New metric shows benefits of energy efficiency

March 20, 2012

It comes as no surprise to people who are familiar with building operating costs and energy efficiency that making improvements to a structure that make it more sustainable helps the environment. A new study by Environment America helps to add evidence to this line of thinking, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

According to the report, if there is an adoption of efficient technology in buildings across the U.S., there could be a significant decrease in the amount of energy that is consumed by these structures, and a sharp drop in the associated operating costs.

The report outlined how actions could be taken by local, state and federal governments, along with the private sector, in order to promote major gains in the energy efficient building sector.

Due to the adoption of new technologies, and a concerted effort to cut operating costs for structures by both owners and tenants, the projections given by the Energy Information Administration for energy use per square foot in buildings go down every year.

Energy intensity projections in the commercial and residential sectors have dropped 10 percent, and projections accounting for the use of best available technology show an even sharper decline – up to 30 percent better than was predicted just several years ago.

"But we can and we must improve, implementing an aggressive two-part strategy that sets bold efficiency standards for new buildings and encourages investments in energy-efficiency improvements in the buildings we already have," said the authors of the report.

According to the Inquirer, the report was supported by the PennEnvironment and several energy efficiency advocates in Pennsylvania.

"This study comes at a very important time for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Shari Shapiro, an attorney in the energy, environment and utilities sector, said in a statement. "Until 2011, Pennsylvania's building and energy codes were some of the most efficient in the nation. This year, Pennsylvania is poised to reject new building energy codes, and miss out on 15% greater building efficiency. This study proves that good policies, including strong building codes and appliance standards, are critical for improving building energy efficiency and saving money."

The State of Pennsylvania is a leader in the push for more energy efficient buildings, as a Department of Energy-designated innovation HUB devoted to the sector is located in Philadelphia.

The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is an effort that is headquartered at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard and focuses on transforming the building stock in the city to serve as a national model for efficiency.