Buildings, Infrastructure and Housing

Buildings icon

Read the Draft Recommendations (PDF)

Download the Presentation Slides (PDF)

Meet the Working Group Members


About Buildings, Infrastructure and Housing

Heating, cooling and lighting of buildings is responsible for 30 percent of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions. Residential homes emit 19 percent of Maine's emissions; commercial buildings are 11 percent.

Many of the 550,000 existing homes in Maine are aging and inefficient, with 56 percent having been built before 1980. Approximately 20,000 homes since 2010 have been weatherized -- through methods such as added insulation, air sealing and window replacement -- to increase efficiency, reduce heating bills, and decrease emissions.


Watch the Buildings, Infrastructure and Housing Strategies:

 


Maine's 61 percent of homes heated by oil is the highest in the country. New high-performance electric heat pumps are 60 percent more efficient than oil burners. With assistance from Efficiency Maine Trust incentives, 45,000 high performance heat pumps and 25,000 heat pump water heaters have been installed in Maine in the past several years to lower emissions and energy bills.

The most cost-effective time to improve a building's energy efficiency is during construction. New “net zero” efficiency buildings combine energy efficiency and renewable energy generation to create homes with very minimal utility costs and emissions.

"Embodied carbon" describes energy used to create and manufacture building materials. Wood and other bio-based materials provide a double benefit: they have low embodied carbon (compared to steel, many types of insulation, concrete, and fossil fuel based products), they naturally store carbon, and source wood can be regrown to remove more carbon from the atmosphere. Utilizing more wood products, especially those produced in Maine, for building construction has positive climate and economic benefits.


Proposed Strategies

Please note: the summaries below may not reflect the comprehensive details of each proposed strategy, please see the Draft Recommendations file or slides above for a more complete description. 

Improve the design and construction of new buildings: Provide incentives and code requirements that encourage net-zero, renewable energy ready homes and businesses. Provide training to contractors and code enforcement officers to support compliance.

Transition to cleaner heating and cooling systems: Provide incentives to encourage consumers to purchase highly efficient heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and efficient, modern wood heat.

Improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings: Expanded weatherization programs will reduce emissions and save money for homeowners on utility bills through added storm windows, reduction of air leaks, and supplementing insulation.

Promote “Lead by Example” programs in existing and new publicly-funded buildings: This work would be accomplished by requiring best practices in construction, including building materials selection, heating, cooling and lighting systems, and enhanced efficiency and weatherization. These programs will save taxpayers money and show what modern construction materials, systems and practices can achieve to reduce both emissions and the operating costs of state and municipal government buildings, schools, universities, and affordable housing.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes: Support  industrial facilities that shift from carbon-intensive fuels to cleaner alternatives. Expand funding for industrial energy efficiency and fuel switching projects and establish a task force to recommend additional long-term strategies in this sector.

Modernize Maine’s electric grid: Make buildings part of the solution and ensure the state’s electricity system is ready for increased electricity use by the building and transportation sectors as they convert to electricity procured from clean, renewable sources. This includes promoting smaller distributed energy resources like solar panels and battery storage located at homes and businesses. Reduce peak periods of high energy demand on the grid by creating incentives for consumers to use energy at alternative times of the day.


Share your thoughts

After reading these draft strategies, please take a few minutes to tell us what you think, and how you’d prioritize action. Click the icon to take a short survey.