Cutting carbon emissions and energy costs: Retrofitting buildings serves dual purpose

August 8, 2012

There are a number of organizations that are helping the U.S. cut its total carbon emissions, but progress often needs to be supported by both the public and private sector. However, the speed with which the changes and greening of America is occurring may need to be increased.

July 2012 was the hottest month on record, according to USA Today. The record set by the "Dust Bowl" days of the 1930s has been shattered, and the January-July period for the year marks the warmest time on record.

Though the full effects of carbon emissions on the environment have not been fully determined, people are beginning to realize that it can't hurt to make changes that will help to reduce the amount of carbon that is pumped into the air.

This is why the U.S. Department of Energy created an innovation Hub to help reduce carbon emissions of commercial buildings across the country, which account for roughly 40 percent of the nation's energy use.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is looking to transform the commercial real estate market by making retrofits and sustainable upgrades attractive to investors and building owners. While they tout the environmental benefits of making this switch, the effort is also centered around the idea that these changes can actually save businesses money.

While major retrofits can do wonders in terms of reducing emissions and costs for building owners and tenants, smaller changes can also help, according to Green Biz.

Many projects will yield long-term results, but patience is often necessary in order for people to see the full impact of any changes that are made. This is why many building owners have made renovations to their structures one part at a time, as they understand that gradual implementation could help to control costs and appease tenants.

According to the news outlet, the most common installations that are made to commercial buildings are changes to lighting controls and the actual lights themselves. LED products are used to limit emissions and waste, and these can end up saving a company a significant amount of money in the long run.

Windows and HVAC systems are also common targets for building owners, as these are huge consumers of energy and inefficient products can lead to increased costs.