Towards a sustainable energy balance: progressive efficiency and the return of energy conservation
- 331 Downloads
We argue that a primary focus on energy efficiency may not be sufficient to slow (and ultimately reverse) the growth in total energy consumption and carbon emissions. Instead, policy makers need to return to an earlier emphasis on “conservation,” with energy efficiency seen as a means rather than an end in itself. We briefly review the concept of “intensive” versus “extensive” variables (i.e., energy efficiency versus energy consumption) and why attention to both consumption and efficiency is essential for effective policy in a carbon- and oil-constrained world with increasingly brittle energy markets. To start, energy indicators and policy evaluation metrics need to reflect energy consumption, as well as efficiency. We introduce the concept of “progressive efficiency,” with the expected or required level of efficiency varying as a function of house size, appliance capacity, or more generally, the scale of energy services. We propose introducing progressive efficiency criteria first in consumer information programs (including appliance labeling categories) and then in voluntary rating and recognition programs such as ENERGY STAR. As acceptance grows, the concept could be extended to utility rebates, tax incentives, and ultimately to mandatory codes and standards. For these and other programs, incorporating criteria for consumption, as well as efficiency, offers a path for energy experts, policymakers, and the public to begin building consensus on energy policies that recognize the limits of resources and global carrying capacity. Ultimately, it is both necessary and, we believe, possible to manage energy consumption, not just efficiency, in order to achieve a sustainable energy balance. Along the way, we may find it possible to shift expectations away from perpetual growth and toward satisfaction with sufficiency.
KeywordsAppliances Buildings Energy consumption Energy conservation Energy efficiency Energy sufficiency Progressive efficiency
- Baker, L. (2004). Great big green monster mansions. Salon.com July 7, 2004. Retrieved August 20, 2004 from http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2004/07/07/green_big_houses/index.html.
- Birol, F., & Keppler, J. H. (2000). Prices, technological development and the rebound effect. Energy Policy, 28(6/7), 425–432.Google Scholar
- California Energy Circuit. (2004). “Livin’ large causes demand to surge in Inland Empire.” Retrieved August 20, 2004 from. http://www.californiaenergycircuit.net/
- City of Aspen, Colorado. (2002). Adoption of the 1999 Aspen/Pitkin Energy Conservation Code, as Amendments to the City Building Code, Section 8.20.020. Retrieved September 20, 2004 from http://www.bpcnet.com/codes/aspen/_DATA/Title_8/20/020.html, August 13.
- Consumers Union. (2006). Comments of Consumers Union of the US, Inc. to the Federal Trade Commission “Energy Labeling, Project No. R511994” 16 C.F.R. Part 305. Washington, DC. Jan. 13. Retrieved March 10, 2006 from http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/energylabeling/519870-00017.pdf
- County of Marin [California]. (2002). Single family dwelling energy efficiency ordinance—Marin County, California. Retrieved September 20, 2004 from http://www.co.marin.ca.us/EFiles/BS/AgMn/02_1022/html/Item-17-ord.pdf
- Diamond, R. and Moezzi, M. (2004). Changing trends: A brief history of the U.S. consumption of energy, water, beverage and tobacco, published in the Proceedings of the 2004 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Washington, DC, August, 2004.Google Scholar
- Meier, A. (2000). Living in a carbon constrained world. Home Energy, March/April 2000.Google Scholar
- Moezzi, M. (1998). The predicament of efficiency. Proceedings of the 1998 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Washington, DC: ACEEE.Google Scholar
- Moezzi, M., & Diamond, R. (2005). Is efficiency enough? Towards a new framework for carbon savings in the California residential sector. California Energy Commission PIER report, Sacramento, California. LBNL Report-58580.Google Scholar
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratories. (2005). Indicators of energy intensity in the United States.” Retrieved March 10, 2006 from http://intensityindicators.pnl.gov/
- Prahl, D. (2000). Analysis of energy consumption, rating score, and house size. Washington, DC: U.S. Green Building Council.Google Scholar
- Princen, T. (2005). The logic of sufficiency. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Rudin, A. (2000). Why we should change our message from ‘Use energy efficiently’ to ‘ Use less energy’. Proceedings of the 2000 ACEEE summer study on energy efficiency in buildings. Washington, DC: ACEEE.Google Scholar
- Siderius, H.-P. (2004). The end of energy efficiency improvements=The start of energy savings?! Proceedings of the 2004 ACEEE summer study on energy efficiency in buildings. Washington, DC: ACEEE.Google Scholar
- U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. (2002). Energy conservation program for consumer products. 10CFR430—PART 430. Retrieved March 20, 2004 from http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_02/10cfr430_02.html
- U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. (2006). US Statistical Abstract.” Retrieved March 20, 2006 from http://www.census.gov/statab/www/
- U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. (2004). Annual Energy Review. “Table 2.1a Energy Consumption by Sector, Selected Years, 1949–2004.” Retrieved March 20, 2006 from http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pdf/pages/sec2_4.pdf
- U.S. Federal Trade Commission. (2006). Appliance energy data. Listings for refrigerators and freezers as of May 1, 1006. Retrieved March 20, 2006 from http://www.ftc.gov/appliancedata
- U.S. Green Building Council. (2005). Rating system for pilot demonstration of LEED for Homes Program. Version 1.72. Retrieved March 20, 2006 from http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=147
- White House. (2002). “Global change policy book.” Washington, DC. Retrieved March 20, 2006 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/climatechange.html, February.
- Wilhite, H., Lutzenhiser, L., Shove, E., & Kempton, W. (2000). Twenty years of energy demand management: We know more about behavior but how much do we know about demand? Proceedings of the 2000 ACEEE summer study on energy efficiency in buildings. Washington DC: ACEEE.Google Scholar
- Wilhite, H., & Norgard, J. S. (2004). Equating efficiency with reduction: A self-deception in energy policy. Energy & Environment, Volume 15, Number 6, November 2004, pp. 991–1009 (19).Google Scholar