The U.S. is notorious for being the biggest energy wasters in the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008, the United States accounted for more than one-fifth of all of the world’s total primary energy consumption. In 2009, the U.S. averaged 17.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per capita.
While this may all sound like doom and gloom, the good news is that we’re taking great strides to reduce those numbers. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita are actually down about 15 percent from 2000. Total electricity net consumption dropped from 3,742 billion kilowatt-hours in 2009 to 807 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010.
So, where are we spending our energy on energy? According to Elisa Wood of RealEnergyWriters.com, government policy pays a great deal of attention to saving electricity, but focuses little on the thermal energy we waste.
“We throw away a lot of the heat. Power plants, for example, create heat as a byproduct of generation. Rather than reusing this thermal energy, we often let it dissipate into the air. As a result, we waste more energy than Japan uses for everything, according to Amory Lovins, author of “Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era.”
There is good news, however. Movers and shakers are becoming more aware of energy alternatives. In addition, states are increasingly incorporating heat efficiency into clean energy portfolio standards.
In fact, Congress is looking to improve heat efficiency in its own backyard. The Capitol Building, which already has a district energy system, plans to incorporate an 18-MW CHP system (also called cogeneration). The system is part of long-term energy plan that attempts to reduce costs and improve the efficiency and the environmental footprint of the Capitol. The CHP system will provide 200,000 lb/hour of steam to heat Congressional buildings. The steam comes from heat produced while generating the electricity, so the plant gets a twofer from the fuel. The CHP system will reduce building energy use 7.1%, according to the first quarter 2012 issue of IDEA’s District Energy magazine.”
At Energy Edge Solutions, we believe that the only way to truly make a building energy efficient and to reduce carbon footprint is to take a comprehensive, whole-system approach. If a company is to invest in energy efficiency, they’re wasting their time and effort by not understanding all of the areas in which they can improve their energy usage.
You wouldn’t try to cut energy costs in your home by replacing your windows but leave a faucet running, would you? The same concept applies to the corporate and commercial industry as well. Only by looking at all of the ways we can conserve energy will we make a significant impact.