The potential to change America's energy future while fighting climate change.
It's true. One of the single most effective tools we have to tackle both of these challenges is also one of the simplest: Energy efficiency. And everyone can help. While the U.S. economy has become dramatically more energy efficient over the past 40 years, there is still significant untapped potential for increased efficiency.
In our recent CEO Memos to Congress document (pdf file), Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of leading U.S. companies with nearly 10 million employees, outlined common-sense measures to increase energy efficiency at all levels— federal, state and local. The recent stimulus bill is a great step forward: It contains about $50 billion in new spending, expands the federal government's commitment to state and local energy efficiency programs and broadens tax incentives for efficiency investments. Additionally, the bill includes billions to modernize America's electric grid and weatherize our homes and buildings.
These are all important investments. Residential and commercial buildings, for instance, are in dire need of an efficiency boost. These structures are responsible for nearly 40 percent of primary energy use in our country, consuming almost three-fourths of our electricity and a fifth of our natural gas. The billions devoted to renovating America's electricity grid with digital technology will save energy and cost for consumers, taking us another encouraging step forward.
But there's more we can do.
Our landmark energy report, More Diverse, More Domestic, More Efficient (pdf file) includes key steps Congress can take to foster energy efficiency among individuals and companies alike: Promoting green mortgages, extending energy audits to homeowners and commercial building owners, continuously strengthening and updating our building codes and ensuring full funding for energy efficiency programs.
Without these investments, the economic reverberations of inefficient buildings and an outdated, inefficient electricity grid will continue to drag on economic growth and weigh down America's already financially overburdened citizens.
Members of Business Roundtable have been on the front lines in the fight to return our nation to a path for growth and future prosperity through investments critical to the 21st century economy—including those in increased energy efficiency. Ensuring efficient use of our nation's energy will save homeowners money and significantly reduce costs for business, resulting in stronger growth and more jobs for hardworking Americans. It is also a vitally important step toward reducing our nation's overall energy consumption.
Energy efficiency may be just one step along our shared path to growth and sustainability, but it is a transformative stride that will help America's citizens, communities and companies thrive in an age of energy insecurity, global competition and economic challenges.
More TreeHugger posts on energy efficiency.
Beating the Energy Efficiency Paradox (Part I)
Beating the Energy Efficiency Paradox (Part II)
Raising Energy Efficiency in a New Materials Economy, Part I ...
New York Times on Energy Efficiency
34% Drop in US Electric Demand Possible Through Energy Efficiency ...