According to a report by Energy Manager Today, the U.S. is consuming energy more efficiently and with lower emissions than five years ago thanks to a slew of modern technologies that are changing decades-old patterns. Research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance, New York, and industry group the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Washington, D.C., published the “Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook,” which portrays a dynamic and rapidly changing U.S. energy landscape. Energy efficiency is making a major impact, and, as a result, energy demand has fallen steeply.
Since the 1980s, energy intensity has decreased by more than 40 percent. This improvement is mainly caused by reduced consumption of primary energy (predominantly natural gas), which can be attributed to higher levels of efficiency in new buildings and improvements to hardware and operations relating to heating, ventilation and air conditioning within older buildings.
Electricity intensity has not decreased in the same way. However, although a commercial building in 2012 has far more electricity-consuming appliances than its equivalent in 1980, buildings today are not consuming substantially more electricity per square foot than they were. In other words, the increase in uses for electricity has been offset by improvements to HVAC and lighting.
The factbook highlights how energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a priority, particularly among large power consumers, such as manufacturers who are being ever more cost-conscious.
U.S. utility budgets for efficiency expenditures reached $7 billion in 2011 (the latest available date for which data exists), and financing for energy-efficiency retrofits has become increasingly sophisticated, propelling further greening of U.S. buildings.