Important new report on residential sector energy performance

Michael MacDonald from the Energy Performance Measurement Institute has recently published a new report on-line on residential sector energy performance. As he states in the foreword, “This book is aimed at informing people about energy use in the residential sector worldwide and what can be done to make politicians and others more accountable for improving the energy performance of the sector, which is probably important if emissions reductions are desired. The tone is not scholarly and hopefully not too blunt.” The following is the synopsis of the report.


Shaping Residential Sector Energy Performance by Michael MacDonald

Energy is a complicated topic, and energy performance can also be challenging to determine. This book is about understanding and shaping energy performance of an entire economic sector, using the residential sector as the example, although not at a detailed level. The historical record of attempts to reduce energy use or carbon emissions of countries and the world is primarily one of failure. Should the response to continued failure be to continue to do more of the same? Insanity is sometimes defined in such a manner. The contention here is that change is needed.

Significant information on worldwide energy use and residential sector energy use is presented, including many factors that are unique to the residential sector. Energy performance measurement methods and data are also presented. Simplification of residential sector energy performance measurement is a key theme. If residential energy performance is easy to understand, more people can be engaged in discussing and promoting improvement.

Simple key performance indicators are used to present the state of the world residential sector, with additional detail on the United States and Europe, as well as developed countries as a bloc and developing countries as a bloc. Knowledge about the residential sector is used to identify policy considerations. The last part of the book is about energy and carbon reduction policies: how historical policies have not worked and the extent of what must be done if real results are desired. However, a complete solution cannot be presented in the short space here. Extensive program development is still needed.

The history of energy/carbon reduction policies is one of a continual quixotic quest for magic bullets to shoot at the problems and have them be killed off. That history continues today with presentation of magic technologies that will solve all the problems. Energy efficiency has been mostly ignored for decades, despite lip service on how important efficiency is. Information on scoping of large-scale energy efficiency programs is presented to allow better understanding of how much must be done to actually impact energy use on a scale that can be seen worldwide.

Using the information in this book, readers are invited to respond by asking central planners and policy makers to start making the energy and carbon situation more understandable and initiating commitments on the scale needed to achieve real worldwide efficiency impacts, instead of throwing too many trillions at magic bullets.

The report is available here.


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