American Chemistry MattersA Blog of the American Chemistry Council

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Chemistry can help save energy in NYC buildings

This week’s announcement by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio that he wants to dramatically boost energy efficiency in the city’s buildings has garnered a lot of attention. His plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions calls for expanding the use of renewable energy sources, such as an 8-fold increase in private solar generation, and improving energy efficiency through upgrades and retrofits.

Innovations in chemistry will play a critical role in any initiative to save energy in buildings. An ACC study found that building insulation alone can save up to 40 times the energy used to manufacture it. Solar power relies on silicon-based chemistry, and innovative new plastic solar panels are poised to reach the mass residential market.

These and other chemistry and plastics solutions are vital since buildings represent 32 percent of global energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency.

Mayor de Blasio and the Big Apple may have snagged headlines this week, but states also have an important role to play when it comes to maximizing energy efficiency. By adopting, implementing, and enforcing the latest International Energy Conservation Code and by passing laws that automatically adopt updated codes, states can dramatically reduce energy use and realize significant economic and environmental benefits.

And Congress must pass the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 2074), also known as the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill, which would yield cost-effective energy savings in buildings and elsewhere.

ACC supports a comprehensive national energy strategy that develops all of America’s own energy resources—conventional and shale natural gas, oil, wind, nuclear, solar, etc.—while also promoting energy efficiency and alternative sources, such as energy recovery.

Working together, cities and states can drive greater adoption of energy efficient technologies that enable innovation, provide cost savings, and reduce emissions.

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