Lessons from Livermore: Look at the big picture to figure out where we have to go

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Energy USA 2015
credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy

2015 Energy

Every year when I start teaching my course in Sustainable Design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design, I start with the latest Sankey diagram or flow chart from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy, which I consider to be The Chart That Explains Everything. Because the whole point of sustainable design is to figure out how to stop burning energy and making the Carbon Dioxide that is making our planet unsustainable.

TreeHugger Megan looked at this chart recently and wrote Americans used less energy in 2015 than in previous year, solar use makes a big leap. This is true, but it is almost irrelevant.

The fact is, we can dance around the increase in solar and talk about reducing the energy consumption in our office buildings and houses, but the big honking energy suck is that green band at the bottom that is petroleum. And it increased more in the last year than the entire energy production of solar in America, let alone the increase in solar.

So instead of looking at that little yellow rounding error at the top that is solar's contribution, let's look at the big picture over the last few decades.

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