Green building

From HousingWiki

Energy Efficiency issues

"higher efficiency does not necessarily translate to lower consumption or emissions, and houses (and “lifestyles”) with less efficient goods may use less energy than those with more efficient goods (Harris et al. 2008; Moezzi and Diamond 2005). Furthermore device- and structure-oriented strategies bypass bigger questions about the overall energy intensity of society (Wilhite et al. 2000)." - (Moezzi and Lutzenhiser 2010).

Dunlop, Tessa (2019). "Mind the gap: A social sciences review of energy efficiency." Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 56, 2019, 101216, ISSN 2214-6296. [Open Access].

ABSTRACT: "Energy efficiency is a complex concept which is represented in diverse fields including engineering, economics, energy, computer sciences, environmental sciences, mathematics and physics. The social sciences literature on energy efficiency, however, remains significantly underrepresented, comprising just 2.6% of the total energy efficiency literature found in this study. Energy efficiency is an important energy policy strategy globally to reduce energy consumption, secure energy supply, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, however, evidence shows that on a global scale, energy demand is rising and climate mitigation targets are not being met. There is an acknowledgement by scientists that these challenges cannot be viewed as simply technical in nature but rather the product of collective social and cultural factors. Therefore, more social science research is needed to support an energy transition towards cleaner energy sources. Specifically, there is a need to further disentangle what is meant by energy efficiency from a social sciences perspective, including, critically, its conceptual foundations and practical applications. This review seeks to understand these issues by exploring how energy efficiency is conceptualized, both historically and today, by different actors. Research shows that the way that the concept of energy efficiency is applied to the physical, material world is a value judgement that brings with it societal trade-offs that are not fully understood. That is, that applying any given conceptualization or methodology of energy efficiency to physical processes can privilege certain interests over others, and affect society in different ways. For example, such tradeoffs include pollution displacement, lower than expected energy savings and an unfair cost burden on certain groups. Bringing together technical and qualitative insights from economics, energy, engineering, science and technology studies and history, this review builds on the work of efficiency and energy social scientists to illustrate what we need to do in order to bridge a conceptual gap in the energy efficiency literature, and in practice. The findings show a diversity of conceptualizations in the energy efficiency literature, highlighting the fact that energy efficiency can mean different things depending on how it is defined and applied. The review finds that greater efforts are needed to integrate energy efficiency discussions into sociological frames including ethics, equality, philosophy and history for more diverse, comprehensive and balanced research.

Lutzenhiser, Loren (2014). "Through the energy efficiency looking glass." Energy Research & Social Science, Vol 1, 2014. Pp 141-151.

Abstract: "Energy efficiency is an important approach to mitigating climate change, minimizing energy system costs and improving system reliability. There is a role for the social sciences in these sorts of efforts to reduce energy waste. However, a singularly narrow theoretical and policy model of energy use and energy savings governs energy efficiency activities in the United States (and, to some degree, in Europe), as conducted by regulated utility companies and state actors. Firmly established in recent decades, an energy efficiency industry (EEI) is guided by this narrow model, which supplies a unifying conceptual frame, analytic paradigm and discursive context. That model is not hospitable to the social sciences and is extremely limited from a climate action point of view. The partial perspectives offered tend to misdirect attention and hamper the best efforts. This paper considers, in some detail, the organizational and regulatory systems that have given rise to, and sustain, this framework. It also offers a social science research agenda that might allow society to move beyond conventional thinking and the limitations of ineffective climate policy that follow from EEI business as usual."

Moezzi M. "Decoupling Energy Efficiency from Energy Consumption." Energy & Environment. 2000;11(5):521-537. Moezzi, Mithra. (1998). "The Predicament of Efficiency." In Proceedings of ACEEE 1998 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Washington, D.C.: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Abstract: "In contemporary American energy policy, energy efficiency has superseded energy conservation as the principal metric by which consumer energy choices are judged. However, narrow application of the idea of energy efficiency focuses on technological aspects of energy use and overlooks the human behaviors that drive energy consumption. In addition, energy efficiency does not necessarily save energy. Although energy efficiency has increased in the United States during the past 30 years, so has net energy consumption per capita. This paper examines unintended consequences of focusing energy policies on energy efficiency. A better understanding of these consequences can lead to improvements in the effectiveness and equity of energy policies by helping to recast policy so that it more fully considers absolute levels of consumption in addition to technical efficiency."

Moezzi M. book review: Moezzi, Mithra and Lutzenhiser, Loren, "What’s Missing in Theories of the Residential Energy User" (2010). Center for Urban Studies Publications and Reports. 151. [Open Access].

ABSTRACT: "Residential energy use has been envisioned in varied ways, each highlighting different factors and capturing a partial truth. This paper outlines assumptions of core theories about household energy use. It gives an abbreviated list of major empirical findings framed by these theories. It then identifies a new set of “blind spots” created by overly-simple reliance on models and by data shortcomings that in combination may block development of a more sophisticated understanding of energy use. Policies and program strategies, in turn, can become oriented toward simplistic approaches to change. We point to the need for improved interpretation and elaboration of existing theories, and accordingly toward richer comprehension of energy users and the dynamics of energy use, suitable to the wider policy world of climate change and sustainability that the energy use research field now faces.

Shove, Elizabeth (2018). "What is wrong with energy efficiency? Building Research & Information, 46:7, 779-789.

ABSTRACT: "At first sight the purpose of energy efficiency is plain: it is to reduce the amount of energy used and the carbon emissions associated with the design and operation of things like buildings, domestic appliances, and heating and cooling technologies, or with the organization of bureaucratic, business or industrial processes. National and international responses to climate change are dominated by policies that promote energy efficiency and by people who take this to be a self-evidently important thing to do. Established criticisms, including those which focus on problems of rebound, draw attention to the unintended consequences of such strategies, but rarely challenge the conceptual foundations of ‘efficiency’ as a topic in its own right. This paper uses Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern (1993) notion of purification and Ian Hodder’s Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships Between Humans and Things (2012) ideas about entanglement to develop a more fundamental critique and to argue that, far from being a solution, efficiency, as currently constituted, undermines that which it is expected to achieve. It is concluded that if carbon emissions are to be reduced on any significant scale, then it is essential to consider the meanings and levels of service and the types of consumption and demand that efficiency policies support and perpetuate."

Oregon Building Code - energy efficiency

May Vogel, in Portland, OR Small Developer Alliance facebook group, January 2021:

"Seems like most of you are tired of dealing with policy, but does that extend to building code? The Residential and Manufactured Structures Board of the Building Code Division is meeting Jan. 6 and there may be things you want to have input on."

from that document, my attention was caught by a comment from Zero Energy Ready Oregon (ZERO) Coalition, so I commented (

"I don't have much context about this, but was curious about this note:

"the ZERO Coalition proposed...altering the number of additional measures that are required using a sliding scale based on home size. The committee discussed the proposal and declined the change."

If I may be allowed a sort of naive and very basic question: in what ways if any under current or proposed ORSC / ORRC code might a builder achieve code compliance, all or in part, by demonstrating lower *actual* energy use, particularly by building smaller homes?

Also, relatedly, does Oregon building code consider embodied, or just operational energy use, of housing?

It looks like the ORSC measures discussed are fairly prescriptive, e.g. discussing types of HVAC and water heating; and like such codes normally do, they address efficiency as in outputs achieved per energy input, or per section of window or wall, or perhaps relative to total square footage. However is there a way it might be assessed per resident?"