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Bell-Bottoms and Energy Efficient Buildings

January 18, 2011 - 5:19pm

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This is hard to admit via blog, but I must come clean. I have fallen victim to some now seemingly ridiculous trends during my life. A few of them include wearing bell-bottoms in the 70s, sporting a "Members Only" jacket in the 80s, and rocking Ray-Bans and Maui Jims in the 90s (well, technically I still wear Maui Jims). What was I thinking? This tri-fecta of bad fashion and wrong choices makes me wonder…

  • What characteristic makes an idea or product so exceptional that people value it?
  • What causes the popularity explosion of a YouTube video or the national obsession with a bed bug outbreak?
  • Is there a science to producing popularity?
  • What would it take to make energy efficiency trendy?

In the Building Technologies Program, we employ three basic rules that provide answers to these apparently impossible questions. We (1) involve those who are highly connected and possess a rare set of social abilities to be leaders in the trend, (2) ensure the content, design, and delivery of a message provide a long-lasting, valuable impact, and (3) stay aware and sensitive to current environmental influences. These three concepts have helped us achieve success in making ‘the needle move’ last year…

The Commercial Building Energy Alliances bring together industry movers and shakers:

Unique partnerships between DOE and big brands allow us to use collective market share to make energy efficiency products and tools trendy. For example, our retailer energy alliance brings names like Walmart, Best Buy, The Home Depot, Whole Foods Market, and others to the table to make big changes. In 2010 Walmart utilized a LED site lighting specification in 2 stores and will be using it in 12 additional stores totaling almost 10 million square feet. The projected energy savings are estimated to be 2,881mWh per year, which is equivalent to the electricity used by 261 homes. Walmart is only one retailer we work with who is helping pave the way.

Our Emerging Technologies team provides innovation and “outside of the box” thinking to develop sticky and effective ideas:

Last year our emerging technologies team played an instrumental role in bringing to market affordable highly insulating windows, windows that are two times more energy efficient than Energy Star windows. These windows only cost a homeowner $2 to $4 more per square foot and provide an average of 30% reduction in heat loss. Plus, our windows volume purchasing program brings together over 40 certified vendors to simplify purchasing for contractors and building owners. Pun intended, this really is a window of opportunity…

New Codes and Efficiency Standards for Appliances improve our buildings and consumer products:

In October, building code officials from across the nation achieved our collective goal of a 30% increase in energy savings compared to the 2006 code. This represents the largest single-step efficiency increase in the history of the U.S. model energy code.

By June 2011, our regulatory team in collaboration with industry partners, utilities, consumers, and environmental groups will have completed all of the specific appliance standards mandated by Congress over the past three decades. Talk about massive impact: appliance standards save Americans annually 1.8 quads of energy per year and $20 billion in reduced utility bills. That energy savings is like taking 25 million cars off the road. It’s also equivalent to the electricity used in 9.6 million homes or all the homes in Texas AND New Mexico combined. The program is now examining a whole set of new and more creative ways to save consumers energy and money by designing standards that can encourage new technologies and new products to compete in an increasingly green marketplace. Just wait to see how much more money we can save through energy efficiency in the future.

It’s all about gaining momentum this year. We’re going to use the programs we’ve worked so hard on this last decade as tools for moving that needle further and further.

Keep your eyes peeled for what comes next and join us in helping to create a trend better than any of the 70s, 80s, or 90s fashion or gimmick trends you cringe over in photo albums. We’re looking forward to the beginning of a new decade as the future promises to be truly brighter and cleaner than ever.

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