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Dennis Roberts's picture
President, Energy Efficiency Done Right

About the author: Dennis G. Roberts President of Energy Efficiency Done Right Consultant to Gerson Lehrman Group and TGR Research for Energy Efficiency and Windows Past contributing author...

  • Member since 2005
  • 57 items added with 27,193 views
  • Feb 14, 2022

Sustainability is job one now and our planet, our governments, and corporations are largely underperforming. If we were doing a good job, we would all have the same goals and be somewhat on the same path. Most participants however are meandering toward sustainability but much of the effort and resources are not being efficiently utilized. I say we because I have been in the sustainable industry for over twenty years as the head of a efficiency product providing company that is now part of the Conservation Technologies Group. Much of my work is studying, analyzing, and making presentations to sustainable groups, funding organizations, governmental entities, and companies and that effort has led me to conclude that US and global sustainability efforts are dysfunctional, and that we need to do a much better job.

A primary job area where we have not made enough progress in sustainability is energy demand reduction. According to Materials for Energy Efficiency and Thermal Comfort in Buildings- “Almost half of the total energy produced in the developed world is inefficiently used to heat, cool, ventilate and control humidity in buildings, to meet the increasingly high thermal comfort levels demanded by occupants”.

We must do a much better job on energy demand reduction. In the recent US Department of Energy Better Buildings Report-"When pursuing a decarbonization plan, DOE is encouraging partners to lead with energy efficiency. Energy not used is energy saved, making the transition to clean, renewable energy infrastructure easier.“ If energy demand reduction is not the first priority then we will be producing energy that is being wasted. Reduce energy use then right size renewables.

Secondly sustainable planning should include human capital costs as a major consideration. Some experts have said that building occupant productivity considerations are fifty times more important than any other building benefit. Please note the “increasingly high thermal comfort levels demanded by occupants” part of the above quote. The main reasons people are uncomfortable where they live and work are long wave radiation, solar radiation, and the convection loop and all the issues are improved by energy saving enveloping improvements.

Building science, modification techniques, and analytical tools are getting better and better. Yet sustainable planning is not keeping pace.

Everyone benefits from great sustainability planning and implementation. Our buildings and structures are responsible for over seventy per cent of electricity usage and forty per cent of carbon emissions. Building infiltration is estimated to be responsible for 6-9% of our total energy usage. Most people are in buildings and structures most of their lives. If we can make sure they are efficient and comfortable as sustainability goals , we will get better results.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 14, 2022

Building science, modification techniques, and analytical tools are getting better and better. Yet sustainable planning is not keeping pace.

This is a concerning trend in a lot of ways-- the technological advances can only do so much if we don't find the ways to efficiently and effectively utilize them!

Dennis Roberts's picture
Dennis Roberts on Feb 16, 2022

It is very disappointing that planning and implementation are not equal to the challenge in most cases. Individually and collectively, we can and should do much better considering what we know and what resources are available. . 

Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Feb 17, 2022

Disappointing, yes. But arguably inevitable, until we can find our way around the perverse incentives of our current economic system. See, e.g., Sustaining the Unsustainable: Why Renewable Energy Companies Are Not Climate Warriors

Dennis Roberts's picture
Dennis Roberts on Feb 22, 2022

Roger Arnold- Thank you for your great comments and the article. Our current path is more off track than on and our progress can and must be more effective. Energy demand reduction is our critical first step and we are not addressing it with the urgency needed. 

Dennis Roberts's picture
Thank Dennis for the Post!
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