Wednesday, November 20, 2013—The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing hosted in coordination with the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus on the best energy source of all: energy efficiency. There is no cheaper, cleaner energy than energy that isn't needed. Not only does energy efficiency save money and reduce emissions, it also promotes innovation and creates jobs in a large value chain that spans the country, making our economy stronger and more competitive.


The United States is more energy efficient than ever; it takes 52 percent less energy to produce the same amount of GDP than it took in 1973. However, there is still room for tremendous growth in energy efficiency. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranks the United States ninth in energy efficiency out of the world’s twelve major economies. Speakers discussed innovative solutions that have already increased energy efficiency, as well as pathways for future policies to create a consistent standard to promote energy efficiency.

  • In his opening remarks, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) noted that the federal government is the largest user of electricity in the United States.
  • In an attempt to reduce the burden on taxpayers, Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) allow federal agencies to hire private companies to install energy upgrades to federal buildings at no cost to the taxpayer. In return, the companies receive a share of the savings that result from the energy efficiency improvements. Such projects create jobs, in addition to helping the environment.
  • The bipartisan Energy Savings Performance Caucus, which was founded by Reps. Gardner and Welch, is a ten-member, bipartisan caucus that works to promote ESPCs and energy efficiency at the federal level. It has just sent the Administration a letter, signed by 117 Congress members from both parties, supporting the work of the ESCO program.
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), in concurring with Rep. Gardner's comments, insisted we can accomplish clean energy in a way that is beneficial to the economy, will make us energy independent, and reduce carbon emissions.
  • According to Rep. Welch, Congress has an obligation to America: to create opportunity. Energy efficiency creates opportunity by creating local jobs, but also by keeping energy in the local economy.
  • Forty percent of our goals on energy can be achieved through energy efficiency. The two parties, by finding a way to emphasize areas of agreement such as energy efficiency, can make progress.
  • Ross Eisenberg, Vice President of Energy & Resources Policy, National Association of Manufacturers said American manufacturers are committed to policies that promote efficiency and waste reduction across the economy. Sensible energy efficiency policies will cut greenhouse gas emissions, help consumers save money, and lower the cost of doing business.
  • While manufacturing is currently more expensive in the United States than overseas, the U.S. energy mixture gives American manufacturers an edge over our trading partners. Thanks to abundant renewable and traditional sources of energy right here in the United States, as well as increased energy efficiency, manufacturing in the United States is at the threshold of a major comeback.
  • Currently, energy is the largest manufacturing expense and uses one third of the nation’s energy resources, especially in the energy-intensive steel, paper and chemical industries. With smart policies, like the Shaheen-Portman bill currently before Congress, and ESPCs, the United States could once again be a manufacturing powerhouse.
  • Paul Hamilton, Vice-President of Government Affairs, Schneider Electric, a major multinational corporation, noted that energy efficiency is not a new opportunity. Through efficiency measures, the United States has already avoided the need to build new power plants. Nevertheless, studies have suggested that we can still reduce energy consumption by 25 to 30 percent or more across the economy over the next 25 years.
  • Schneider Electric has made energy efficiency one of its core business areas, and wants to practice what it preaches to its customers. In 2005, Schneider Electric set a goal of 4 percent energy reduction per year for 18 of its U.S. sites (expanded to 51 in 2009). Between 2005 and 2012, they reduced consumption by 30 percent while their business grew. This represents a cost savings of $30 million, and the prevention of 260,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Projects that increase energy efficiency have included building management systems, lighting projects, energy efficiency compressors, variable speed drives, occupancy sensors for offices, and compressed air leak detection.
  • The projects use local contractors, at local facilities, and create local jobs. The jobs created by energy efficiency projects cannot be outsourced. These projects also involve an entire supply chain of component providers and other companies.
  • By reducing policy inhibitors, we can optimize industry investment in energy efficiency and create more jobs. Hamilton provided some examples of useful policy action.
  • Maria Kingery, Co-founder and CEO, Southern Energy Management explained that energy efficiency is a huge business opportunity for small businesses such as her own.
  • To date, her firm has worked with 300 home builders in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, and verified over 17,000 homes to be energy efficient through the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and existing home diagnostics.
  • Energy efficient homes have been shown to be affordable, comfortable, durable and valuable. This translates to a win for homebuyers, builders, real estate agents, lenders and appraisers.
  • Energy services companies, manufacturers, builders and utilities agree that standards and consistency in the energy efficiency arena are needed. Policymakers have an important role to play in this respect.
  • The employees of Southern Energy Management have seen firsthand the deep savings and increases in home comfort that result from energy efficiency investments.

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