The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)’s International Symposium on Energy Efficiency (#ISEE18) in Washington last month provided a prime opportunity to explore how energy efficiency can contribute to a sustainable future. Leaders from business, government and academia shared best practices in “doing more with less.”
Chemistry has an essential role. For over a century, chemistry has enabled solutions to some of the world’s most daunting sustainability challenges. This includes the desire to use energy wisely – making supplies go further while reducing emissions and lowering costs for families and businesses.
Chemistry is the power behind building insulation, sealants and wraps that save energy in our homes, offices and factories; lightweight plastic and composite auto parts that improve fuel efficiency; and new technologies that are revolutionizing the way we generate and store energy — from solar cells and wind turbines to rechargeable batteries and more.
Here are a few highlights from the ACEEE symposium:
- Adopting updated building energy codes helps ensure the construction of energy-efficient buildings and homes, but some states are lagging behind, said ACEEE’s Jennifer Amann.
- Vehicle efficiency improvement can be achieved through complementary approaches including performance standards and technological innovation, said Zifei Yang of ICCT.
- The French government has launched a plan to renovate 500,000 homes per year to make them energy efficient and cut heat loss, electricity consumption and emissions, said Carine Sebi of Grenoble Business School. Individual coaching and training is a key part of the program. Bon travail!
- Industrial strategic energy management enables more cost-effective and rapid investment in advanced energy efficient technologies, said Paul Scheihing of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Chemistry drives energy efficiency innovation
The chemistry industry is a leader in the use of combined heat and power (CHP), which provides electric power and heat from a single fuel source. Because energy is generated close to where it’s needed, little is lost in transmission. CHP facilities are often twice as efficient as older coal-burning utilities. Increased use of CHP and other forms of distributed generation could help ease a major transition in the U.S. power sector as many coal-fired plants are retired.
The chemical industry has been a pioneer in the development of catalytic technologies. Catalysts are added substances that increase the rate of chemical reactions. Less energy is used per unit of product. Today, about 90% of all chemical processes employ catalysis in production, and there is enormous potential for additional energy savings. Advancements are possible in the areas of feedstock, fuels and production of some high-volume chemicals.
Improving energy performance in our own operations
Our commitment to sustainability includes our own companies and facilities. Responsible Care® is the chemical manufacturing industry’s environmental, health, safety and security performance initiative. Member companies are required to consider operational energy efficiency as well as waste minimization, reuse and recycling when developing their environmental, health, safety and security plans.
The Responsible Care Energy Efficiency Awards program is one of many ACC initiatives to improve energy efficiency. In May, ACC honored 13 of its member companies for implementing energy efficiency improvements in 2017, presenting a total of 39 awards to these companies, 13 of which were deemed programs of “Exceptional Merit.”
Learn more: www.ScienceBehindSustainability.org #ScienceBehindSustainability