The United States has had a variety of programs to encourage improved energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings for about 40 years, going all the way back to the 1973 oil embargo. These programs are operated by the federal government as well as states, utilities, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations. Some of these programs are decades old; others are more recent.
This report recaps many of the major efforts, with an emphasis on federal programs and summaries of other efforts. This study was written with two audiences in mind. First, it is designed to serve as a “Building Efficiency Policy 101” introduction for Americans who are new to the energy efficiency field and could benefit from a quick tutorial on many of the major programs. Second, it was commissioned by the Energy Foundation China Sustainable Energy Program so that Chinese policymakers and energy efficiency practitioners can learn more about U.S. energy efficiency programs and policies, allowing them to learn from what the United States has been doing, which will help to inform discussions about appropriate programs and policies for China. To serve this objective, both English and Chinese Mandarin versions of this report are available.