The buildings sector is responsible for approximately 35 percent of U.S. green-house gas emissions. Most of the emissions result from the electricity needed to run appliances and equipment in buildings, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. Studies show that many homes and businesses could reduce their energy use by about 30 percent using proven, cost-effective products, and investing in simple profitable building upgrades. A variety of DOE and EPA programs focus on developing and promoting the broader use of cleaner and more efficient building and appliance technologies. The programs include:

  • Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH)
  • Energy Efficiency Standards for Equipment and Appliances
  • ENERGY STAR Partnerships
  • Energy Efficiency in Schools

Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH)

PATH is a partnership between the Federal government and the building industry to develop and deploy housing technologies to make new homes 50 percent more energy efficient and to make at least 15 million existing homes 30 percent more energy efficient with-in a decade. Meeting PATH's goals would reduce annual carbon emissions in 2010 by an amount equal to nearly 24 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE) — the amount produced by some 20 million cars — and would save consumers $11 billion a year in energy costs. PATH has established five pilot communities in Denver, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Tucson that are incorporating new housing technologies and advanced building concepts.

Energy Efficiency Standards for Equipment and Appliances

To save energy and reduce consumer utility bills, the U.S. government develops test procedures and national minimum energy efficiency standards for equipment and appliances, such as heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, lighting, refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers, and cooking equipment. Through 1997, residential appliance standards avoided cumulative emissions of 37 MMTCE and saved consumers a cumulative $13.3 billion. By 2010, the currently enacted standards will have avoided cumulative emissions of more than more than 225 MMTCE and saved consumers almost $50 billion.

In the upcoming year, the U.S. government expects to publish standards for clothes washers, water heaters, fluorescent lamp ballasts, and central air conditioners. These standards, and the recently enacted standards for refrigerators and room air conditioners, are expected to have avoided cumulative emissions of almost 12 MMTCE through 2010.

ENERGY STAR Partnerships

The ENERGY STAR partnership programs are designed to remove market barriers to the purchase of energy efficient products, services, and technologies in residential, commercial. and industrial buildings.

  • The ENERGY STAR Products program allows manufactures of selected energy efficient products to promote their products with the ENERGY STAR label. This allows consumers to easily identify products that help the environment and save energy and money. More than 3,000 highly efficient ENERGY STAR product models, ranging from computers to refrigerators to central air-conditioning units, currently are available to consumers.
  • The ENERGY STAR Buildings SM Partnership encourages individual building owners, developers, and managers to install energy efficient lighting and undertake a five-stage strategy to capitalize on system interactions that maximize energy savings at minimum cost. To date, buildings representing more than 13 percent of U.S. commercial square footage have signed up for the program. Among them are the Empire State Building, World Trade Center, and Chicago's Sears Tower.

EPA estimates that by 2010 investments in ENERGY STAR technologies and services already in place today will reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 40 MMTCE and save consumers and businesses more than $13 billion in energy costs.

Energy Efficiency in Schools

The energy to run the nation's 115,000 primary and secondary schools costs approximately $5 billion annually — more than the cost of textbooks and computers combined. DOE and EPA have two programs that are working in coordination to improve energy efficiency in U.S. primary and secondary schools. DOE's Energy Smart Schools works in partner-ship with major companies, unions, nonprofits, and Federal, state, and local agencies to cut energy bills in schools so that the savings can be reinvested in students and their education. EPA's ENERGY STAR Label for Schools provides tools for schools to evaluate their own energy use, find ways to reduce it, and meet indoor air quality standards. DOE estimates that a 25 percent reduction in schools' energy use will cut annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 3 to 4 MMTCE.


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