Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 523–546 | Cite as

Energy efficiency and conservation for individual Americans

  • D. Pimentel
  • Jennifer Gardner
  • Adam Bonnifield
  • Ximena Garcia
  • Julie Grufferman
  • Claire Horan
  • Julia Schlenker
  • Emily Walling


Americans make up only 4% of the world population, yet currently consume 25% of the world’s fossil fuels. The U.S. imports 63% of its oil and it is predicted that by 2020 the U.S. will be importing 95% of its oil resources. Over the past century, ample and affordable supplies of fossil fuels have powered the growth and prosperity of the economies of the US and other countries. Within this century, world oil supplies will decline while demand is projected to continue to increase, suggesting that we will have to transition to different fuels or become much more energy efficient or both. Looking ahead to the near decades, estimates are that consumers will have to reduce their energy use by at least 50%. This reduction will be necessary in large part due the decline in the availability of conventional oil and gas, but also because the U.S. population will continue to grow in number. Although government action is important, individuals too often discount their ability to make significant contributions to solving such major problems. This investigation identifies how informed and concerned individuals can collectively conserve fossil energy.


Energy conservation Residential energy consumption Food production Transport United States 



We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti for the partial support of our research through the Albert Podell Grant Program. Also, we extend special appreciation to David Filiberto who provided us with valuable data and reference sources. In addition, we wish to thank the following people for insightful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of our manuscript: Charles Benbrook, The Organic Center, Enterprise, OR; T. Colin Campbell, Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Gerald Cecil, Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; Duane Chapman, Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Donald Cooke, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Chris Dutilh, Unilever Nederland; Andrew Ferguson, Optimum Population Trust, Manchester, UK; Richard Fluck, Gainesville, FL; John Howe, Howe Engineering, Waterford, ME; Francis W. Jackson, Hatboro, PA; Richard Pirog, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; Herschel Specter, President, RBR Consultants, Inc., White Plains, NY; Jeff Tester, Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Jay Turner, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; V. Ismet Ugursal, Mechanical Engineering, Canadian Residential Energy End-use Data and Analysis Centre, Halifax, NS; Harold Ward, Environmental Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI; Walter Youngquist, Petroleum Engineer, Eugene, OR.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Pimentel
    • 1
  • Jennifer Gardner
    • 1
  • Adam Bonnifield
    • 1
  • Ximena Garcia
    • 1
  • Julie Grufferman
    • 1
  • Claire Horan
    • 1
  • Julia Schlenker
    • 1
  • Emily Walling
    • 1
  1. 1.Agriculture and Life SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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