In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Andrew Wilson Elementary School in New Orleans was built to ensure that there is plenty of daylight streaming through the windows in common areas and classrooms. (Credit: Joe Ryan)

U.S. Could Double Energy Productivity, Experts Say

Feb. 19, 2013 — Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have long understood that using energy more efficiently can be just as beneficial as finding new ways to produce energy more efficiently.

On Feb. 7, NREL Director Dan Arvizu and a blue-ribbon panel of 20 energy experts drove that message home, declaring that the United States can double its energy productivity by 2030 — and do so in ways that bolster the nation’s economy.

Unveiling their recommendations at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Arvizu and other members of the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy said that doubling energy productivity could create a million new jobs, while saving the average household $1,000 a year and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by one-third.

“Serving on the Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy over the past year has been a unique and rewarding experience,” Arvizu said. “The commission’s recommendations provide a bold yet attainable roadmap for revolutionizing our nation’s use of energy, and boosting our economy and improving our environment along the way.” The commission was organized and sponsored by the ASE, and the full report is available on the ASE website.

The commission said its ambitious goals can be accomplished by unleashing investments in energy efficiency concepts and technologies throughout the economy, modernizing our energy infrastructure, reforming regulatory measures to promote efficiency, and educating consumers and business leaders on ways to reduce energy waste.

In December, Arvizu testified on the importance of greater energy efficiency before the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure.

“Perhaps the most compelling evidence that energy efficiency measures can have dramatic effects in the future is the often-overlooked fact that they already have produced so many benefits for our nation,” Arvizu noted in his testimony. To the same point, a report by the commission showed that the nation would be using fully 50% more energy than we currently use today had we not taken advantage of all the energy efficiency opportunities we have developed and deployed over the past three decades.

The NREL director’s work on the commission and his testimony before Congress are but two illustrations of how NREL has been a leader in cutting-edge energy efficiency solutions.

A wealth of NREL experience and research knowledge was included in Arvizu’s contribution to the commission’s report. Dick DeBlasio, NREL’s chief engineer for renewable electricity ande use applications, Austin Brown, a Washington, D.C., analyst in NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center, and Gary Schmitz, NREL senior manager for government relations, worked closely with Arvizu and ASE staff to ensure the recommendations reflected the latest in energy efficiency analysis and R&D concepts from NREL programs.

In addition to NREL’s R&D on renewable energy generation technologies such as solar and wind, the laboratory has major programs to improve energy efficiency in the nation’s two largest sectors of energy use: buildings and transportation.

Read more: U.S. could double energy productivity, experts say — Science Daily.

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