Equitable Decarbonization will rely on scores of committed partners

Nov 6, 2020
Mike Bull

“Equitable decarbonization of the building sector is needed to meet the urgent climate challenge, requiring the transformation of energy systems, consumer options, and trades workforce — a transition akin to the massive mobilization of capital in the post-war period in the U.S.”

That sentence opens CEE's 2040 Vision for Equitable Decarbonization of the Building Sector, newly posted to our website. In creating and publishing our 2040 Vision, we have three goals:

  1. To guide our work in helping foster the future we need, for our internal accountability;
  2. To explain our related work, actions and policy advocacy to partners and allies; and finally
  3. To find or forge significant common ground for research, policy, and programs to work on in collaboration with partners and allies.

After a tumultuous spring in the Twin Cities and around the nation, Jenny Edwards, our director of planning and engagement, convened colleagues from all over CEE. She gathered co-workers with strong technical backgrounds and deep customer experience, as well as those who work with communities and policymakers, to brainstorm about where we collectively think the building sector can be by 2040 to help mitigate the climate crisis.

That question led to powerful conversations that underscored the need for an energy economy with cost-effective, practical solutions that promote prosperity for all. It felt particularly critical to create such a long-term vision during a year filled with so much stress and uncertainty for so many communities. For those facing hardships and those who serve them, our 2040 Vision is meant to serve as a challenge and an inspiration:

"By 2040, we are well beyond the tipping point of a full transition to a decarbonized economy, confident that an economy powered by a decarbonized electric system and decarbonized gaseous fuels is within our grasp. Very efficient electric systems are increasingly the primary source of heat in homes and businesses, and the technicians necessary to work on them are well trained and available statewide. The indoor spaces where people spend most of their time — homes, businesses, schools — are quieter, healthier, and more comfortable, and indoor air quality has improved significantly. We have increased access to efficient home cooling to mitigate the burden of extreme heat events on low-income communities, which includes many communities of color.”

As much as we recognize how difficult it will be to achieve this Vision, we also deeply understand how urgent it is to do so. To make this Vision a reality, we will work with partners and allies, old and new, while amplifying diverse voices that can help us put these thoughts into action.

We close our 2040 Vision with a call to action, committing to several critical areas of work where CEE will put our collective shoulder to the wheel. But in addition to our efforts, decarbonizing the building sector is a monumental and essential task that will take scores of committed organizations and individuals — all pulling on the same end of the rope — to accomplish. As articulated in the Vision:

“This transition has happened because of coordination, foresight, market innovation, and commitment to the public good. It has generated trillions of dollars of investment in buildings and infrastructure and reduced energy imports, all of which has built local industry and made communities healthier and safer.”

Let’s all work together to make it so.