Energy efficiency

Energy Department Recognizes 11 Manufacturers for Energy Efficiency Achievements

Building on the Administration’s efforts to double energy productivity and help American businesses save money by saving energy, the Energy Department today recognized 11 companies that have met ambitious energy-efficiency goals through the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program. Across the country, manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants. Through the Energy Department’s Better Plants Program, American manufacturers commit to improve their energy intensity by 25 percent over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector.

“Through cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in their factories, American manufacturers are boosting their energy productivity, saving money and protecting the environment by reducing carbon emissions,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As a result, Better Plants Partners have avoided 18.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions to date, which is about the same as the annual emissions from close to five coal-fired power plants. These companies are demonstrating that significant energy savings can be achieved through smart investments that create jobs and strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

The Department also announced today that over the last four years, Better Plants Partners have improved the energy intensity of their operations – a measure of a facility’s energy use per unit of output – by about 2.4 percent annually, far exceeding projected business-as-usual rates for U.S. manufacturers as a whole. Demonstrating leadership and showcasing initiatives and strategies that have proven successful, 11 Better Plants Partners recently met their goal to improve energy intensity:

  • BPM, Inc.
  • Celanese International Corp.
  • Holcim (US) Inc.
  • Legrand North America
  • Lennox International Inc.
  • Patriot Foundry & Castings
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Texas Instruments
  • ThyssenKrupp Elevator
  • Toyota
  • Verso Paper Corp.

More than 140 companies currently participate in the Better Plants Program, representing more than 2,300 manufacturing facilities and close to 11 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. Cumulatively, these companies have saved approximately 320 trillion British Thermal Units of energy – equivalent to saving nearly $1.7 billion in energy costs. Earlier this month, the Department welcomed 23 new manufacturers to the Better Plants Program, representing a range of manufacturing sectors.

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Program is part of President Obama’s broader Better Buildings Initiative to help American commercial and industrial buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient over the next 10 years. The Initiative also includes the Better Buildings Challenge through which U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily housing owners, and state and local governments have committed to reducing energy use across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more. The accomplishments announced today are summarized in the Energy Department’s Fall 2014 Better Plants Progress Update, released today and available here.

Live Long and Phosphor: Blue LED Breakthrough for Efficient Electronics

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

In a step that could lead to longer battery life in smartphones and lower power consumption for large-screen televisions, researchers at the University of Michigan have extended the lifetime of blue organic light emitting diodes by a factor of 10…

This research is described in a study titled “Ten-Fold Increase in the Lifetime of Blue Phosphorescent Organic Light Emitting Diodes,” appearing in Nature Communications.

2015 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry: Call for Papers

Deadline for submissions: October 17, 2014.

ACEEE is now accepting abstracts for the 2015 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry, “Energy Efficiency: Integrating Technology, Policy, and People.” Submit abstracts online or visit the Call for Papers Web page for more information about submission options and abstract details.

2015 Summer Study Panels

  1. Strategic Energy Management
  2. Sustainability
  3. Smart Manufacturing
  4. Beyond Best Practices
  5. Policy & Resource Planning
  6. Delivering Results

Visit the ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry website for more information.

Government Works: Federal Agency Actions on Energy Efficiency

Download the document.

Federal agency actions on energy efficiency under existing legislative authority are saving consumers money, creating jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and reducing oil use and imports. In this paper we examined four sets of recent and prospective agency actions on energy efficiency: appliance standards, vehicle standards, power plant emissions standards, and select housing policies.

We estimate that collectively these policies could save the American people $2.6 trillion (net present value of savings after needed investments for measures taken through 2040). They could cut cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by 34 billion metric tons, more than the total emissions from fossil fuels in this country over six years. They could reduce oil use by 3.4 million barrels a day in 2030, and 4.7 million barrels a day in 2040. And they could cut electricity demand in 2030 by one-fourth. Half of the energy savings are from policies that have not been issued yet.

To achieve them, agencies will need to use system-wide savings, considering the whole electric system for the carbon dioxide emissions standard for existing power plants, and the engine, tractor, and trailer for the fuel economy standard for heavy-duty trucks. Agencies also will need to end delays, setting long overdue standard for manufactured housing and criteria for new homes with federal loans, and lighting standards outside an appropriations rider. Without further legislation we still will not fully use efficiency to meet national goals, but these agency actions are strengthening the economy, the environment, and national security.

