services, such as duct testing and sealing, and recommissioning of existing buildings, are not widely available in many parts of the country.13

Many households have limited resources and limited access to credit, which restricts their ability to invest in energy efficiency measures. In addition, some businesses (particularly small ones) have insufficient capital or borrowing ability.

Drivers for Improving Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Numerous factors—rising fuel and electricity costs, growing environmental awareness, increasing interest by consumers in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the expanding number of “green” buildings, and corporate environmental initiatives—can help to overcome the barriers just described. Likewise, many energy efficiency measures provide nonenergy benefits that encourage their adoption. In addition, public policies—including building energy codes, appliance efficiency standards, and state and utility efficiency programs—are stimulating greater adoption of efficiency measures. See the section titled “Energy Efficiency Policies and Programs: Experience and Lessons Learned” (later in this chapter) for a review of experiences with some of these policies and programs.

Findings: Buildings

Studies taking several different approaches are consistent in finding the potential for large, cost-effective energy savings in buildings. Median predictions of achievable and cost-effective savings are 1.2 percent per year for electricity and 0.5 percent per year for natural gas, amounting to a 25–30 percent energy savings for the buildings sector as a whole over 20–25 years. The committee’s analysis suggests that baseline energy use can be reduced by 30–35 percent by 2030 at a cost less than current retail energy prices. If these savings were to be achieved, they would hold energy use in this sector about constant, in contrast to the current trend of continuing growth.


The full deployment of cost-effective energy-efficient technologies in buildings alone could eliminate the need to add to electricity generation capacity. Since the estimated electricity savings in buildings exceeds the EIA forecast for new net generation, implementing these efficiency measures would mean that no new

13

It should be noted, however, that some energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, compact fluorescent lamps, or ENERGY STAR® appliances, are readily available.



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