Bubil: Efficiency is best energy solution


Harold Bubil is on vacation. This “Letter From Home” first appeared on April 25, 2009.

Did you know that climate change is not real? That it is a scam concocted by scientists so that they can get more research-grant money, which they then spend taking their families on vacation?

Did you also know that the liberal media, in the orbit of the Gores and Clintons and Obamas, plays along in the hope that gloom-and-doom stories will sell more newspapers? (It is not working, by the way.)

And did you know that 40 years ago, some scientists were concerned about the threat of global cooling, and because they were wrong then, a new generation of scientists is wrong now about global warming, because the Earth actually has been cooling for 10 years?

Well, if you did not know these things, you have not been reading the reader responses posted at the bottom of climate change-related news stories that are published on Internet sites, such as AOL.com.

I expect that this column will elicit e-mails from a few intelligent and earnest readers who insist that climate change is a natural process rather than man-made, and that trying to control carbon emissions will do nothing but wreck the economy.

I respect these people, but their arguments are beside the point from my perspective. I am not a tree-hugger, but a wallet-hugger, and, cheapskate that I am, I like going green for the money it can save. As for saving the world from excessive levels of greenhouse gases, the U.S. must lead the way, but if India and China don't follow, it won't much matter.

Most of this viewpoint was reinforced Wednesday (April 21, 2009) in Venice at the Community Conversation on Energy and Climate. Keynote speaker Phil Fairey, deputy director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, made a convincing argument that energy efficiency, not conservation or alternative fuels, is the key to coming to grips with the energy issue.

“Efficiency is very different from conservation,” said Fairey, preaching to the choir at the Venice Community Center. “Efficiency means you get exactly the same level of service with less energy. Conservation means you are willing to settle for a little bit less energy service. We have in our technological bag of tricks right now lots and lots of efficiency that is not being deployed.

“It is not turning off lights and being dark and cold. It is simply getting much more out of a kilowatt hour that we are used to. We can be 40 percent more efficient in new homes today, cost-effectively.”

As a penny saved is a penny earned, a kilowatt saved is one that does not have to be generated at a fossil fuel-burning power plant. Florida is leading the way here, with progressively tougher building codes that will make new homes, by 2019, 50 percent more efficient than those built to code in 2007.

But the real efficiencies will come from retrofitting Florida's 8.5 million existing homes.

“We can save 30 percent cost-effectively. You get all of your money back. In fact, you are actually making money by making the buildings more efficient,” said Fairey.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: April 6, 2013
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