as those designing refrigerators or automotive drive trains, could not compete with marketers for influence over organizational decisions. As a result, the U.S. public has come to the point where it associates good low-technology engineering (as in cars) with foreign countries. Recent concern about energy conservation may be restoring some dignity and influence to low-technology engineers.
Banks and other lenders influence energy use by their willingness to make funds available at favorable rates for energy-efficient improvements in equipment and by their willingness to offer mortgage money for energy-efficient new structures. Bankers’ beliefs about the effects of energy efficiency on the quality of mortgage investments are also important. They are more likely to make loans for energy efficiency if they believe it increases resale value, attractiveness to renters, or the ability of the owner to make loan payments. Such considerations have led the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation to consider energy conservation among its criteria for purchasing loans on the secondary market. This criterion may eventually affect the energy efficiency of housing through the behavior of primary lenders.
Standard-setting organizations, which are mainly voluntary in the United States, standardize a variety of energy-related products and services. Many interests, often conflicting, are represented in such organizations. Thus, when the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers devises standards for building construction, some organizations represented in the society stand to gain because changed standards will increase demand for their products, while others stand to lose. In the past, the organizations that set standards for heating, cooling, and lighting in buildings usually set standards to increase the comfort of building occupants. Such standards also promoted sales for the organizations whose representatives set the standards. Energy efficiency was not a serious consideration in standard-setting at that time. Now, with energy users more concerned about costs, it may be appropriate to reexamine standards based on comfort to see if they are warranted. These standards have changed greatly in the last few decades: standards today require twice as much lighting in buildings and a narrower band of temperatures in workplaces than a generation ago. The expectations of building occupants have changed at the same time as the standards: many workers expect air-conditioned workplaces in climates where very few had them in 1960.