A report designed to quantify the impacts of energy-related policies and investments on aspects of U.S. environmental and economic health found promising results lately. According to Energy Efficiency Impact Report, codes have reduced energy usage in buildings by more than 40% over the last four decades.

Produced by Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), the report delves into several energy-consuming sectors, including the residential and commercial building industries. Researchers have used 54 indicators to examine how policy and other tools have impacted energy efficiency since 1980. Drawing analysis primarily from data provided by federal and international sources, findings include:

  • Economic impacts— Energy efficient jobs employed 2.3 million Americans in 2018 who manufactured, designed or installed energy-efficient products and the provision of services that reduce end-use energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER);
  • Energy consumption—emissions related to energy production would be 60% higher if not for current energy efficiency investments and consumers would be paying approximately $800 billion more per year in energy-related costs;
  • Impact of energy-related policies—According to the report, six policies and programs, one of which includes building energy codes, saved the equivalent of 23% of total U.S. energy use; and
  • Future development—ACEEE predicts that updated policies and programs could produce $700 billion worth of savings by 2050, 21% of which are related to building codes and standards.

The report also cites other benefits beyond just energy savings, such as job creation, public health and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, among other things.

“Scaling energy efficiency is also critical to enhancing the resilience of energy systems,” BCSE president Lisa Jacobson added. “Recent disasters have strained energy infrastructure and buildings, costing billions. Upfront investments in energy efficiency not only decrease emissions but mitigate extreme weather impacts.”

From 2016 to 2018, estimated total investments into domestic energy efficiency in the U.S. fell by 18%, the report suggests.

“There’s no question that greater energy and carbon reductions are technically and economically feasible through more ambitious action on energy efficiency. The question is will we treat this with the urgency it deserves,” said ASE president Clay Nesler.

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