Study plugs energy efficiency
A first-of-its-kind study attempting to quantify the effects of energy-efficiency measures shows that, despite significant market growth, the U.S. energy-efficiency market remains widely untapped. The study, published by energy policy think tank, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) with support from the Civil Society Institute, notes that while energy-efficiency investments are now three times larger than investments in traditional energy resources, totaling $300 billion in 2004, the investment opportunities in efficiency is immense.
"Energy efficiency is the least understood resource, and is seriously overlooked as an economic resource and economic opportunity," said John Laitner, ACEEE's director of economic analysis and a co-author of the report, in a May press briefing.
Because they are largely spread out between many buildings and homes, energy efficiency measures have long gone unquantified, noted ACEEE director Steven Nadel in his opening remarks during the press briefing. "As a nation, we don't do a good job of collecting data for the energy we don't use," Laitner added, noting the main goal of the report.
The report concludes that if policy makers and business tapped into the full potential of the opportunities the energy-efficiency industry presents, it could reach $700 billion by 2020. If such market transformation happened, the United States could cost-effectively reduce energy consumption by 25 to 30 percent in the next 20 to 25 years, according to the report.
The building industry, which has in recent years embraced high-performance building design through rating systems such as Energy Star and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), represents a huge opportunity for efficiency investments. The study found that while the buildings sector accounts for 39 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, it received 62 percent of total efficiency investments in 2004.