Seattle University Law School, Seattle Journal for Environmental Law SJEL, Environmental Law, Energy Efficiency, Greenhouse Gas, GHG


Energy consumption in buildings is on the rise and represents almost half of the total greenhouse gas emissions in cities, which are the main cause of global warming on the planet. There is a great scien-tific consensus that improving energy efficiency of building systems and operations is a very effective way to tackle this important prob-lem. However, despite the fact that the existing building stock has the greatest potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction, most laws and regulations have focused primarily on new buildings. Hence, im-proving energy efficiency in existing buildings represents a great op-portunity for reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Numer-ous measures to increase efficiency and decrease emissions have been put in place in Europe and in the United States with Europe taking the lead, but there is still much to be done. The measures are diverse and range from conventional approaches to innovative mar-ket-based instruments. Although different proposed methods are sim-ilar to some extent, they are tailored to the specific characteristics of each region. Based on the European experience, this article seizes the opportunity to fill in the existing gap on the energy upturn of the existing building stock, giving some useful elements to legal profes-sionals in order to improve the measures developed throughout the Unites States.