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Why Building Codes Could Be Key in Reducing State’s Climate Impact

In the fight against climate change, attention often gravitates towards shiny solar panels, spinning wind turbines, rapid electric vehicles, advanced clean hydrogen electrolyzers, and other innovative technologies.

According to MPR News, but experts say changes in building codes, the obscure, wonky, highly-technical rules that govern how our homes and apartment buildings are designed and constructed, can play an outsized role in reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions — especially when multiplied over thousands of new homes, year after year.

Simply by adopting the latest model energy code, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that Minnesota could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 9 million metric tons, and save an estimated $1 billion in energy costs.

While Minnesota has made huge progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in electricity generation, the state’s buildings still consume an enormous amount of energy, and now contribute about 40 percent of the state’s climate-warming emissions.

“Part of the challenge that we face is that residential emissions are still rising. We are still adding more climate warming emissions from the residential sector,” said Eric Fowler, senior policy associate with the clean energy advocacy group Fresh Energy.

Emissions from homes and buildings grew 14 percent in the past 15 years, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency — largely because most buildings in the state are heated by natural gas or oil.

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