Buildings in the U.S. account for approximately 40% of our national energy consumption. Improving the efficiency of our buildings can free up energy resources to reduce the need for additional power generation and free up money for productive use and investment in our families, communities and enterprises. Energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest, cleanest energy source we have; tapping this resource in our buildings is a critical step toward economic recovery and climate protection.
In collaboration with a range of stakeholders in the energy efficiency, environmental, and business community, ACEEE is developing recommendations for enhancing our existing efficiency programs and policies and creating new initiatives that will accelerate an overhaul of our existing buildings stock. Our recommendations focus on: 1) increasing the availability and adoption of high efficiency appliances, equipment, and building components in new and existing buildings; 2) training the highly-skilled workforce needed to design, operate and maintain buildings and building systems to optimize energy efficiency; 3) improving information on building energy performance available to building owners, operators, purchasers, and renters; and 4) improving the efficiency of existing residential and commercial buildings through comprehensive building retrofits.
Specific recommendations include improvements to existing policies including advanced building codes, appliance and equipment standards, and energy efficiency tax incentives and adoption of new programs to retrofit residential and commercial buildings with additional attention directed to multifamily and manufactured housing, train a skilled workforce to design and operate buildings for optimal energy performance, and provide for disclosure of building energy consumption.
If implemented, these recommended policies and programs would reduce peak demand by about 41,000 megawatts with carbon emissions reductions totaling approximately 53 million metric tons in 2030.1 The peak demand impacts are equivalent to 136 power plants of 300 MW each. The carbon emissions reductions are equivalent to taking 9 million cars off the road for a year. In 2030, annual savings would total 3.19 quads of primary energy2, including 153 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of natural gas. These policies would also yield significant economic benefits including consumer energy bill savings of $12 billion in 2030. In 2020, impacts would be about 50% of the 2030 impacts. Substantial additional energy will be saved by the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard.