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New Energy Efficiency Impact Report reveals stalled progress in energy efficiency results


December 17, 2019
By Megan Hoegler

The Alliance to Save Energy from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy has released a new report.

The Energy Efficiency Impact Report, which quantifies the impact efficiency investments have had on productivity, the economy and the environment in the U.S., is now at a stall-risk.

According to the report, investments made since 1980 have prevented a 60 per cent increase in energy consumption and carbon emissions and are responsible for half of the carbon dioxide emissions reductions in the U.S. power sector since 2005. It also highlights the six most impactful policies – fuel economy standards, appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards, ENERGY STAR, utility sector efficiency programs, federal research and development, and building energy codes – which have saved an estimated 25 quadrillion BTUs of energy in 2017, equal to 23 per cent of total U.S. energy use.

Total energy consumption by commercial buildings, 2003-2012.

Despite these successes, energy efficiency is at a stall-risk unless new technologies and smarter energy management policies are implemented.

Energy efficiency improvements using existing technologies alone could deliver more than 40 per cent of the carbon reductions globally to meet Paris Agreement climate targets, and fully half of emissions reductions needed in the U.S. But the U.S. is not on this track to achieve these reductions, and even risks sliding backward, the report says.

While federal spending on energy efficiency has increased slightly from 2016 to 2018, estimated total domestic energy efficiency investment levels have fallen by 18 per cent, the report warns. Energy intensity in the U.S. – the ratio of energy use to economic output – worsened slightly in 2018.

“There’s no question that greater energy and carbon reductions are technically and economically feasible through more ambitious action on energy efficiency, the question is will we treat this with the urgency it deserves,” said Clay Nesler, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, in a release. “This report shows that energy efficiency has been, and must continue to be, the leading solution to address the worsening climate emergency while simultaneously growing our economy and improving the health of our communities.”

“We need robust investments in energy-efficient appliances, buildings, vehicles, and industrial plants.”said Steve Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in a release.

The new report uses 54 indicators to quantify energy efficiency impacts, drawing primarily on data from federal and international sources. It examines efficiency progress in a wide variety of sectors including utilities, buildings, industry, and transportation, and explores the impacts of policy and other market tools used to incentivize energy efficiency.

The full report has been published on www.energyefficiencyimpact.org 


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