Net Zero, Fossil-Free Greenhouse Gas Emission Buildings, ASAP
~ Lon Dickerson, Sacred Earth Matters
The Earth is Sacred – Not Ours to Wreck
We recall fondly the smell of wood-burning fireplaces in our neighborhoods, and we’re comfortable with our natural gas furnaces. In many regards, we’ve become like NIMBYs in terms of weaning ourselves from the use of fossil fuels.
Sure, we’re pleased the legislature adopted HB 1257 last April and the 2020 State Energy Code requires that buildings constructed from 2013 through 2031 move incrementally toward a 70% reduction in energy use by 2031. Although its focus is new construction requirements for commercial buildings, it’s a step forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Seattle has adopted a tax on heating oil and will likely adopt a ban on natural gas piping systems in new buildings, including houses. With any luck, the governor and state legislators might be persuaded to adopt such bans statewide.
But we must do more.
Making such mandates retroactive to existing commercial and residential structures will require massive financial incentives. HB 1257 provides some tax credits to the owners of commercial buildings, and minuscule energy tax credits are still available on our federal income taxes. But where are the huge subsidies for dealing with the climate crisis that coal and gas providers, and farmer receive?
The business sector could do more to help us transition. Utility companies provide some rebates to make our homes more energy efficient, and consumers should demand more from them. Puget Power, for example, has to become more of a facilitator instead of an obstruction.
Bottom line: what’s happening is too little, too late.
UCUCC as a church and as individual members, have committed ourselves to making decisions of integrity in our energy choices. We accept that combating global warming is a moral imperative and that it is up to us to commit our time, financial resources, and prayers to saving our sacred earth.
One of our goals should be net zero buildings with zero net energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. According to the book Drawdown, net zero buildings are “a mosaic of separate solutions.”
We know about the benefits of LED lighting, smart thermostats, and building insulation.
Most of us need to learn more about: induction stoves (better than gas), electrochromic or smart glass, and heat pumps. Drawdown says heat pumps are the one technology that stands out from the rest since they can supply heating, cooling, and hot water from one integrated unit. More importantly, they can eliminate all greenhouse emissions if powered by renewable energy.
So, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.