The U.S. government is making great strides in implementing programs that encourage more efficient use of energy as a means of reducing negative environmental impacts, conserving resources, and reducing pollution.
DOE’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, for example, are estimated to save some $17 billion in residential energy costs by 2005, $12.5 billion in commercial energy costs, and $5.8 billion in industrial energy costs. Federal energy programs will save taxpayers some $400 million by 2000.
The following programs represent some resources your community might tap into when designing its energy program:
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has many programs in place that provide technical and other forms of assistance to encourage the efficient use of energy across all sectors. Among them:
• Building Technology, State, and Community Programs. This program aims to provide technical leadership, promote energy efficiency, and stimulate collaborative activities to make U.S. buildings more efficient, comfortable, affordable, and sustainable. The goal of its Web site is to provide users with information about advanced building technology systems and partnership opportunities that promote energy efficiency and pollution prevention.
• Federal Energy Management (FEMP). FEMP’s mission is to reduce the cost of government by advancing energy efficiency, water conservation, and the use of solar and other renewable energy sources. This mission is accomplished by creating partnerships, leveraging resources, transferring technology, and providing training and support.
• Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT). OIT focuses on applying energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other pollution prevention options in the industrial sector. Programs operated by this office include:
• Motor Challenge. Provides information and resources to help make informed decisions about management and maintenance of electric motor-driven systems.
• Climate Wise. A voluntary program, administered jointly by DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that helps companies reduce greenhouse emissions by implementing energy efficiency and pollution-prevention measures. Provides technical assistance, workshops and seminars, and case studies.
• Climate Challenge. A successful, joint, voluntary effort of DOE and the electric utility industry to reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gases. Utilities, in partnership with the Department of Energy, identify and implement cost-effective activities which are specified in individual agreements between DOE and individual electric utilities. The actions that utilities have committed to in their agreements include: efficiency improvements in end-use, distribution, transmission, and generation; increased use of energy-efficient electrotechnologies; fuel switching to lower carbon fuels such as natural gas, nuclear, or renewable energy.
• Industrial Assessment Centers. Sponsors industrial assessments for small- and medium-sized manufacturers at no cost. Recommendations from these assessments have averaged $55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer.
• NICE3. A cost-sharing grant program that provides funding to state/industry partnerships for projects that develop and demonstrate advances in energy efficiency and clean production technologies.
• Office of Power Technologies. Its mission is to develop clean, competitive power technologies for the 21st century, including renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass), energy storage, hydrogen, and superconductors. Much information on these topics can be found at this website.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a DOE-operated national laboratory whose mission is to develop renewable energy technologies and transfer them to the private sector. NREL’s staff is internationally recognized and respected for its work in photovoltaics, wind, biofuels, and building energy efficiency. NREL’s Web site offers much useful information, including a database of all NREL-produced publications, an on-line photo library, articles explaining energy technologies and energy solutions, and links to other energy resources.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division conducts multidisciplinary research on energy and environmental topics to advance the efficient, environmentally acceptable use of energy.
A Consumer's Guide to Buying a Solar Electric System is a DOE guide produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It offers an overview of the ins and outs of purchasing a photovoltaic system for home or business use. Arranged in an easy-to-use question and answer format, the guide covers everything from PV basics to acquiring a net metering agreement.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Lights Program is a voluntary program that encourages the use of energy-efficient lighting in businesses and organizations. The program provides technical assistance, publications, software tools, and other forms of assistance to its participants, who save an average of 30 percent in lighting energy costs and reduce pollution by an average of 5 percent
Based on the success of its Green Lights Program, EPA also has developed a series of programs, called Energy Star programs, which focus on assisting consumers, businesses, and industry with saving money and thus reducing pollution. There are several different Energy Star programs, each with a different focus. For example, the Energy Star Homes Program assists new home builders in developing energy-efficient homes and identifies financing opportunities for new home buyers. The Energy Star Office Equipment Program helps promote the manufacture and purchase of more energy-efficient office equipment. The Energy Star Small Business Program helps businesses considering energy-efficient upgrades of their business equipment and facility systems. The Energy Star programs are voluntary, and participating partners have access to a variety of assistance to help them reduce energy consumption and operating costs.
Government Programs Support Business Environmental Efficiency"