Several studies have recently been released addressing sustainability in U.S. buildings. While the general analysis is that commercial facilities in the United States are getting both Greener and more sustainable, the statistics particular to sustainability often go unreported or overlooked.
Because of this, the Sustainability Dashboard Tool, a web-based system that allows building owners and managers to track, monitor, and report sustainability metrics, provides some of the most recent facts and figures about U.S. facilities and sustainability.
- There are 46 billion square feet of building space in the United States.
- Of these buildings, 72 percent were constructed before 1980 (when there was far less awareness or concern about sustainability, energy costs, or global warming).
- By 2050, at least half of these buildings will still be in use, representing considerable potential for sustainability upgrades.
- Upgrading the energy efficiency of all U.S. buildings could save $1 trillion over the next decade.
- Widespread adoption of energy-efficient measures in U.S. buildings could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these facilities by 10 percent per year and generate more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs.
- The average return on investment of energy-efficient projects exceeds 20 percent.
- Conventional (relatively minor) retrofits to older buildings can produce an operating cost savings of 20 percent
- Deep (major) retrofits to older buildings can reduce energy consumption and costs by as much as 75 percent.
“These studies tell us two things,” says Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools. “First, we have a lot of work to do, but second, there are lots of benefits to doing it, from reducing operating costs, to generating over three million jobs, to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Ashkin adds that we should view the current situation of older buildings as an opportunity, not only for the environment but our economy as well.