Energy efficiency continues to prove its value in helping consumers reduce their energy expenses, boosting the reliability of grid networks, and supporting governments in meeting decarbonisation goals.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced that its Better Buildings Initiative has helped save $13.5 billion in energy costs across nearly 1,000 businesses, government agencies and other participants in 2020. The savings are equivalent to the reduction of more than 130 million tons of carbon emissions or the emissions released by some 28.2 million vehicles over a period of 12 months.
Since the launch of the initiative in 2011, the DoE is working with the public and private sectors to accelerate investments for energy efficiency retrofits in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. The DoE programme has also enabled:
- Financial partners to direct $26 billion in funding towards renewable and energy efficiency projects
- The use of ICT in energy management resulting in up to $95 million in energy savings
- Increased public and private sector partnerships on energy management with more than 400 organisations signing to the DoE’s Better Buildings Residential Network. This has resulted in more than 300,000 home energy assessments being carried out.
Enhacing energy efficiency deployment
In the US, increasing energy efficiency adoption is expected to help the country move closer to the Biden Administration’s target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. However, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy claims that energy efficiency in buildings needs to be mandated first for the US to be able to reach its climate action goals. Nearly one-third of all US greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, yet a large number of US states are still reluctant to enact policies that encourage energy efficiency retrofits in buildings. Moreover, despite the progress, the sector has made in the past few years, 2020 developments were disrupted by the pandemic with the number of jobs within the sector declining by almost 300,000, negatively impacting the overall market, according to ACEEE.
To continue to reap the benefits energy efficiency has to offer, the DoE has launched two new programmes:
- The Low-Carbon Pilot in which the department has so far partnered with more than 50 partners, including automakers, food service companies, universities, and local governments. Participants will share their experiences, successes, and challenges pursuing low-carbon strategies. The experiences will help the DoE to come up with ways to better improve the deployment of efficiency mechanisms for grid resilience and climate action.
- The L-Prize, a $12 million competition designed to encourage the development of next-generation energy efficient LED lights. The first L-Prize, which was awarded 10 years ago to a LED replacement for the 60-watt bulb, helped lay the groundwork for products that now save Americans $14.7 billion in avoided energy costs per year.
Globally, an increasing amount of investments are being poured into the energy efficiency sector especially in developed economies as investors, governments and energy stakeholders become more aware of the role efficiency plays in accelerating the path to net zero. In Europe, for example, the European Investment Bank has formed an alliance with Union de Creditos Inmobiliarios to unveil a new credit line that is designed to accelerate project funding within the sector in France and Spain. The European Committee of the Regions has also recommended the European Commission leverage energy efficiency as a base to develop an integrated energy system that is thought to be key to unlocking the block’s transition to clean energy resources.
Learn more about DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative here.