Have you read the National Climate Assessment? It is sobering

Have you seen the most recent National Climate Assessment (NCA).  If you haven’t, let me tell you, it’s sobering.  It details the current impacts and projected effects of global warming across the United States, laying  out the effects of climate change on a range of geographic regions and economic sectors.  The NCA  website offers interactive tools to help anyone see how climate change will affect their life, their community and their country. The document really is easy to understand and navigate.

In the United States nearly
40% of energy is used on
residential and
commercial buildings.

Two energy efficiency related key points from the report that really stuck with me were these:

  • Carbon dioxide accounted for 84% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2011. Ninety seven percent of this CO2 comes from energy use. Thus, the most direct way to reduce future climate change is to reduce emissions from the energy sector by using energy more efficiently and switching to lower carbon energy sources.
  • In 2011, 41% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions were attributable to liquid fuels (petroleum), followed closely by solid fuels (principally coal in electric generation), and to a lesser extent by natural gas. Electric power generation (coal and gas) and transportation (petroleum) are the sectors predominantly responsible.

What does this mean?  It means we need to reduce energy consumption!  And we need to do it now.  We need to use this report as  leverage.  In the words of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Kathryn Sullivan “We all have to come together and turn these words into actions. ”   Most of us know that there are many ways that we can each take action.  At Chuckanut Builders we think of buildings and homes first, because that’s what we do. We improve the performance of buildings.  We make them more efficient, durable, comfortable and healthy.

So what is the next step?  If you haven’t already, complete an energy assessment with the Community Energy Challenge.  Find out what steps you can take to improve the building performance of your home.  Then, find a contractor and take those steps!  For those of you that have already completed an energy assessment and made your home more efficient (kudos!), have you considered getting solar panels?  Or upgrading your heating system? Or installing a rain garden?  Have you told your friends, neighbors, and family about the importance of weatherizing their homes?  In the United States nearly 40% of energy is used on residential and commercial buildings; we need to reduce that number.

The focus has shifted.  We are no longer asking, “Is climate changing?”  The question has become, “Can society manage unavoidable changes and avoid unmanageable changes?”  I think, and hope, that the answer is that we are going to have to both mitigate and adapt.  Weatherizing your home will help you, personally, do both.  You will reduce the amount of energy that your family is consuming and your home will be more durable and comfortable during extreme weather events.  We know that weatherizing homes in Bellingham is just a drop in the bucket.  But reading about how climate change is impacting the Pacific Northwest makes me want to take action.  I need to.  So I’m asking, suggesting, that we take action together.  Contact the Community Energy Challenge to schedule an energy assessment, call Ecotech to see if solar makes sense for your home and tell your friends, family and neighbors about the importance of weatherizing their homes.

More information about the NCA report:

National Climate Report is a Study in Extremes by Time Magazine 

U.S. Climate Has Already Changed by New York Times