Monika Griefahn, Brooks Rainwater and Kurt Shickman discuss the obstacles and opportunities of retrofitting old buildings to make them more energy efficient, and the different approaches used in Germany and the United States.
Today, buildings account for 70 percent of all U.S. electricity consumption and 40 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Yet much of our housing and building stock is old, inefficient, and unnecessarily wasteful. Any strategy to capture the benefits of energy efficiency in our “built environment” must include a program to retrofit our existing stock of residential, commercial and industrial structures.
Retrofitting the existing building stock is a rare win-win-win policy: it creates clean energy jobs for our nation’s skilled construction workers and at U.S. manufacturing facilities, it benefits homeowners through comfort and energy efficient improvements to their homes, and it helps the environment through long-term energy efficiency gains.
Unfortunately, there are obstacles to recognizing potential efficiency gains. Thoughtful public policy must be implemented in order to incentivize this important endeavor.
BIO: Monika Griefahn
Monika Griefahn is a German politician of the SPD (since 1992) from Mülheim. Since 1998 she has been a member of the German Bundestag.
Griefahn co-founded Greenpeace Germany in 1980, leading its Hamburg office for ten years. From 1984 through 1990 she was a member of the board of directors of Greenpeace International.
She studied math and social sciences in Göttingen and Hamburg and graduated with a diploma in 1979. She is married to chemist Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart and has three children.
BIO: Kurt Shickman
Kurt Shickman is the Director of Research for EFC. He received his Masters degree with a focus on Energy Policy and Economics in 2007 from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Prior to SAIS, Mr. Shickman worked in consulting and corporate finance for several international firms including Royal Ahold, MCI Worldcom, and Federal Realty Investment Trust.
BIO: Brooks Rainwater
Brooks Rainwater is the American Institute of Architecture's director of Local Relations. As director, Brooks is responsible for advancing the Institute's and the architecture profession's goals at the local level by promoting the AIA's public policies and empowering local components to effectively manage their legislative, regulatory, and legal efforts.
Previously Brooks worked as a research associate for the Artemis Group LLC. Prior to that, he interned with the North Carolina Smart Growth Alliance in the area of rural development policy. Brooks earned the Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also holds a Master's of Public Administration degree from the George Washington University.
BIO: Knut Panknin
Knut Panknin joined the FES as a Program Officer in June 2004. He received his M.A. in Political Science - focusing on U.S. foreign and domestic policy, Linguistics, and Philosophy from the Georg August University in Göttingen, Germany. Prior to his position at the FES, he worked in a European study program at the Center for European and North American Studies at the University of Göttingen.