ENERGY EFFICIENCY, CLEAN POWER AND THE SMART GRID
Since 1994, Global Green has consistently worked to promote energy conservation and clean power generation. Reduced and smarter energy consumption directly benefits consumers by reducing energy bills, creating new jobs, and reducing our need for new fossil fuel power plants. As the single largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, energy production poses a significant challenge in combating climate change, but also provides a meaningful opportunity. Given that the operation and maintenance of our nation’s buildings account for 40% of all energy use, increased energy efficiency has been a central focus of Global Green's efforts.
Global Green has advocated for green building policies and provided direct technical assistance to projects, which has resulted in the greening of $20 billion worth of school and affordable housing new construction in California, New Orleans, and across the country, and led to significant reductions in these buildings’ electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to economic and environmental benefits, green affordable housing, schools, and communities improve the lives and health of people. Green homes are less toxic to inhabitants; and, studies of green schools reveal numerous benefits, including reduced rates of asthma and other respiratory disease, as well as improved student test scores.
While energy efficient new construction constitutes an important component of creating greener cities, the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency is found in existing buildings. Increased energy efficiency directly benefits all consumers by shrinking energy bills, creating new jobs, and reducing our need for new power plants. In addition, if we can further reduce energy use and increase the reliability of the electric grid through better visibility, transparency, and integrated distributed renewable generation, like solar and wind, we also reduce the need for peaker plants, typically the dirtiest of all power sources since they operate only during peak periods of demand.
Unfortunately, insufficient financing, uninformed building owners, and a lack of appropriate incentives represent just some of the market barriers to more investment in energy efficiency. To address these barriers, Global Green has championed green building, solar, and energy efficiency policies at the local, state, and federal levels. Sponsored by Global Green and signed into law on October 11, 2009, California Assembly Bill 758 mandates increased energy efficiency in existing buildings and marks a major step forward in reducing energy production and consumption.
The design and implementation of this law will ultimately help set the stage for innovation and strategy development to increase the efficiency of our country's entire stock of buildings. Moving forward, our nation needs a combination of dynamic programs to not only radically reduce our carbon footprint, but also allow citizens to play a direct role in successfully combating climate change.
Unfortunately, our shockingly "dumb" electrical grid poses another challenge to sound energy policy. Our current primary power delivery system, the electric grid, lacks the intelligence and adaptability of most other modern ubiquitous systems, such as the Internet and our telecommunications system.
A "smart grid," by providing consumers with the ability to see, in real-time, the costs attached to their energy consumption, can foster a more efficient use of resources, reduce peak demand, and provide a cleaner, more reliable, and affordable electricity product.
Our report highlights the need for integrated strategies in reducing energy use, increased distributed renewable energy generation, and a more intelligent electrical grid and explores the role of the "smart grid" in developing a more sustainable, energy efficient future.