Buildings Make Up a Major Piece of the Energy and Emissions “Pie”
The biggest carbon polluter that humans have created is our buildings. The US Department of Energy states that buildings account for 40% of energy consumption and 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, they consume 72% of electricity, 55% of natural gas and a significant amount of heating oil and propane – more than that of the transportation industry.
Space Conditioning Presents Both a Problem and a Solution
Are you aware that building operations make up the majority of energy and carbon emissions associated with this sector? The day-to-day operations of space conditioning (heating, cooling, ventilation) and water heating applications make up 40% of total energy used by buildings. Aha! Here lies the problem and the opportunity to realize an actionable solution. The problem, when it comes to end-use space conditioning, is two-fold:
- Problem #1: We are space conditioning inefficiently and, as a result, consuming more energy.
- Problem #2: We are burning fossil fuels.
Both problems mean buildings not only account for a bigger piece of the pie, but a bigger pie as a whole, even greater than the transportation industry.
Geothermal Heat Pump Systems are a Practical and Actionable Solution
Thankfully, there is already a practical and actionable alternative to minimizing the carbon footprint associated with space conditioning. Geothermal heat pump systems (GHPs) use the thermal capacity of the ground, or the energy under our feet, to provide heating and cooling to a facility. GHPs present the perfect solution to the environmental problems associated with building operations and if we factor in utility involvement it becomes even more practical.
- Solution #1: GHPs are extremely energy efficient, saving up to 30% more energy compared to conventional HVAC systems.
- Solution #2: GHP’s require zero fossil fuel burning.
When we face the reality that building space conditioning make up a large piece of the energy pie, geothermal technology is a major weapon in the quest for less emissions, a stronger grid and the creation of thousands of jobs for the area.
John (Jack) P. DiEnna Jr is the Executive Director of the Geothermal National & International Initiative, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org