NEMA Supports Energy-efficiency Legislation, but Building Owners/Managers Ultimately Must Take Action to Save Energy

Since 1926, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), has been at the forefront in advocating for safe and effective electrical standards, as well as energy-efficient products. Current NEMA Policy promotes energy-efficient technologies that support reducing burdens on the nation’s electrical grids; deployment of energy control, storage and demand-response products; energy codes based on commercially available technology; a focus on systems (not product) performance; and consumer education.

In recent years, NEMA has supported key legislation including the Energy Savings and Competitiveness Act, the Smart Energy Act, the Storage Technology for Renewable and Green Energy Act, the High Performance Federal Buildings Act, the Energy Independence and Security Act, and the Energy Policy Act. Each law has the implied effect of supporting lighting and HVAC retrofits, and those systems comprise the bulk of energy use in all types of buildings—commercial, industrial and institutional.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the industrial sector is the largest consumer of energy in the USA, followed closely by the transportation, commercial and residential sectors. Patrick Hughes, NEMA policy director for Industrial Energy Efficiency, recently wrote in ElectroIndustry Magazine, motors use 69 percent of the electricity in the industrial sector. He wrote: “The International Energy Agency estimates that world-wide implementation of the best available motors, paired with variable frequency drives, could reduce energy consumption in the industrial sector by 20% to 25%, reducing world-wide energy use by 7%.” Facility managers with personal goals to reduce costs and energy use, should take a hard look at installing premium motors and VFDs throughout their operations.

As important as motors and drives, lighting is still the low-hanging fruit for fast-track energy savings. Michael Jouaneh of Lutron, notes: “The real problem is with the vast majority of buildings that are still using pre-1989 lighting technology, wasting energy and money every day without knowledge of it or fixing it. Having poor lighting in a building is like having leaky plumbing. But leaky plumbing usually gets fixed quickly—saving water and money to prevent complaints. But a poor lighting system may be in place for decades before it gets addressed—wasting enormous energy and money while causing discomfort and productivity loss.”

Every component in lighting systems—lamps/lightsources, ballasts, fixtures, controls—has new technology that is easy to specify and install in retrofit applications. Tom Salpietra, president of EYE Lighting, notes: “There are a number of trade alliances, industry partners and governmental agencies that can help end-users, building owners, cities and municipalities with various solutions, including installation and financing of retrofit projects. The key in selecting the right retrofit is to conduct the right study, then take into consideration all costs, not just the cost of the product. Installation and maintenance costs, as well as the reduction in energy consumption, are key factors in retrofit decisions.”

The U.S. wastes more energy than it consumes. “NEMA has proposed a simple, effective, and technology-neutral package of tax incentives for energy efficiency in buildings, factories and the electric grid,” concludes Keith T.S. Ward, former president and CEO of Luminus Devices. “Greater energy efficiency in all our sectors will boost economic productivity and competitiveness, enhance U.S. energy security, mitigate outages, and reduce emissions. Energy efficiency is clean, green and resilient, and the contribution retrofits can make is enormous.”

About the Author

Doug Baillie
Doug Baillie is a member of the NEMA enLIGHTen America Task Force, which promotes energy-efficient lighting upgrades for new and existing buildings (commercial, industrial and institutional) and disseminates information about lighting and lighting controls that will save energy, provide a return on investment and increase asset value.

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