Green Industry Articles

More Federal Energy Efficiency Momentum

The Obama Administration recently announced new energy efficiency standards for lighting, as well as investment of $346 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to advance energy-efficient technologies in commercial and residential buildings. The initiatives will be administered through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The lighting standards apply to general service fluorescent lamps (GSFLs), used in most offices and commercial buildings, and incandescent reflector lamps, which are used for recessed lighting and track lighting. These fluorescent and incandescent lamps represent roughly 38% and 7% percent of total lighting energy use respectively. The new standards will result in a 15% reduction in electricity use for GSFLs – saving consumers up to $8.66 per lamp over its lifetime – and a 25% reduction for incandescent reflector lamps – saving $7.95 per lamp over its lifetime. The standards will apply to lamps manufactured for sale in the U.S. or imported, starting in mid-2012. Of the $346 million in Recovery Act funds, $100 million will support research into integrated building systems, including systems-level design, integration and control of new and existing buildings.

Residential Energy Efficiency

DOE will also direct $70 million toward improving energy conservation in residential buildings, increasing homeowner energy savings by supporting energy-efficient retrofits and new construction, while raising consumer awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency. The funding will provide technical support for training workers in energy efficient retrofits and urging municipalities to encourage such retrofits. The funds will also support a major initiative to provide builders with the technical assistance and training they need to build highly efficient homes.

Another $50 million will support research and development of advanced manufacturing techniques for solid-state lighting, such as lamps that employ light-emitted diodes (LEDs).

Commercial Buildings Initiative

DOE will devote $53.5 million to its Commercial Buildings Initiative, which will more than triple its number of partnerships with major companies that design, build, own, manage or operate large fleets of commercial buildings. Another $72.5 million will help prepare the building community for new commercial building energy codes that require a 30% improvement in energy efficiency relative to the 2004 code. A portion of those funds will also support expanding and accelerating DOE's Appliance Standards program, as well as the ENERGY STAR® program for energy efficient products.

Residential and commercial buildings consume 40% of the energy and represent 40% of the carbon emissions in the U.S. Building efficiency represents one of the easiest, most immediate and cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. By applying new and existing technologies, buildings can become up to 80% more efficient, or even have zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions by incorporating on-site renewable generation.

Sources: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network News, a newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE press release.

Green REsource Council Newsletter, July 2009