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In an Age of Cheap Solar Does Efficiency Still Matter?

CheapSolarFrom an article written by Peter Rumsey, PE Guest Author for Rocky Mountain Institute Outlet.

The old saws of the building management industry are:

  1. “The cheapest energy you can buy is the energy you don’t use.”

  2. “Efficiency first” – evaluate and conduct energy efficiency measures first and then cover the remaining balance of energy needs with renewables.

But with the costs of renewables coming down, do the old saws still apply? Are there renewable energy benefits that override the emphasis on energy efficiency?

This article, written by AEE’s 2012 Renewable Energy Innovator of the Year and ASHRAE’s Engineering Award of Excellence in 2013, reveals some of the reasons building owners are opting to adopt renewable energy solutions without reducing demand first. Some EE measures are expensive but there are also time and corporate image issues at stake.

In short, “Solar is sexy and people don’t fall in love with efficiency.” (Dian Gruenieich formerly a California Public Utilities Commissioner).

Peter Rumsey, PE is the founder of Point Energy Innovations and is internationally recognized for his innovation and leadership in the sustainability and energy efficiency fields. He has designed more LEED Platinum, Zero Energy, and radiant-cooled buildings than any engineer in the United States. Peter is an ASHRAE Fellow, a lecturer at Stanford University, and has served as a senior fellow of RMI.


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