Another way to reduce energy consumption and cut back on utility costs is through the adoption and implementation of an energy conservation policy. Energy conservation policies typically outline reduction targets.
DSIRE - DSIRE is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency and will prove an invaluable resource for you both during your time as a student and once you find yourself working as an energy industry professional.; DSIRE is a comprehensive repository of all state-level incentives across the country for both renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. They also house information about federal incentives and programs that extend beyond energy conservation. Be sure to consult this website to learn more about opportunities that exist in your own state, and opportunities that may be applicable to your Research Project, e.g. by piggybacking on existing incentive programs. (Sometimes the main site does not work, so see an overview of state-level policies here.)
ACEEE - the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is also another wealth of information -- specifically relating to energy conservation policies. They have some helpful information on state-level policies here. You may want to view their State Efficiency Scorecard here.
Recent energy legislation passed at the federal level mandates conservation policies for federal buildings and purchases. Listed below are some of the highlights of these policies. To learn more about federal energy conservation efforts, read the full report from the Congressional Research Service on the Department of Defense Facilities Energy Conservation Policies and Spending (2009).
You should also take a look at the fully amended National Energy Conservation Policy Act. This act, initially passed in 1978, has been amended several times to meet the changing goals of national energy policy and the evolving technologies we can employ to meet these goals.
Energy Policy Act of 2005
- mandates use of advanced meters to reduce electricity use in federal buildings by October 1, 2012;
- adopts 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (Supplement to 2003) - requires revised energy efficiency standards and 30% reduction in consumption of new federal buildings over previous standards;
- requires purchase of increasing percentages of renewable energy, beginning with 3% in 2005 to at least 7.5% in 2013 and after.
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
- requires 30% energy reduction in federal buildings by 2015 (relative to 2005 baseline);
- designates 'covered facility' criteria for federal agencies to follow when implementing evaluations of energy and water and assigning energy managers;
- requires 55% reduced fossil fuel energy in new federal buildings (and major renovations) by 2010 (relative to 2003 baseline) and then a full 100% reduction in fossil fuels by 2030;
- requires that federal agencies must ensure energy life-cycle cost effectiveness for major equipment replacements, renovations, or expansions;
- prohibits federal agencies from leasing buildings that have not earned the EPA ENERGY STAR label;
- calls for the establishment of high-performance green building standards for all types of federal facilities, as well as green practices that can be used throughout the life of a facility;
- appropriates funds and private financing for Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs); permanently authorizes ESPCs;
- directs the Department of Defense to evaluate the use of ESPCs for non-building uses;
- requires that federal agencies can only procure alternative fuels whose life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are not more than conventional emissions from petroleum-based sources.
Inflation Reducation Act
- "Extends credit for energy efficiency home improvements through 2032...Increases credit from 10% to 30%," adds annual $1200 cap instead of lifetime limits;
- provides subsidy for home energy audits;
- provides funding for states to establish HOMES rebate programs for whole-house energy retrofits, with special fudning available for low- to moderate-income indivuals;
- provides significant incentives for various aspects of electrification (electrical panel upgrades, high efficiency heat pumps and hot water heaters, and electric stoves);
- provides funding to help states establish programs to train contractors to install efficiency upgrades.
Some policies that may affect energy efficiency and conservation include:
- Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants may be used for "projects related to climate change and air pollution...including air pollution monitoring, extreme heat risk mitigation, resiliency and adaptation, indoor pollution reduction, and community engagement."
- Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants may be used to reduce GHG emissions;
- The Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) received $2 billion in funding "to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements," and the federal cost share for grants increased to 50% from 25%.
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center
Energy conservation policy is a great example of a form of energy policy that can be implemented with much success at the local level. Energy conservation translates to avoided energy costs, and local municipalities and other governments are highly motivated to reduce operating costs. Programs with a local scale are more easily relatable to people, and therefore often enjoy greater success.
This graph illustrates the types of energy conservation policies employed by 2,176 local governments that responded to the 2010 Sustainability Survey administered by the International City/County Management Association. You can download the full survey results.