Letter: Require solar on all new residential construction
We are on notice. Scientists are taking the gloves off. They are telling us we have very few years to overhaul society and our economies to put the brakes on global warming. Even the world’s children are taking to the streets to protest the lack of action and the lack of interest. The children understand that their lives are at stake. Practically, our societies need our leadership to change course; internationally, nationally and locally.
Priorities need to change. A case in point is the recently constructed housing for teachers in Carbondale. The school district had a given set of funds for the project. While the buildings used current efficiency standards, the fact remains that they will produce greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. So, at a time when we must reduce total emissions, we are increasing them. In addition, the buildings have no solar collectors. The claim is that they could not fit it in the budget. Collectors would provide essentially free energy and have reduced at least some of the non-green energy they consume; which would have reduced their emissions.
The school district had other choices. They could have built fewer units to allow for net-zero construction. The could have constructed an apartment building instead of townhomes. Apartment buildings can be less per square foot and much more efficient in many ways. They could have bought existing apartments and no new emissions would be needed. They could have paid the teachers a housing allowance and let them find their own accommodations. Or they could have given their entire staff a raise to allow them to live in the existing economy.
A recent discussion took place around adding a universal requirement for solar collectors on all new buildings. Leaders present expressed reservations about requiring collectors on affordable housing. Their concern was that the perceived extra cost would reduce the housing that might be built. In this case, there is a dichotomy between a desire to add housing and a desire to be climate conscious. Again, how can we rationalize the construction of new buildings that will add to the already critical problem of a climate Armageddon.
This valley’s communities all have climate and energy plans. I’m willing to bet that none of the goals for emissions will be met. Every community has projects going up and many in the pipeline. None of these will be net zero and be fossil fuel free.
Back to priorities. The priority of this valley is profit producing economic activity. Promises to do better are lies to cover their tails. The state of California now requires solar on all new residential. We can’t?
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