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Energy use in empty buildings.
One of the perplexing discoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the energy consumption of office buildings failed to appreciably drop when people began working at home. The Empire State Building, for example, has basically been empty, but electricity use fell only 28%. At the University of California, Davis, where I work in the Energy and Efficiency Institute, 90% of staff and students left during the pandemic, yet electricity consumption in its classrooms, offices, and labs dipped only 15%. Similar stories can be found all over the country: the workers leave, but the building keeps humming along as if they had not. The result is wasted energy, emissions, and money. What's going on?
Energy efficiency in rentals.
For many homeowners, the reason for investing in energy efficiency is simple: It will reduce their energy bills and put more money in their pockets for years. But a climate plan recently released by Senate Democrats highlights a stubborn challenge around energy efficiency in rental properties, where landlords and tenants alike are trapped in a market that ignores the value of efficiency. When landlords include the cost of energy and/or water usage in a tenant’s rent, tenants are not incentivized to watch their energy consumption. On the other hand, for the 88% of rental households that are responsible for paying the energy bill themselves, landlords have little incentive to invest in high-efficiency insulation, appliances, LED lighting, and other measures that reduce energy usage. Often called a “split incentive” or “incentive disconnect,” this has left many behind.
Energy saving tips for fall.
Cooler weather brings a whole new set of challenges for those concerned about keeping down their energy expenses. This is true now more than ever: COVID-19 has caused many households’ energy bills to rise as people spend more time at home. When inclement weather makes outdoor activities even more difficult, many households will likely see this trend worsen – unless steps are taken now to intervene. Through energy-efficient behavior and upgrades, you can not only beat the pandemic’s energy-raising effects, but permanently lower your monthly expenses. These tips will get you started.
Energy Efficiency Magazine
As COVID-19 continues to devastate economies around the globe, energy efficiency solutions must be a critical element of countries’ rapid and sustainable recovery. That’s the key theme in Energy Efficiency Magazine: Special Edition on Energy Efficiency and Economic Recovery, which was released digitally today by the Energy Efficiency Global Alliance (EEGA) – an initiative of the Alliance to Save Energy – and the AOB Group. The magazine features thought pieces from a suite of experts who make the case for leveraging energy efficiency to both jumpstart economies and mitigate the climate crisis and offer pathways to achieve that outcome.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Manufacturing.
We are witnessing perhaps the biggest transition in the transportation industry since the advent of the internal combustion engine at the beginning of the 20th century. Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to dominate the automobile market by 2040, and while the timeline for fully automated vehicles (AVs) is still hotly debated, most experts agree that widespread adoption is inevitable. While the positive climate impacts of this transportation transition are well established, there is less certainty about how our nation’s workforce will be impacted. This is an important conversation, particularly as our nation focuses on rebuilding industries following the COVID-19 pandemic to be more inclusive and equitable. This is why members of the 50x50 Action Network – a group of stakeholders committed to advocating for policies that will help reduce our nation’s transportation energy use 50% by 2050 – convened for a closed-door roundtable discussion last month to explore how a just transition can be achieved.
EP100 Cooling Challenge
The world is in a pickle when it comes to cooling: We need more cooling as temperatures rise – with some of the world’s most populous cities expected to see increases between 2°C and 8°C by 2050 – yet we risk contributing to global warming even more if we emit more greenhouse gases through air-conditioning and refrigeration. Not to mention, demand for cooling will further increase as it becomes more accessible to emerging economies. Electricity demand for air conditioning worldwide is projected to increase by more than 140% by 2050. Left unchecked, the related emissions could nearly double in comparison to 2016. These challenges are why EP100, our global initiative with the Climate Group for companies committed to doing more with less energy, elevated its focus this year on sustainable cooling solutions.
Montgomery County microgrid.
Microgrids have received a lot of buzz in recent years, and with good reason: Microgrids are smack in the middle of trends including digitalization, decarbonization, and demand flexibility that are enabling a more resilient, flexible, and efficient energy system. As the Alliance’s Active Efficiency Collaborative explores the innovations unlocking new potential in the world of energy efficiency, here’s a look at what microgrids are and what’s ahead for their implementation.
Cannabis energy intensity.
The U.S. House of Representatives will likely vote this month on two pieces of legislation that could have major impacts on energy consumption. One – an energy innovation companion to the Senate’s American Energy Innovation Act – has obvious efficiency components. The other may fly under your “energy efficiency” radar: marijuana legalization. Indoor cannabis cultivation is one of the most energy-intensive industries, spending an estimated $6 billion on energy annually. That’s a hefty electricity bill, matching that of the federal government powering its facilities.
Energy efficiency worker installing insulation.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the Alliance has called on Congress to pass a stimulus package with strong energy efficiency provisions to counter staggering job losses in the sector while also building back better. We have prioritized strengthening efficiency tax incentives, modernizing critical public facilities and transportation infrastructure, and creating grants to help small businesses improve efficiency – proposals that would quickly get this workforce back on its feet. Now, a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) confirms just how impactful these policies could be, not just in creating jobs but also in lowering energy bills and sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ACEEE report examined 17 proposed policy solutions from efficiency advocates – including the Alliance – covering buildings, transportation, and the industrial sector. Overall, it found that the proposals could create more than 1.3 million jobs, avoid 910 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and save $120 billion on energy bills for households and businesses.
Digitalization.
In a matter of decades, digital technologies have transformed our lives on an individual and societal level – and it’s just the beginning. From 3D printing to self-driving vehicles, digital applications will continue to define and drive innovation across sectors. Energy efficiency is no exception: The Alliance’s Active Efficiency Collaborative is working to accelerate the integration of traditional energy efficiency measures with digital technologies to drive further efficiency gains. So, what exactly does digitalization mean?

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