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Home / Energy Efficiency and Material Conservation

Energy Efficiency and Material Conservation

What do you know about Energy use and its cost in the World, in the U.S. and within the U.S. Commercial Building Sector?

Did you know that in the U.S. we use approximately 19 million barrels of crude oil per day?  A staggering sum I would say.  However this is down from the 20 million plus barrels of oil per day we consumed pre-2008.  The U.S. uses approximately 20% of the total energy consumed globally. China and the U.S. consume about the same amount of energy.  Total world energy consumption is about 120 Quadrillion BTU’s per year at a cost of more than 14 Trillion dollars.

Commercial Building Energy Consumption DOE Buildings Data Book 2011

Did you know that U.S. consumer energy expenditures exceeded more than one trillion dollars per year in 2013?  Did you know that approximately 20 percent of U.S. primary energy was consumed by the commercial buildings sector?

Cost of U.S. energy expenditures EIA Annual Energy Review 2011

Did you know that U.S. Commercial buildings sector energy consumption reached approximately 18 Quadrillon BTU’s in 2009?  Did you know that the U.S. Commercial buildings sector uses approximately 40% of its total energy for heating and cooling that translates into expenditures of greater than 85 Billion dollars?

Commercial Building Energy Use by sector DOE Buildings Data Book 2011

These Energy usage and expense numbers are quite profound to most observers.  But to the researchers and professionals in the fields of conservation and energy efficiency for building envelopes the data represents the potential for tremendous savings to the end user, reduced energy consumption and a cleaner environment.

Note 1:  Primary Energy Consumption: Primary energy consumption is the amount of site consumption, plus losses that occur in the generation, transmission, and distribution of energy (this amounts to approximately 65% in lost energy)

Note 2:  Data is from 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book compiled and distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Annual Energy Review 2011 distributed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Note 3: Above calculations are approximates using published data.

Whether you believe in global warming or not and whether or not you are focused on energy & material conservation in your profession, personal life or at home; a preponderance of information and data substantiates that transformation to a more energy efficient and sustainable material world has been rapidly evolving over the last decade.  In the United States we have new power generation technologies and alternative renewable energy sources coming on line or growing in megawatt (MW) capacity.  From large scale projects to that what some would speculate as insignificant and incremental improvements in all aspects of everyday business; these advancements are being driven not only by new technologies but by the application of unique, creative and novel approaches to energy and material conservation.

Large wind farms can be witnessed by any casual observer as they travel the Midwest through such states as Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, West Virginia, Illinois, and Iowa.  And Texas is a grand setting for these energy gathering renewable sites.  Commercial solar fields out west where the sun is unencumbered from overcast skies are on display in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California and elsewhere.  The continued growth in renewable energy is illustrated in the statistics provided by EIA below.

“From U.S. Energy Information Administration"

Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: September 9, 2014 | Next Release Date: October 7, 2014

Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Almost 50% of the new utility-scale power generation capacity added during the first half of 2014 uses renewable energy sources. Solar-powered capacity grew about 1,150 megawatts (MW) during the first six months of 2014 compared with 690 MW added during the same period last year. The electricity industry has added 675 MW of wind capacity this year, which is more than double the amount added during the first half of 2013.

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA projects that total renewables use for electricity and heat generation will grow by 2.1% in 2014. Conventional hydropower generation is projected to fall by 4.2%, while nonhydropower renewables rise by 5.5%. In 2014, nonhydropower renewable generation in the electric power sector surpasses hydropower on an annual basis for the first time. In 2015, total renewables

consumption for electric power and heat generation increases by 4.4%, as a result of a 4.5% increase in hydropower and a 4.4% increase in nonhydropower renewables.

EIA projects that wind power capacity will increase by 9.2% in 2014 and 16.2% in 2015. Electricity generation from wind is projected to contribute 4.6% of total electricity generation in 2015.  EIA expects continued robust growth in solar electricity generation, although the amount of utility-scale generation remains a small share of total U.S. generation at about 0.6% in 2015.

While solar growth has historically been concentrated in customer-sited distributed generation installations, utility-scale solar capacity doubled in 2013. EIA expects that utility-scale

solar capacity will increase by 104% between the end of 2013 and the end of 2015, with about two-thirds of this new capacity built in California. However, customer-sited photovoltaic capacity growth, which the STEO does not forecast, is expected to exceed utility-scale solar growth between 2013 and 2015, according to EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2014.”

“From U.S. Energy Information Administration”

In manufacturing recyclable materials now play a prominent role in new product production.  This is also the case in the pre-engineered metal building industry where metal roofing & insulation components are now composed of, to a large degree, recycled materials.  Greater than 50% of the insulation and metal panels installed to new building envelopes are comprised of recyclables.  This is an important and valuable role that the PEMB industry is playing in the fields of energy conservation and sustainability.

Energy conservation and the efficient use of limited resources is front and center today and will continue to be as; technology, research, innovation and common sense drive the transition.