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  • Ari Rapport

Carbon-Free Homes?

Carbon, carbon, carbon. Carbon is in the physical structure of every living (or formerly living) thing in this world, including our homes. Why is it such a big deal?

It’s not the carbon in the structure, it’s the “free” carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributing to global warming. Why does this matter to housing? Because carbon is released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels for energy during the extraction, manufacturing, and transportation of the materials and products used to build our homes, from the energy used during construction, and from the energy used while the homes are occupied.

These “embodied” and “operational” carbon emissions from buildings account for more than 1/3 of the carbon released in the United States annually – a significant figure and a big reason why the U.S. Department of Energy recently released the report titled, “Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy by 2050: A National Blueprint for the Buildings Sector.”

In the report, the DOE outlines four key strategic objectives for our industry: 1. Increase building energy efficiency.

2. Accelerate onsite emissions reductions.

3. Transform the “grid edge."

4. Minimize embodied lifecycle emissions.

What does this mean for us? It means that a new leaf is turning, and with this, new opportunities will open to align our industry with a higher purpose and mission, should we choose to accept it: Achieve increasing levels of efficiency and performance in the way we design, build, and operate our homes.

Honestly, the technologies and tools to do this are right here in our lap, but we continue to resist the temptation to use them to our advantage. Why? Because we would have to change, and change is hard. In fact, it’s impossible for some of us, even when it makes sense to do it. There are ALWAYS reasons not to change, to stick with what we know because, if we change, it COULD get worse! But it could get better too. How do we know? We need leadership to show us the way. We need pioneers, entrepreneurs, and heroes to forge into the wilderness of uncertainty and pave a path for the rest of us. Who will be these leaders of carbon-free homes? Is it you?


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