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Press Releases :: April 28, 2009

Cutting-Edge Research, Technology Could Improve Energy Efficiency in Buildings and Industry, Committee Hears


(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) held a hearing on the role of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) research and development programs in developing technologies, codes, and standards to enable deployment of net-zero energy, high-performance buildings and support energy efficiency in domestic industries.  

“Energy efficiency and conservation will have the greatest near-term impact of any approach to our energy security and global over heating problems,” said Baird. “Today's buildings consume 40 percent of our country’s energy – more than any other sector of the U.S. economy. And together, the building and industrial sectors are responsible for almost three quarters of U.S. energy consumption.” 

The construction, operation, and demolition of buildings are recognized as major contributing factors to the increase in energy consumption, emission of greenhouse gases, depletion of valuable natural resources, and degradation of ecological services such as water supply. The domestic industrial sector, while making considerable gains in energy and resource efficiency in recent years, still comprises a significant portion of the country’s emissions, and is more vulnerable than ever to rising costs of energy and raw materials. To reduce both emissions and waste, and improve the nation’s overall energy efficiency new advancements in industrial and building technologies must be pursued by both the public and private sector.  

DOE has several programs working to improve efficiency in the building sector. The Building Technologies Program and, within this, the activities of the High Performance Buildings and Net-Zero Energy Commercial Buildings initiatives, support advanced technology development for buildings, and their associated equipment, materials, and systems. The Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), within the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) works to reduce energy intensity and carbon emissions of industry through cost-shared R&D, energy auditing, and dissemination of best practices.  

“While these programs have proven successful over the years, we still have a very long way to go in maximizing the nation’s efficiency,” said Baird. “Pushing the efficiency envelope will require us to combine the expertise of multiple disciplines, or look in entirely new directions for scientific and technological insight.”  

In addition to witnesses from the public and private sector, Members heard testimony on the need for increased research support to investigate and apply insights from the social and behavioral sciences. A witness testified that insights from the social and behavioral sciences could help maximize potential technology-based savings; improve decision making; and reveal social, behavioral, and cultural means of motivating and facilitating smart energy behaviors.            

“Insight into how consumers receive and react to information will be critical for progress in areas such as the development of a whole-building approach to design and operation of building systems,” said Baird. 

For more information, please see the Committee website.   



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