Posts Tagged ‘energy security’

Energy security an important piece of the puzzle

May 1, 2011

Energy-efficiency and renewable energy are important not to make you feel good. They enhance our capability. This forum on energy security hosted by Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman and Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn explains how, with a focus on military capability. But we can apply the same logic at many levels, national, state, and local.

And in our own homes. Energy-efficiency obviously saves energy. But done properly, it is also inextricably linked to comfort, safety, and durability of homes–and these benefits often outweigh the energy savings and the project costs. It’s bigger than just energy, and that’s how you should think about it.

Politicians recognize the link between energy savings and national security and economic health–in China

March 5, 2011

While Congress has been unable to put together a coherent energy strategy, China is moving forward agressively. We certainly can’t condone their non-democratic approaches. But it is clear that they understand the urgency and are making this a priority. As reported in yesterday’s NY Times,

Bejing’s emphasis on saving energy reflects concerns about national security and the effects of high fuel costs on inflation, China’s export competitiveness and the country’s pollution problems.

And rightly so.  Oil is already back up to $104 per barrel, its highest price in more than two years.  [See also last week’s article, “A Tipping Point for Oil Prices“.]  China is whooping us in the renewable energy sector.  And with gains in efficiency, we’d better start carrying extra lunch money, because they’re going to eat ours. 

Ironically, as other country’s increase investment in energy with a strong eye toward energy security and economic vitality, the U.S. House is proposing moving away from this.  The at a time when there are strong concerns that the Libyan violence will deepen and the broaded unrest in the Mideast will spread to Saudia Arbia.  Prudence would dictate moving rapidly to hedge against huge disruptions.  Skyrocketing energy prices right now, given our addition, would undercut the recovery we’re slowly seeing signs of.  Indeed, the WSJ wrote last week “Rising Oil Prices Threaten Recovery“.

We can either get serious about energy policy or we can fall back to Charlie Sheenisms and deny we have a problem.  One makes good TV soundbites.  The other offers hope for our children and our grandchildren.

Nationally, we aren’t preparing.  Are you?


NYTimes: U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels

October 16, 2010

Last week, the NY Times reported on the “greening” of the military, and their focus on reducing fossil fuel use.  There moving in this direction because it makes sense–it increases their operation security.

And as a country, we ought to be looking at it in much the same way.  This isn’t about tree-hugging (although I’m certainly now above hugging the occasional tree).  It’s also about economic vitality and national security.  If we throw our money overseas, it doesn’t stay here in our own communities.  If we rely on the rest of the world for our energy needs, we become beholden to them.  If we pump pollution into the atmosphere, we pay for it with increases health costs, damaged crops and forests, and barren lakes.

We should practice the common sense policy of efficiency first.  Because it’s smart economics, it increases our security, and it good stewarship of of resources–for its own sake and for ours.


Electrics cars mean we need energy savings at home

August 7, 2009

There’s growing buzz about electric cars as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and address climate change.  It really is one of the ways we can address energy use in our transportation system (there are many others, including public transit).

GM's Volt and the Nissan Leaf--from the GM website

GM's Volt and the Nissan Leaf--from the GM website

But if we’re going to start powering our cars with electricity, we need to think about where that electricity is coming from.  Even with new power plants coming online, most regions of the country are looking at capacity shortfalls (brownouts and blackouts, anyone?).  We won’t be able to generate our way out of this.  And some of the lowest hanging fruit here is energy-efficiency, including electrical efficiency, in homes.   Just another reason that moving forward, we won’t have any choice but to become more efficient.


New McKinsey Report: Energy-Efficiency Pays

July 29, 2009

McKinsey Report CoverMcKinsey&Company just released a report on Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy .  The main conclusion of their work is the following:

Energy efficiency offers a vast, low-cost energy resource for the U.S. economy—but only if the nation can craft a comprehensive and innovative approach to unlock it.  Significant and persistant barriers will need to be addressed at multiple levels to stimulate demand for energy efficiency and manage its delivery across more than 100 million buildings and literally billions of devices.  If executed at scale, a holistic approach with yield gross energy savings worth more than $1.2 trillion, well above the $520 billion needed through 2020 for upfront investment in efficiency measures (not including program costs).  Such a program is estimated to reduce end-use energy consumption in 2020 by 9.1 quadrillion BTUs, roughly 23 percent of projected demand, potentially abating up to 1,1 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually.

This is hardly a surprise—energy efficiency makes sense!  The financial value of energy savings more than offsets its cost.  But there’s more…

I’m glad they’ve also documented what we’ve known for some time, namely that energy savings is only part of the equation. 

For example, in the residential sector, energy efficiency upgrades can help reduce exposure to volatility in energy prices, reduce basement water damage, decrease food spoilage, and extend clothing life.

They go on to talk about the positive impacts on comfort and health, productivity, and standards of living.  We already know this to be true—it’s what our clients tell us every day!

The report (a 6MB PDF download) is not light reading—but it’s full of great information.  And it supports the contention that GreenHomes’ home performance approach is barking up the right tree.


Amory Lovins Makes Sense!

March 9, 2009

Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, the man who 30 years ago inspired me to move into energy-efficiency, makes just as much sense today.  And his arguments seem more powerful and urgent than ever.  Check out this brief interview in the WSJ.  [Thanks to Larry Zarker of BPI for pointing it out!]


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