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To drill or not to drill is not the question

Renewable resources abound. Let's use them.

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To drill or not to drill is the wrong question.

Real solutions to the energy and climate crisis are available today if we focus on what we have in abundance instead of arguing over what's exhaustible and dwindling – namely fossil fuels.

Emphasizing efficiency and renewables, in that order, is already working in the building sector, which is demonstrating how we can change for the better by changing the way we think.

There are plenty of opportunities to meet energy demand through efficiency.

Buildings represent almost 40 percent of US energy consumption and an equivalent percentage of CO2 emissions – more than automobiles or industry.

We have the ability to offset 85 percent of America's incremental electricity needs in 2030 through building and appliance efficiency measures that save more money than they cost to implement, as McKinsey & Co. articulated in "Reducing US Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?"

These solutions – simple things, such as retrofitting commercial buildings, weatherizing our homes, and using energy-efficient appliances – challenge every American and every American business to act. The immediate reward: We improve our bottom line. Already, more than 24,000 homes, schools, and offices are registered with the US Green Building Council's LEED rating system.

Research shows that the average additional cost for new LEED-certified buildings is less than 2 percent of total project costs, and that those costs are repaid within the first 12 months of occupancy through operational savings. For example, Adobe Systems spent $1.4 million greening three LEED Platinum office towers at their headquarters in San Jose, Calif. The investment was fully paid back in just 10 months through energy, water, and other operating efficiencies.

We know renewable energy is limitless. But to put it in stark terms; the earth gets enough solar power every 40 minutes to meet the whole world's energy demand for a full year. Wind power and geothermal resources are similarly capable of providing for our needs.

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