I recently ran across a post on the Energy Information Agency (EIA’s) web sit highlighting the fact that from 2003 to 2012 Federal buildings had achieved a greater decrease in energy use intensity than had been achieved by commercial buildings, on average. I find this spin to be offensive on various levels.
The relevant graph is shown below.
The first thing to note is that, even with this decrease in energy use Federal buildings still have higher EUI than do other commercial buildings (compare the red and blue 2012 bars).
Second, while I am pleased that the Federal government is learning how to operate its buildings almost as well as the rest of the commercial building sector, it is not a remarkable accomplishment. It reminds me of a verbal exchange between then Governor Bill Clinton and businessman Ross Perot during a presidential debate. Clinton was bragging that under his leadership the State of Arkansas had improved its rank among other states in education from almost last up to the middle of the pack. Ross Perot pointed out that you don’t have to be innovative when you are ranked last — you will move up by just copying what others have done. (I will confess, this is my memory of what happened, but it might be that I imagined this exchange — it is a good story, in any case.)
Third, why is the EIA engaging in such spin? This agency is supposed to gather and disseminate energy facts. Spin should be left to political parties.
This is also an example of an issue that has been around and repeated for at least forty years (and will still be with us in 2057 if this EIA post is any indication), namely that energy-fat buildings/processes/companies can more easily lose X percent of their energy use than energy-fit ones. When are we going to see an end to bragging about losing fat and a beginning to apologizing for being energy-overweight?
Another point: the EIA data is from 2012. In today’s urgent situation relevant data needs to be updated much quicker. Many companies and governments have set carbon reduction targets for 2020. Are we not going to know whether they met their targets until 2025?
I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read your title, I would have spit it out all over my screen! By the way, Green Button can be used with monthly data, implementation costs are estimated at $3-4/meter, a one time cost. With that, you can monitor savings in near real-time.