One House, One Planet

May/June 2008
A version of this article appears in the May/June 2008 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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May 01, 2008
With the completion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report in November 2007, our mandate is clear. First, we must halt the growth in worldwide green house gas emissions by 2015. Following that, we must sharply reduce emissions, to prevent runaway climate change and the extinction of species. The single largest cause of global warming is coal-fired power plants. The energy produced by coal-fired power plants is used primarily to provide electricity to buildings. In order to stop building new coal-fired plants, and to close existing ones that don’t capture carbon, we must improve our buildings by making them more energy efficient, and by powering them with renewable energy. One Envelope The two fundamental properties of a well-crafted building envelope are weather seal and insulation. Joints between floors, walls, and ceilings are the seams that need sealing, and the cavities in those areas require insulation. Most conventional homes need air sealing and lack adequate insulation. Doors and windows need to be weatherstripped and caulked. Other openings—such as recessed-can lights that let air leak to and from the attic—also need to be sealed.   Floors, walls, and attics require insulation. It is relatively easy ...

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