The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is launching a new research project this year to explore how energy-efficient systems can help a community withstand extreme weather and economic stresses.
A recent ACEEE blog post suggested ways in which energy-saving measures might enhance a community’s resiliency. In a direct example, combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems kept the power on at critical facilities during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. While 8.5 million customers lost power, some hospitals, residential buildings, universities and public services were able to continue operating and provide services to citizens. CHP generators tend to use natural gas and highly efficient turbines and engines to serve very local loads, but can also run on biomass or biogas in times of disaster.
Embracing energy efficiency may protect communities in less obvious ways. “Resource resiliency” refers to reducing a community’s demand for natural resources, thereby freeing income to spend on other needs that benefit the local economy. Individuals and communities could invest their energy cost savings in safer and more durable buildings, distributed generation systems or effective emergency management plans.
Energy efficiency offers other long-term benefits to the community, such as creating more economic activity and jobs. Should the unthinkable happen, a vital local economy will be in a better position than a depressed one to recover from a disaster. Reduced energy use also means fewer emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, leading to improved public health.
The ACEEE study will explore opportunities in policy and program development to integrate efficiency and resilience efforts, and attempt to determine metrics for measuring efficiency-related resiliency. Researchers are encouraging members of the energy- efficiency and resilience communities to share their views on the efficiency-resilience interconnection. Suggestions about valuable literature, case studies, potential metrics and policy and program opportunities are also welcomed. ACEEE expects to release the research report this coming summer.
Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 2/4/15