Energy Efficiency

Picture of Building between trees and blue sky

Improving the Building Sector

Buildings in the U.S. consume a great deal of energy, yet much of that energy is wasted through inefficency – windows or building ducts that leak heated or cooled air, lights and electric equipment that lose energy as heat, computers that stay on when they are not in use. Improved efficiency can save money, reduce emissions and contribute to a better quality of life.

Buildings are Energy Hogs: 

Graphic of Growth in Electricity Sales in Buildings Relative to Industry

U.S. Buildings are Less Efficient than Other Countries’ Buildings

Building Inefficiency Contributes to Climate Disruption

Action on Buildings’ Energy Efficiency Saves Money:

  • The United States would save $20 billion if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings improved by 10 percent.
  • A 2009 report from the consulting firm McKinsey found that the United States could save $1.2 trillion through 2020, by investing $520 billion in sweeping, holistic efficiency measures (not including program costs) like sealing building ducts and replacing inefficient household appliances.
  • According to a Johnson Controls 2012 report, 86 percent of U.S. and Canadian executives reported that energy management was very or extremely important to their organizations, up from 67 percent in 2011. Energy cost savings, government or utility incentives or rebates, and enhanced brand or public image led as drivers for energy efficiency action.
  • According to a 2010 report by McGraw-Hill Construction, on average, building “green” showed a reduction in operating costs of 13.6 percent for new buildings and 8.5 percent for retrofits, an increase in building values of 10.9 percent for new buildings and 6.8 percent for retrofits; and an increase in return on investment of 9.9 percent for new buildings and 19.2 percent for retrofits.
  • There is solid evidence that improving building energy efficiency results in improved health due to better air quality and more comfortable temperatures.