A new white paper from the National Governors Association outlines measures states have taken to increase energy efficiency, and steps for governors and states to consider as they continue to examine policy innovations and best practices.

Energy efficiency is becoming even more important not only as instrumental to least-cost resource planning for power generation (as shown in the graphic), but also as a decarbonization strategy as governments get more serious about addressing climate change.

Energy efficiency measures and their resulting emissions reductions are vital to meeting ambitious state and federal decarbonization goals. Sixteen Governors plus D.C. have ordered or signed into law 100 percent clean energy or zero-carbon electricity generation goals. Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker also signed into law recent climate legislation and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also issued an executive order in 2020 setting a goal of making Louisiana carbon neutral by 2050 and joined the U.S. Climate Alliance in May 2021.3,4 The Biden-Harris Administration has also established decarbonization targets and prioritized energy efficiency by executive order putting “the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050” and setting energy efficiency and renewable energy investment priorities for environmental justice priorities. The recently proposed federal infrastructure plan has a goal of achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and envisions adopting a combined federal clean energy and energy efficiency standard.

Further, energy efficiency reduces building operating costs, enhances energy resiliency and reliability, and fosters economic development.

Lighting is identified several times as a staple energy efficiency measure, but interestingly, the whitepaper’s authors also eye the strong potential for data-generating building automation:

Energy efficiency plays an important role in meeting state energy and environmental goals. Now, in addition to traditional energy efficiency measures that are often thought of as LED lighting and energy efficient appliances, new digital and data-driven solutions, such as building automation, are creating new opportunities for Governors and state energy policymakers to pursue.

Over the past 20 years, energy intensity, or energy use relative to economic output, has been cut in half, and is expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 1.5% through 2050. To take advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption, Governors have a robust set of policy levers and tools they can consider, which are outlined in the paper.

Click here to check it out.