A study published by global management consultants McKinsey & Company claims that energy use in the US could be cut by 23% over the next 11 years with an investment of around $520bn, leading to annual savings of $130bn.

According to the report the reduction in energy use would also result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking the entire US fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks, more than 200 million vehicles, off the roads.

While the focus is on buildings, the study covers all energy use outside the transport sector.

It stresses that while the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency seem, on the face of it, obvious, there are several ‘persistent and widespread’ barriers to overcome if the full extent of the country’s potential is to be reached.

The study claims government and the private sector will need to look at incentives and financing, deployment of resources well beyond the current level and a broad education campaign.

A pdf of the full 144-page report, Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the US Economy can be found on the McKinsey website or follow this link for the executive summary.

The US Green Building Council has warmly welcomed the report, saying it highlights the need for up-front investment for long term gains.

“This confirms a critical path forward that we have long championed. Harnessing the engine of green, energy efficient buildings can cost-effectively drive tremendous improvements in our economy and environment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president of USGBC.

“Green building can stimulate the economy at a level one and a half times larger than the federal stimulus bill.”

Sam Bond

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