Is Efficiency a Renewable Energy?

PHCA Monthly epiPHany

Recently, the International Passive House Association (iPHA) and the North American Passive House Network (NAPHN) have introduced the concept that “efficiency is the first renewable energy”. For several years, we have been told that “the least expensive energy is the energy we don’t use.”  From a technical perspective, neither phrase is accurate, but if you compare the relative outcomes of employing renewable energy versus applying energy efficiency measures, they are essentially the same. The impacts are both ongoing and carbon neutral — and both of the phrases make perfect sense. Consider the following:

Also, the 50% of energy that you are no longer using, is costing you nothing year after year. So, once again, the phrase, “the least expensive energy is the energy you are not using” makes sense. Of course, when you are dealing with an existing building, some investment will be required for the efficiency improvements. However, if you make smart choices for energy efficiency during design and construction of a new building, it may or may not require additional investment, but the ongoing savings is real — and, if/when you choose to add renewable energy, far less will be required to achieve Net Zero energy. 

Jay Gentry