Nuts to that: Engineers working on the Empire State Building have a plan to cut the building's energy use by 40%, reduce its carbon footprint by 105,000 metric tons, and save $4.4 million a year, largely with better insulation:
Given the regal stature of the building, which was completed in 1931, most of the solutions seem relatively mundane. The project sponsors said that half of the energy reductions will result from adding a coated film between two glass panes on the windows and insulating the space between radiators and walls. The building's cold water, ventilation and light systems also will be improved.
Many estimates place the operation of buildings as responsible for 50 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. In big cities, that percentage can be higher. In New York, for instance, 78 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the city's buildings [Bob Selna, "Empire State Building Goes Green the Retro Way," San Francisco Chronicle, 2009.11.06].
No carbon sequestration, no fusion reactors, just better building materials that you can probably get at Home Depot. Boy, keep retrofitting skyscrapers and prairie buildings with tech like that, and we'll never need to build another coal-fired plant again.
And you folks thought fighting climate change would be hard. We have the tools to fight climate change right now. It's just a question of finding the will to change the way we build and do other business... and passing a little legislation to urge that will along in the marketplace.