UNEP, United Nations Environment Program, sponsors the Sustainable Building and Construction Initiative, or SBCI, that recently issued an eye-opening report about global warming and what role the building industry plays in it. The sector alone accounts for 30-40% of global energy use, a significant amount. It should also be mentioned that the U.S. Green Building Council is a strong supporter of SBCI, so we're closely working with the international community to address the deteriorating situation.
Most energy is consumed during the use of the structures, that is houses, condominium towers, townhouses, office buildings, plants, for cooling, heating, ventilation, lighting and some other applications, and not during the construction phase. That's an important distinction. It's about 80% during use vs. 20% while under construction.
Now that the origins to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been identified, we can begin to look for solutions. Many of them are very simple, everyday stuff. Thermal insulation is relatively easy to install, solar shading can make a considerable difference, particularly here in Las Vegas, and energy efficient appliances are readily available at your local department store. This is only to start the conversation.
Another solution is the demise of the wasteful incandescent light bulb that has received a lot of press lately. A compact fluorescent bulb is elbowing in to take its place. And the sooner, the better. Here's why. In a global switch to the fluorescent bulb now, by 2010 that would amount in CO2 savings of about 470 million tons. I know it's just a huge number. Probably impresses these environmental experts more than us here in the real estate business, but I'll take their word for it.
Everybody has to get on board to make any forthcoming changes bear real fruit. Homeowners, developers, builders, property owners, architects, governments on all levels, tenants, energy suppliers. Everybody.