27th February 2011
‘Progressives’ and other hipsters want us all to live in dense urban cores. Well, there are problems with that….
Gas forced air is the standard heating solution for new construction in Chicago and much of the Midwest. This may not apply to the largest buildings, but certainly to single family homes and most of the new construction condos in Chicago. Being able to upgrade building systems is key to energy efficiency, because buildings are the number one source of carbon emissions. In the city of Chicago, about 70% of all carbon emissions come from buildings. And while multi-unit buildings may be inherently more efficient in some regards, they create huge challenges for upgrades because of all the shared infrastructure and lack of access to the roof, exterior walls, and utility feeds. This might not apply in some cases where there is, for example, a shared boiler where one upgrade takes care of all units. But for most new construction condos outside of high rises, I strongly suspect they were built without energy efficient furnaces and in a way that effectively precludes upgrading to current technology.