Decision Makers See Lack of Funding as Obstacle to Mandated Energy Efficiency

15 Nov 2010

Money for energy efficiencySeventy-nine percent of US federal government leaders charged with making recommendations or final decisions on agency purchasing believe that energy efficiency is among the most effective ways to meet energy needs, reduce energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new Zogby International poll sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy and Schneider Electric.

The independent survey of 201 government leaders asked participants to rate the importance of energy efficiency within their agencies, rate the agencies’ ability to comply with federal energy efficiency requirements, identify obstacles to that compliance and identify attitudes towards energy efficiency within the agency.

The poll, released in conjunction with the GOVgreen Conference taking place this week in Washington, D.C., also found that:

• Two-thirds (total of 66%) of the decision makers see either cost savings (36%) or environmental benefits (30%) as the major driver of their agencies’ energy efficiency efforts.
• Approximately two-thirds (64%) of these federal agency decision makers believe that the current national economic environment and potential tightening of their agency’s budget might have an impact – presumably negative – on their ability to pursue energy efficiency projects. A third (32%) think the biggest obstacle to achieving their agency’s federally mandated energy efficiency goals is a lack of funding. 
• Roughly two-thirds (65%) of decision makers believe their agency has a culture that encourages energy efficiency practices throughout all levels and across all departments; and about half (49%) report that the significance of energy efficiency in their operations has increased in the last two years.

“As the nation’s single largest energy user, the federal government plays a prominent role in the larger effort to meet our energy needs, lower GHG emissions and ensure a secure future for energy and the environment,” said Ellen Kotzbauer, segment manager, Federal Government, Schneider Electric. “These survey results show that agency leaders are working diligently to increase energy efficiency and ensure that smart energy practices are ingrained at all levels in the culture of US federal government agencies.”

“Greater energy efficiency among federal agencies is today more important than ever, given the huge amount of energy consumed by federal facilities and the need for fiscal restraint at all levels of government,” said Floyd DesChamps, senior vice president of policy and research at the Alliance to Save Energy. “We support energy policies that encourage the federal government to lead by example as a role model for the private sector and look forward to the far-reaching economic, national security and environmental benefits of energy efficiency – not only within federal agencies, but also for taxpayers and the nation as a whole.”

The release of the survey data is timely considering the numerous energy efficiency requirements on the federal government mandated by recent laws and executive orders.

Other highlights of the recent poll of US federal agency decision makers:

• Cost savings and environmental benefits are motivators: 66% of respondents reported that cost savings and environmental benefits are the most important reasons driving their agency’s efforts to become more energy efficient.
• Metering and auditing: Roughly 53% of government leaders say their agency has metered and audited all or most of their facilities in order to understand their energy consumption trends, benchmark building energy use, determine energy efficiency investment priorities and measure and verify the impact/success of those investments. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) gives agencies until October 1st, 2012, to complete metering of electricity. And the survey indicates that agencies are on track with facilities audits, under federal mandate that 25% of facilities be audited yearly, starting in mid-2008.
• Significance of energy efficiency in operations has increased: In the last two years, half of those surveyed (49%) report that the significance of energy efficiency in their operations has increased, while 35% reported the significance was about the same, and 11% said it has decreased. 
• Energy efficiency ranks as a priority: Roughly two out of five (38%) respondents said improving their agency’s energy efficiency is among its top five priorities, while more than a third (36%) say it is a second-tier priority. Only a fifth (21%) report that improving their agency’s energy efficiency is a low priority.
• Agency culture encourages energy efficiency: About two-thirds (65%) agreed that their agency “has a culture that encourages energy efficiency practices throughout all levels and across all departments, and employees have an understanding of their role in achieving agency energy efficiency goals.” Only 16% disagreed with that statement.
• Funding priorities: One in three (32%) think the biggest obstacle to achieving their agency’s energy efficiency goals is a lack of funding, while about a fifth (18%) think it is the lack of internal enthusiasm to execute, and another 18% see organizational barriers, such as procedures, as a major obstacle.
• Lifecycle approach: 37% report their agency is going to great lengths to apply practices like continuous monitoring, recommissioning technologies and maintenance to ensure energy savings are maintained and improved throughout their facilities’ lifecycle, while a sixth (17%) say their agency is not making a great effort to apply such practices.

The survey of 201 US federal agency decision makers with purchasing authority was conducted from October 12th to 19th, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 7.0 percentage points.

The Alliance to Save Energy