by Justin Gillis, NY Times
One of the great achievements of politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the spread of effective building codes that made our buildings safer and sturdier, and our cities less likely to burn down.
For the last couple of decades we have been using those building codes for an additional purpose: saving energy. The average house or office building constructed today is required to have better windows and insulation than the drafty old buildings we used to put up, so that a new building wastes far less energy over its lifetime.
Making buildings more efficient not only saves consumers money, it is also crucial in the fight against global warming because it cuts the use of fossil fuels. We are a few months away from an election, of sorts, that could tighten our building codes still further.
But forces are already stirring in the land to make sure this vote goes the wrong way. Those forces may be abetted by low voter turnout, which has been a big problem in the past. If history repeats itself this year, the energy policy of the United States may be influenced by fewer than 500 people.
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