I've gathered the main points of interest, in my humble estimation, however, take a deeper look, as I may have erred:
"Since energy efficiency and pollution are largely a function of design, we could hold our designers to higher standards. For example, architects would not be able to get or renew their licenses unless they could demonstrate an understanding of total insulation systems. Building permits could not be issued unless the insulation details were specified in the plans and met VERY high standards.
"Finally, new buildings could not be granted a mortgage unless they met strict energy requirements as indicated by thermal imaging and leak-down tests. The home buyer may only be interested in bathroom wallpaper but society as a whole has a HUGE interest in the structure’s energy consumption and should enforce these interests with lending standards."
What every Progressive MUST know
Energy efficiency is the goal of every sane person on earth. What’s not to like? If energy is used more efficiently it solves pollution problems, foreign policy dilemmas, balance of trade issues, etc.
So why aren’t energy efficiency problems being meaningfully addressed? It is tempting to look around for bad guys--oil industry executives, automobile manufacturers and their unions, spineless legislators, the advertising business, insane tax policy, etc.
Since energy efficiency is obviously a worthy goal, it is necessary for folks to understand just why it is so difficult to achieve. If we do not understand the real problems, then any solution we progressives can offer will fail--along with any credibility we might have as political leadership.
Public policy implications
Progressives who believe that the easiest way to solve the problems created by a petroleum based economy is to pass legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards, are likely to be disappointed with the results. There are no magic technological bullets that will much lower energy consumption.
This true for a host of foundation technologies, not merely automobiles but electric motors, aircraft engines, household furnaces, etc. We are up against limits imposed by nature itself. Not only has the low-hanging fruit been plucked, but some very high stuff as well. At some point, legislating higher efficiency standards in hope of producing a desirable outcome becomes foolish.
Ultimately, energy efficiency is a function of DESIGN
In between the decorators and the engineers are the industrial designers who argue that while good design is aesthetically pleasing, it must incorporate a deep human understanding to increase functionality.
The focus on design when the question is energy efficiency has one overwhelmingly important reason--it is almost impossible to change the energy efficiency of anything that requires energy to operate ONCE IT HAS BEEN BUILT.
Probably the most significant contributor to increased energy consumption in USA over the past 50 years is urban sprawl. This is a problem that no drive to increase energy-efficiency is likely to solve because the only way to increase the energy efficiency of a city once it has been built would be to move buildings around.
Using those large frontal lobes
Recognizing that design determines energy efficiency and overall consumption suggests a whole range of policy options that have a far greater chance for success than merely mandating higher standards.
The solution to ALL these problems in astonishing simple because almost no one uses rafters these days. (The replacement is the engineered truss and its use is so widespread that VERY few carpenters even know HOW to cut rafters any longer.) With an engineered truss, there is absolutely no reason why there should even be a rafter / wall intersection.
The lessons learned
I have known about this insulation solution for almost 30 years. I have never had a truss builder say anything but “No problem” whenever I have asked if such trusses could be built. Yet I have actually seen this done less than 10 times in my whole life. The question is WHY?
It’s not my problem. Unless an architect or designer specifies this kind of roof / insulation construction, no one considers it.
The preservation of archaic traits. Rafters intersect with walls. It has been that way for centuries, why change now?
Who cares? Most homes are built for retail sale.
So a simple, cost-effective way to reduce major amounts of carbon emissions goes unused. This doesn’t require new technology or a major investment and yet it isn’t implemented because of social habits. Yet it precisely this realization that can guide public policy.
Since energy efficiency and pollution are largely a function of design, we could hold our designers to higher standards. For example, architects would not be able to get or renew their licenses unless they could demonstrate an understanding of total insulation systems. Building permits could not be issued unless the insulation details were specified in the plans and met VERY high standards.
Finally, new buildings could not be granted a mortgage unless they met strict energy requirements as indicated by thermal imaging and leak-down tests. The home buyer may only be interested in bathroom wallpaper but society as a whole has a HUGE interest in the structure’s energy consumption and should enforce these interests with lending standards.
Energy efficiency talking points
Read more at www.elegant-technology.com
1) The bigger the energy user, the more important the need for social constraints. It is more important to regulate the energy consumption of cars than of TV sets, houses than cars, or cityscapes than houses. Good city planning is by far the most important element of any drive for higher energy efficiency.
2) There are no magic bullets. Increased energy efficiency will result from thousands of little changes--NOT from some grand idea.
3) Energy efficiency is determined by the laws of nature. Anyone who claims efficiency improvements that cannot be explained using basic physics should be ignored like any other charlatan.
4) Since the laws of nature cannot be altered through human legislation, the social desire for greater energy efficiency can only be assisted through legislation that provides for design and research funding, mandates minimum standards based on what is physically possible, or addresses social issues like land use planning.
5) Design and planning is extremely important. Just remember, once something has been built, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to change the amount of energy it consumes. For example, while it may be possible to mitigate the some of the consequences of sprawling a city over precious surrounding farmland such as with telecommuting, it would be MUCH wiser to avoid such disastrous decisions in the first place.