I was really inspired by these two lectures given by Amory Lovins at Stanford this past March. Amroy talks about how we can build and renovate buildings to be more energy efficient, and environmentally friendly buy looking beyond a simple cost benefit analysis on a single part of a renovation. For example you might spend more on insulation and energy saving windows and in a building, but be able to more than offset the cost of the insulation and more expensive windows by needing a smaller furnace because the building looses less heat now. That is just one small example of many from the podcasts.
Rather than entailing higher construction costs, smartly designed and renovated buildings can often actually cost less, a phenomenon Lovins refers to as “tunneling through the cost barrier”. Amory talks about potential gains through air conditioning, lighting and heating, and through innovative design of lamps, windows, and ducts. “Imaginative design is not rocket science, and requires most of all that we decide to do things in ways that we are not used to.”