world energy outlook 2012The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released their annual World Energy Outlook report (the Executive Summary is available here as a PDF). Spoiler alert: the outlook isn't so good.

As the IEA writes, "Taking all new developments and policies into account, the world is still failing to put the global energy system onto a more sustainable path. Global energy demand grows by more than one-third over the period to 2035 in the New Policies Scenario (our central scenario)."

Energy Efficiency: The Beacon in the Smog.

But it's not all doom and gloom. According to the IEA, energy efficiency 

Our Efficient World Scenario shows how tackling the barriers to energy efficiency investment can unleash this potential and realise huge gains for energy security, economic growth and the environment. These gains are not based on achieving any major or unexpected technological breakthroughs, but just on taking actions to remove the barriers obstructing the implementation of energy efficiency measures that are economically viable.

One of the key phrases in this paragraph is "economically viable." We're not discussing far-flung solutions or pie-in-the-sky fantasies, but rather tried and true, actionable solutions with a strong ROI. 

Building Efficiency is Key.

One of these solutions, of course, is improving the energy efficiency of our buildings through the building performance upgrades that we all know and love.

The World Energy Outlook states:

Energy efficiency is widely recognised as a key option in the hands of policy makers but current efforts fall well short of tapping its full economic potential. In the last year, major energy-consuming countries have announced new measures: China is targeting a 16% reduction in energy intensity by 2015; the United States has adopted new fuel- economy standards; the European Union has committed to a cut of 20% in its 2020 energy demand; and Japan aims to cut 10% from electricity consumption by 2030. In the New Policies Scenario, these help to speed up the disappointingly slow progress in global energy efficiency seen over the last decade. But even with these and other new policies in place, a significant share of the potential to improve energy efficiency – four-fifths of the potential in the buildings sector and more than half in industry – still remains untapped. (emphasis ours)

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) followed up their post on the World Energy Outlook with a prediction that 2013 will be the year that we start to really take advantage of the opportunities that energy efficiency provides, and we hope that their prediction is accurate. But we can also help the prediction become a reality by ramping up our marketing efforts in order to turn more people on to the benefits of energy efficiency.

Let's do it.