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Retrofitting: Not all homes will be new in 2037

  • Article by: Karen Youso
  • Star Tribune
  • March 23, 2007 - 10:57 AM

Not everyone will be living in new houses come 2037. So what about your house, the neighbor s house and all the existing buildings in Minnesota? They won t operate the way they do today, say architects and scientists.

The average Minnesota house emits 15 tons of carbon dioxide yearly, according to Center of Energy and the Environment (CEE), a nonprofit organization dealing in environmental issues. That number needs to drop dramatically to slow global warming and climate change, experts say. The goal is zero emissions by 2030.

But homes and buildings won t be razed and rebuilt to accomplish this; they will be improved and remodeled. Indeed, three-fourths of the built environment will be new or renovated by 2035, according to architect Edward Mazria. He s founder of Architecture 2030, a phased-in plan for achieving carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. (See www.architecture2030.org.) Changing our buildings can make a huge difference. They account for nearly half of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions yearly, Mazria said.

In addition, homes will need to be fortified to reduce the chance of storm-related damage. For both jobs, homeowners will need incentives. They ll come in the form of rising energy and insurance costs, tax breaks or even a carbon tax, experts predict.

To step toward the future, take the Minnesota Energy Challenge to calculate your emissions and learn steps to reduce them (www.mn energychallenge.org).

And to make your home more disaster-resistant when building new or remodeling, go to www.ibhs.org, and click on Fortified for Safer Living in the right-side menu.

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