A green house amid gray houses
A green house amid gray houses - 
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Renita Jablonski: Today, Congress will examine whether better building policies can significantly reduce the nation's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without breaking the bank. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.

Sam Eaton: U.S. buildings pump out about 40 percent of the nation's total greenhouse gases and consume 70 percent of its electricity. Many argue even modest changes to building codes could yield significant reductions in CO2 emissions, and it's a lot cheaper than building new power plants. Michelle Moore with the U.S. Green Building Council is scheduled to testify today before the House Global Warming committee.

Michelle Moore: It's not only a place where you can make tremendous gains at virtually no cost. In many cases, it actually has a net positive impact to the bottom line.

Moore says buildings certified as green use about 32 percent less electricity, yet only a tenth of new construction incorporates energy-saving measures. San Francisco could soon become the first city in the nation to require most new buildings to adopt features like solar panels and low-flow water fixtures. On a national level, Moore says Congress needs to expand tax incentives to encourage green building.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

Follow Sam Eaton at @eatonsam