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I agree with the previous comment by "nrgrater". The biggest challenge for us is the existing building stock, and if we don't address it as a priority, we will only be making marginal improvements. This is especially important for the City of Knoxville, since most of the building stock that will exist within the city limits in the next couple of decades is already here. That is particularly true of single family housing stock. Most of these houses, even those that are not that well built, will be with us for many decades.
Our greatest potential for adding new housing capacity, and also adding non-housing building square footage, will be through redeveloping our commercial arterial corridors into mixed use developments. The buildings that result from such redevelopment should certainly meet higher standards such as LEED or Energy Star, but that's only part of the equation.
Equally important, if not more so, will be how such new development affects our transportation networks. Denser, more people friendly mixed use developments that require less vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will have an even greater impact on energy use and environmental quality.
I've addressed these issues from both perspectives. Long ago I served as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Solar Energy Association, and I worked for quite a few years before and after that doing hands-on work in the field of energy efficiency and solar applications. Now, I'm attempting to attack the problem of a somewhat dysfunctional transportation and land use system head on. Both facets are important, and we can't afford to focus on either one to the exclusion of the other.
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