Administration, the building sector has contributed 48 percent of the increase in carbon gas emissions since 1990. In urban areas, up to 80% of carbon emissions come from buildings.

In most urban areas like Cambridge, many of the buildings are decades old, built without sufficient insulation or energy-efficient building materials, and use inefficient heating and lighting systems. Retrofitting these buildings will dramatically reduce energy use and carbon emissions. The challenge is implementing such a massive retrofit of buildings on a national scale.

A program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, may provide a model for mainstreaming efficiency, making it feasible, both economically and practically, for businesses, governments, and individual homeowners to save money and energy and even help save the planet.

Cambridge Energy Alliance: Innovations in Building Retrofitting and Energy Savings

The Cambridge Energy Alliance is a non-profit city-sponsored program that offers homeowners, institutions, and businesses a complete energy audit, retrofit, and financing—all in a relatively easy one-stop program.

Cambridge Energy Alliance - a model of the future

Recently featured on the PBS series NOW, the program aims to reach half of Cambridge’s buildings, helping participants cut energy use by 15 to 30%. The program then provides financing for building upgrades through loans that can “pay for themselves” through the energy saved.

Another benefit of the Alliance is helping create jobs in the “green collar” sector. New building materials and techniques require specialized skills that provide jobs and business opportunities in an otherwise downturned building market.

If successful, the model of the CEA may prove a key factor in emissions reduction, energy savings, and jobs.

Win-win-win.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schuenemanhttps://tdsenvironmentalmedia.com
Tom is the founder and managing editor of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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