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New Report: U.S. Ranks 13th out of 16 Largest Economies in Energy Efficiency

2 min. read

Based on this story, it looks like the U.S. has a lot of work to do when it comes to energy efficiency.

The U.S. ranks 13th out of the 16 largest economies in energy efficiency, according to areport released today from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an environmental nonprofit advocacy group.

The U.S. scored poorly for a number of reasons, including relatively low use of and investment in public transit, a high number of miles traveled in inefficient vehicles as well as high energy usage in both commercial and residential sectors.  A lack of energy savings targets and efficiency standards also played a role, the report’s authors said.

This poor ranking is unfortunate for a number of reasons. For one, as Tigercomm's Bridgette Borst reported in late June, a Johnson Controls energy efficiency forum concluded that not only is "energy efficiency is a great way to save money, reduce carbon emissions [and] put lots of people to work in good-paying, local jobs," it is also "one of the key four building blocks that states will be able to comply with the part 111-D Rule” (the EPA’s recently-announced proposal for reductions of carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants).

Second, Americans overwhelmingly support energy efficiency improvements, so this is a political "no brainer."

Third, as an International Energy Agency report in late 2013 found that energy efficiency is a “huge opportunity going unrealised,” with “investments in energy efficiency…still less than two‐thirds of the level of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Finally, with regard to the enormous potential of energy efficiency, see Institute for Building Efficiency’s Jennifer Layke: Insights on Communicating the Enormous Potential of Energy Efficiency and Is energy efficiency condemned to be the “eat your peas” technology?, in which we note that Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins has found that“adopting efficiency technologies aggressively yet cost-effectively, yield[s] at least a 12% annual real rate of return.”

Given the points listed above, there's really no excuse for the U.S. to rank 13th out of the 16 largest economies in terms of energy efficiency. To the contrary, we should be pushing hard to move towards the top of those rankings, and to do so as quickly as possible.