Small Towns Achieve Big Savings with Lighting Upgrades

Read the full story from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dozens of small communities throughout Kansas and Missouri are saving big money and energy as a result of several high-impact lighting projects. Over the past three years, more than 5,700 energy-efficient lights were installed in communities with populations of less than 35,000 people. The new streetlights are expected to save 25 cities and towns a combined $25 million in energy costs and slash carbon emissions by more than 380 million metric tons, equivalent to removing 80 million cars off the road in one year. The upgrades were part of Smart Lights for Smart Cities, an energy efficiency initiative managed by the Mid-America Regional Council, a metropolitan planning organization serving the Kansas City area. The new lights—featuring induction and LED technologies—are brighter, more energy efficient, and easier to maintain than the mercury vapor and high-pressure sodium streetlights they replaced.

America’s Data Centers Consuming Massive and Growing Amounts of Electricity

Via the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Much of the massive amounts of electricity that America’s data centers devour to support our business and online activity is being wasted running computer servers doing little or no work most of the time, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Improved energy efficiency practices could cut energy waste by at least 40 percent, saving over $3 billion annually.

“Most of the attention is focused on the highly visible hyperscale ‘cloud’ data centers like Google’s and Facebook’s, but they already are very efficient and represent less than 5 percent of U.S. data center electricity consumption. Our small, medium, corporate, and multi-tenant data centers are still squandering huge amounts of energy,” said Pierre Delforge, NRDC director of high-tech energy efficiency.

Developed in partnership with Anthesis, “Scaling Up Energy Efficiency Across the Data Center Industry: Evaluating Key Drivers and Barriers” notes that while huge “cloud” server farms have made significant efficiency improvements, progress has been much slower and uneven across the nearly 3 million other data centers in businesses and organizations that house 95 percent of servers across the country, costing them billions of dollars and kilowatt hours. In fact, up to one-third of servers are no longer needed but are still consuming large amounts of electricity while many others are grossly underutilized, operating at no more than18 percent of capacity, the report said.

On the whole, U.S. data centers guzzled an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013 —enough to power all of New York City’s households twice over and growing. And data center power needs are estimated to grow significantly. By 2020, annual data center energy consumption is expected to reach 140 billion kilowatt hours in the nation. This could cost business $13 billion annually for electricity equivalent to that generated by 50 large coal-fired power plants emitting nearly 150 million tons of carbon pollution.

Although the full extent of energy waste is unknown due to a lack of consistent metrics, the report estimates that if just half of the potential savings from cost-effective energy efficiency best practices were realized, electricity use could be cut by 40 percent. In 2014, that would equal $3.8 billion in savings for businesses and cut 39 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, equivalent to the electicity generated by 34 large, coal-fired power plants and enough to power all of Michigan’s homes for a year.

“New practices and policies are needed to accelerate the pace and scale of the adoption of energy efficiency best-practices throughout the industry,” Delforge said. “Nearly one-third of all leased data center space will come up for renewal over the next year, so the time to act is now.”

Key findings from the NRDC-Anthesis report include:

  • Up to 30 percent of servers are “comatose” and no longer needed because projects have ended or business processes changed, but are still plugged in and consuming electricity.
  • Much of the energy consumed by U.S. data centers powers servers operating at 12 to 18 percent of capacity. Even sitting virtually idle, servers use significant amounts of power 24/7.
  • In 80 percent of organizations, the department responsible for data center management is separate from the one paying the electric bills. This “split incentive” reduces the likelihood of implementation of commonsense efficiency measures.

The report makes a number of  recommendations, including: aligning incentives for decision makers, developing simple metrics for measuring server utilization, public disclosure of data center energy and carbon performance, and establishing “green leases” for multi-tenant data centers.

Short and long versions of the report can be found at http://www.nrdc.org/energy/data-center-efficiency-assessment.asp. Delforge’s blog is at  http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/pdelforge/new_study_americas_data_center.html. An infographic and graphs are available.

SEE Action Webinar – Energy Efficiency Measure Cost Studies

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM CDT
Register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/956101832.

In this webinar, leading experts will explain the importance of measure cost studies, review the current “state of the science” of measure cost development and estimation, and explore opportunities for future collaboration and advancement of measure cost research.   Presenters will provide an overview of the regulatory and program planning applications of measure cost data, explain the limitations of ad hoc sources of such data, and provide examples of successful development of ex ante measure costs from recent work in California and the Northeast.  Panelists will also provide lessons learned and recommendations for increasing the value of measure cost studies moving forward.