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Politico event highlights energy efficiency as critical component of U.S. energy policy

We’ve said it before: reduced energy demand is the cleanest energy there is, and last week’s “Energy and the Presidency: The Shift from Campaigning to Policymaking” event helped to drive home that point for U.S. lawmakers and reporters in Washington, DC.

Hosted by Politico, the event featured distinguished speakers Sens. Udall (D-Colo.), Manchin (D-W.V.) and Hoeven (R-N.D.); Rep. Whitfield (R-Ky.); Karen Harbert, president and CEO, Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Jeff Holmstead, former assistant administrator, U.S. EPA.

WATCH the 75-min video recap on

It’s clear that we can reduce our country’s energy demand by working to maximize efficiency in the commercial, residential and industrial sectors. And chemistry can play a big role, since nearly every energy efficient technology is dependent on innovations in chemistry, including…

  • Enabled by innovations in chemistry, building insulation saves up to 40 times the energy used to create it; plastic house wrap that creates a weather resistant barrier saves up to 360 times the energy used to produce it
  • Chemistry-driven plastic auto parts now make up 50 percent of the volume of today’s new cars, dramatically reducing vehicle weight to significantly improve gas mileage—by up to seven percent for each 10 percent in weight reduction—while playing a critical role in helping improve vehicle safety
  • Chemistry enables compact fluorescent bulbs to “fluoresce” and to use 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs—and LED lighting could cut global energy demand by a whopping 30 percent
  • Replacing an old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified model—with improved insulation and coolant systems made possible by chemistry—saves enough energy to light an average house for nearly four months
  • Strong yet lightweight plastic packaging allows more products to be shipped with less weight, lightening the load and saving energy from factory to home.

Updating building codes

A recent ACC analysis found that chemistry in energy-saving products and technologies helps save up to 10.9 quadrillion Btus of energy annually, enough to power, heat and cool up to 56 million households or run up to 135 million vehicles each year.

In addition, a McKinsey & Company study found that for every unit of CO2 emitted in the manufacturing of the products of chemistry, two units of CO2 are saved through the energy savings enabled by those products.

By updating state building codes, we could increase the use of chemistry products and the various energy efficiency technologies they support, while boosting energy savings and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Combined heat and power (CHP)

Boosting efficiency doesn’t stop with commercial and residential sectors — it expands into the industrial arena as well.

Chemical manufacturers rely on natural gas not only for its rich ethane content, which we use to make the products that enable energy efficiency technologies, but also to create two forms of energy—steam and electricity—for industrial facilities.

This energy, known as “combined heat and power” (CHP), is generated close to where it is needed, so little is lost in transmission. CHP can produce energy twice as efficiently as older coal-burning electric utilities and must be expanded to further support making our country more energy efficient.

To learn more about chemistry’s role in making our nation more energy efficient and energy secure, please visit:

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