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EESI's policy director for high performance green buildings, Ellen Vaughan, and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities' senior counsel and director of energy programs, James H. Turner Jr., proposed a "Blueprint for Advancing High-Performance Homes" in the Winter 2012 issue of Issues in Science and Technology. Vaughan and Turner argue that even in today’s harsh housing market, high-performance homes make sense for everyone: for residents, the nation, and the environment. And it makes sense to take strong action quickly, since most homes will be around decades from now. The sooner they are made more sustainable, the better.
Making homes more energy efficient and reducing their environmental impact is a priority, since "carbon emissions from the housing sector are at several times sustainability levels." But sustainability also involves reducing water use, improving indoor air quality, increasing safety, making homes more suitable for the elderly and handicapped, and, last but not least, making them more affordable to buy and maintain. We already know how to achieve many of these goals in a cost effective way. High-performance buildings, including homes that come close to economic, environmental, and social sustainability, have been built. The trick is to disseminate this knowledge to the broader market where it can truly make a difference. Vaughan and Turner propose several policy prescriptions, arguing that "Tough times are also innovative times, and when past ways of doing business were not working well, the nation and its people have traditionally looked for change. Today’s economic pause is an ideal time to think about how to optimize the housing sector, by reducing costs through eliminating wasteful practices, by adopting best practices from manufacturing, and by unleashing the power of information technology." Read the full article on Issues in Science and Technology's website. Download the article in PDF format.