Government Policies And Regulations
Most governmental bodies were relatively unconcerned about energy efficiency issues until the OPEC (Organization of Oil Exporting Countries) oil embargo of 1973-74. Following that event, however, they began to search for ways of encouraging corporations and private consumers to use energy more efficiently. One of the first of many laws that appeared over the next decade was the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. Among the provisions of that act were: a requirement that new appliances carry labels indicating the amount of energy they use, the creation of a federal technical and financial assistance program for energy conservation plans, and the establishment of the State Energy Conservation Program. A year later, the Energy Conservation and Production Act of 1976 provided for the development of national mandatory Building Energy Performance Standards and the creation of the Weatherization Assistance Program to fund energy-saving retrofits for low-income households. Both of these laws were later amended and updated.
In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established two voluntary programs to prevent pollution and reduce energy costs. The Green Lights Partnership provided assistance in installing energy-efficient lighting, and the Energy Star Buildings Partnership used Green Lights as its first of five stages to improve all aspects of building efficiency. The World Trade Center and the Empire State Building in New York City and the Sears Tower in Chicago (four of the world's tallest structures) joined the Energy Star Buildings Partnership as charter members and have reduced their energy costs by millions of dollars. The EPA also developed software with energy management aids for building operators who enlist in the partnership. By 1998, participating businesses had reduced their lighting costs by 40%, and whole-building upgrades had been completed in over 2.8 billion ft2 (0.3 billion m2) of building space. The EPA's environmental interest in the success of these programs comes not only from conserving resources but from limiting carbon dioxide emissions that result from energizing industrial plants and commercial buildings and that cause changes in the world's climate.
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