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Buildings & Materials

Here’s the deal

Buildings contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through the electricity and energy used to power, heat and cool. In 2017, Georgia’s commercial and residential buildings were responsible for about 30% of the state’s emissions. We know that increasing energy efficiency in existing buildings can reduce electricity and energy demand. Drawdown aims to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings to reduce electricity and energy demand. This category also considers the emissions associated with materials, such as recyclables and hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants.


How do we get there?



Increases in industrial and commercial recycling, increased paper recycling and increased recycling at the community/household level are critical to getting our waste-to-landfill ratio down in Georgia.



Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — the chemicals used to cool refrigerators and air conditioners — are an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Controlling leakages and replacing HFCs with alternative refrigerants as well as properly disposing of existing HFCs is a critical issue globally.



Buildings use electricity and natural gas for heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC), water heating, lighting, and to power appliances and electronic devices — up to 30% of greenhouse gases globally comes from these energy hogs. Retrofitting existing buildings to make them more efficient has tremendous potential to accelerate our progress.

How do we get there?

Here’s where we are

Recycling often uses less energy than producing a new good. Therefore, it is a powerful way to reduce emissions in Georgia. According to UGA Extension, as much as 28% of Georgia’s household waste sent to landfills could be recycled. That’s nearly 2 million tons!

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Here’s where we are

Stories & Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Which industries dominate in Georgia’s building products?

According to the Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia is a leader in paper and pulp products, with an economic output of $13.1 billion in 2018, representing almost 20,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in annual wages and salaries.

Why the focus on refrigerants?

One of the largest contributors to refrigerant leakage in Georgia are grocery and convenience store refrigeration systems. There are 958 grocery stores and over 6,000 gas, drug, and convenience stores in Georgia, accounting for about 1.9 MtCO2e leaked annually. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a class of chemicals used in refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, heat pumps, and to transfer heat in applications found throughout Georgia’s economy. We can find alternatives and manage existing HFCs better -- because 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life, effective disposal of those currently in circulation is essential. After being carefully removed and stored, refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed into other less harmful chemicals.

What is our current recycling rate?

In 2011, Georgia recycled only approximately 0.7 million tons out of 10.6 million tons of MSW, or a recycling rate of about 6.6%. This is significantly below the U.S. average rate of 22.6% reported by the same study (Shin, 2014).

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