Four-fifths of the buildings we will be using in 2050 have already been built, so demolishing our energy-inefficient homes, offices, and schools, then building from scratch to reduce our energy consumption, isn’t an option. The only viable course is to use current approaches and technologies to realize energy-saving gains from our existing buildings.
To improve the efficiency of America’s buildings, Surdna is partnering with organizations whose work drives innovation and stimulates supply and demand for energy-saving retrofitting services that lead to lower utility bills for low-income communities and people of color while reducing carbon emissions and generating jobs. Yet few of these efficiencies can be introduced—especially at scale—without financing. Some of the most important energy-efficiency innovations we are supporting are emerging not from laboratories but from organizations like Energy Programs Consortium, which has developed retrofit loan products for low-income homeowners, and Clean Energy Group, whose promotion of public finance tools has helped finance energy efficiency and new, clean-energy industries.
Surdna is also supporting policies and community engagement strategies to help cities and towns think about and respond to the pressures on the existing energy system. By helping to make our energy infrastructure more visible, its benefits better understood, and its human impacts clearer, communities will be better equipped to explore options like community scale and distributed energy infrastructure that improve the equity and long-term resilience of the system.