WASHINGTON — The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a white paper titled “Energy Efficiency: Is the County Improving?” which examines the overall state of energy efficiency in the United States through the council’s 15 indicators of energy efficiency in the U.S. economy.
Authored by Sara Hayes, Naomi Baum and Garrett Herndon, the paper asks whether the U.S. is moving in the right direction in improving its status as an energy-efficient economy. Last year, the country ranked only ninth out of the world’s 12 largest economies in energy efficiency, according to the 2012 ACEE International Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
“Japan, Germany and China are more committed in their national policies and investments in energy efficiency than the United States. As a result, these nations are poised to produce goods and services at a lower cost,” the authors observed.
The overall status of the 15 energy efficiency indicators — which range from annual savings from electricity and gas efficiency programs to states with updated building codes — shows that the United States has made modest gains in energy efficiency, said the paper.
The following five indicators demonstrated “some meaningful progress,” according to the paper: state energy efficiency program savings, reductions in energy use in residential buildings, standards for fuel economy, building codes and standards for appliances.
This progress is moderate at best, however, the authors cautioned, adding that the county experienced only small or no improvements in seven indicators and a decline in one indicator, combined heat and power in industry.
Together, these indicators paint a picture of an economy that requires more effort at the national level to better its energy efficiency. For example, the federal government can still provide greater encouragement and incentives to states to improve their buildings, the paper reported, although it has adopted model building codes.
In discussing the lack of improvement in public transit usage, a more efficient means of travel, the council’s paper points out that “The federal government continues to prioritize investments in roads and bridges at the expense of trains and other modes of public transit.”
“To put the nation on the right path, the United States needs to be far more aggressive, embracing meaningful policies and programs that can lead to significant improvements in U.S. energy efficiency,” the authors wrote.
In 2013, total U.S. energy consumption is predicted to consist of 32 percent end-use energy consumption in the industrial sector, 28 percent consumption in the transportation sector, 22 percent in the residential buildings sector and 19 percent in the commercial buildings sector. The potential for improvement in each of these sectors is great, but progress has been slow and the country must step up in its national commitment to efficiency, said the council.
To see the council’s complete list of 15 energy efficiency indicators and access the full white paper, please visit: aceee.org.