Regional and State Standards Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Article excerpt

Scientists believe climate change is a result of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere. Some greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, occur naturally and are emitted to the atmosphere through natural processes and human activities, while others are created and emitted solely through human activities. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), commercial buildings account for 18 percent of our nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent years, public interest in climate change has increased dramatically; this has led to an increase in related legislation. Recognizing the serious issues related to global warming, IREM supports the development of voluntary standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One option for reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is a program called emissions trading, or "cap and trade." Under this approach, a government agency will typically set a limit on the amount of pollutants a company or organization can emit. Each company will be allocated a number of credits equal to its limit. Companies that reduce their emissions below the threshold can then sell or trade their credits to companies that exceed the cap.

Providing an economic incentive, in the form of credits, would encourage energy-efficiency improvements and assist in paying for those upgrades. IREM supports market-based incentives for energy efficiency. Further, IREM supports federal funding of a cost/benefit analysis and research into the feasibility of an emissions trading program for the real estate industry.

Other notable developments include:

* Regional Initiatives. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort by 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to design a regional cap and trade program covering carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the region. …