The Role of Building Energy Efficiency in North Carolina’s Clean Energy Economy is Much Greater and Important Than You Know

Energy efficiency represents the largest sector of North Carolina’s clean energy economy, but you wouldn’t know it based on our state’s clean energy policies and advocacy news.  NCBPA works to promote the benefits of high performance and energy efficient buildings, particularly as it relates to energy efficiency’s foundational role in clean energy.

Learn the facts about building performance and energy efficiency here.


Energy Efficiency is the Foundation of Clean Energy

“The great thing about investing in energy efficiency is that it’s the foundation for meeting all clean energy, renewable energy, carbon emission, electric vehicle, and energy storage goals. Buildings account for nearly 60% of North Carolina’s energy usage and are the most significant contributor of carbon emissions. Clean energy and climate goals are achieved more quickly and more cost-effectively by addressing energy efficiency first.”   NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

The International Energy Agency reports that buildings represent 28% of global carbon emissions with two-thirds coming from rapidly growing electricity usage, including from electric vehicle charging stations. The agency recommends increased policy intervention and financial investment in energy efficient, high performance, and sustainable buildings, in which carbon reductions are realized faster than any other contributing sector.

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Energy Efficiency is Needed to Support Electric Vehicle Growth

Research from the Rocky Mountain Institute states that “The most cost-effective way to address the increased energy demands presented by the EV (electric vehicle) revolution is by improving the energy efficiency of buildings.”

“North Carolina has $3.4 Billion of energy savings available through building energy efficiency retrofits that can be used to offset the increased energy needs from our burgeoning electric vehicle market.”  NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

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Beneficial Energy Efficiency Policies Are Often Overlooked by Legislators and Advocates

In the past 26 years, just two significant energy efficiency policies have passed the state’s legislature: performance contracting in 2003 and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard in 2007.  Recently, win-win energy efficiency policies have been passed over by the General Assembly and key clean energy advocates in favor of highly politicized and less impactful opportunities in solar, wind, electric vehicles, and energy storage.  We support those, but energy efficiency should come first.”  NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

While many clean energy topics are ripe for partisan politicking in North Carolina, energy efficiency is not. Operating under both Republican and Democrat Governors in 2016 and 2018 respectively, the governor-appointed Energy Policy Council recommended 10% increases to energy and water savings goals in state-owned buildings in its most recent two Biennial Reports to the General Assembly.  These are the same increases found in HB330 and the governor’s recent Executive Order #80.

In July of 2019, NCBPA’s top priority legislation, HB330 “Efficient Government Buildings & Savings Act”, was tabled by Senate leadership.  Without HB330, North Carolina will fail to realize these vast economic development and environmental benefits:

  • $252 million in net taxpayer savings with no increase in state funding.
  • $1.1 billion in energy and water utility savings.
  • 1.3% reduction in the state’s total energy usage.
  • Employment opportunities for 4,000 North Carolinians.
  • Improved health, safety, durability, and productivity in state-owned school and office buildings.

In addition to being a nonpartisan issue, the great thing about investing in energy efficiency is that it’s the foundation for meeting all clean energy, renewable energy, carbon emission, electric vehicle, and energy storage goals,” said Miller. “Buildings account for nearly 60% of our state’s energy usage and are the most significant contributor of carbon emissions. Clean energy and climate goals are achieved more quickly and more cost-effectively by addressing energy efficiency first.”  NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

Two years ago, North Carolina clean energy advocates passed on the opportunity to incorporate this same legislation in HB589. Advocates regarded HB589 as an “omnibus clean energy bill” despite it having no mention of energy efficiency. In the current legislative session, the same group of advocates successfully lobbied for the advancement of three clean energy bills. Those bills were combined into one by the Senate and, again, touted as “omnibus clean energy” legislation in spite of the total omission of energy efficiency policies like HB330.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to accelerate clean energy adoption in North Carolina by first reducing our state’s energy usage by 16.8% through building energy efficiency,  But it’s not just our legislature that needs to take action on prioritizing energy efficiency. Many clean energy advocates continue to ignore energy efficiency even though it’s North Carolina’s largest clean energy sector by revenue, companies, and jobs.”  NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

North Carolina’s clean energy advocates need to understand that energy efficiency helps meet their renewable energy and climate goals faster and cheaper. Energy efficiency is the first option to achieving all of our interests,  Instead of filling the leaky bucket with more water, fix the leak.  It’s that simple.

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Energy Efficiency is the Largest Employment Sector of the Clean Energy Industry

“In-state reporting shows that 55% of North Carolina’s clean energy workforce comes from energy efficiency, and national reports identify up to 86,559 workers in the state.  Despite being the largest employment sector in North Carolina’s clean energy economy, legislators and advocates continue to ignore the economic development and job creation opportunities of our growing workforce, whose work accounts for nearly 4% of our state’s annual gross domestic product.”  NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

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Investments in Energy Efficiency Offer Much More Than Just Energy Savings

“In addition to offering lower energy bills, energy efficient homes and buildings are more healthy, safe, comfortable, durable and valuable than others.  Last year, we identified a 9.5% sale price premium for high performance homes in North Carolina’s three largest metro markets.  Investing in energy efficiency also means investing in more healthy outcomes for residents and workers, and greater financial value for home and building owners.”  NCBPA’s Ryan Miller

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