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Efforts to reduce the amount of energy used in the U.S. have worked by dropping energy intensity and saving customers around $800 billion in 2014, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The study notes that while U.S. energy use has increased 26% and GDP has risen 149% since 1980, energy intensity has dropped from 12,100 BTUs/dollar to 6,100 BTUs/dollar due to improvements in energy efficiency and structural changes to the economy.
The researchers cite a variety of energy efficiency advances that have taken place since 1980 to explain the difference, including a drop in industrial energy use per unit value of product, improved motor vehicle fuel economy, and fewer energy losses in the electric transmission and distribution system. Additionally, the authors note that cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities exist that could reduce energy use by 40-60% by 2050 compared to current predictions.
“In order to harvest these large efficiency opportunities, we need to take our efforts to a higher level. The challenges are many, but so are the benefits in terms of lower energy bills, a stronger economy, improved energy security and a cleaner environment,” says Steven Nadel, co-author of the report and ACEEE Executive Director.
The report also offers six suggestions that FMs can use to improve energy efficiency in their own buildings:
1) Improve systems integration by using sensors, controls, big data and computer chips to monitor and control energy use in real-time.
2) Upgrade equipment like elevators, televisions and computer monitors to newer, more efficient models.
3) Consider new construction options such as zero net energy and ultra-low-energy facilities.
4) Expand building retrofits to cover more improvements and yield larger savings per building.
5) Consider options such as combined heat and power systems (CHP).
6) Create initiatives that encourage occupants to use and waste less energy during the course of the day.