Since the 1970s, California has led the United States – and most of the world – in the field of energy efficiency. According to a new report, the state’s efforts have saved it a significant amount of money – more than $65 billion in all.
Although California’s cities aren’t the country’s most energy efficient in all, the state itself is by far the country’s least wasteful when it comes to energy. It’s a title that’s deserved, with California’s energy efficiency legacy dating back over four decades.
What makes California such an energy efficient state? We’ve looked that five factors that have contributed to California’s focus on energy efficiency – from its climate to its focus on modern architecture – to explain its massive environmental success.
California is home to one of the most suitable climates for energy efficiency in North America. With average temperatures very close to the ideal for office productivity, a major reason for California’s energy efficiency is its steady, predictable weather.
The ideal temperature for productivity is 71° — a temperature very similar to mean highs throughout California. Thanks to California’s great climate, usage of heating or air conditioning systems isn’t as essential as it is in other states and regions.
Without air conditioning to worry about in summer or heating to worry about in the winter, California businesses can achieve significant savings – both in energy and in expenses – beyond their counterparts in other states and countries.
California is one of the country’s sunniest states, and despite some regions getting a little darker during winter, the majority of California’s large cities enjoy year-round sunshine that makes daylighting a breeze.
Thanks to California’s steady sunshine and general lack of cloudy, wet weather, the state’s businesses and public buildings can make use of energy efficiency daylighting to a far greater extent than businesses in other states.
From improving productivity to reducing energy consumption, natural daylighting has a variety of benefits. For California, it’s been the driving force behind the state’s excellent energy efficiency record for more than four decades.
Culture has a huge effect on behavior, and California’s culture of renewability and environmentalism has made energy efficiency a major focus not just for the state’s local governments, but for individuals.
From recycling to energy efficiency, California’s focus on the environment creates a culture of sustainability and responsibility. Energy efficiency isn’t just something to think about – it’s a social obligation that people and businesses take very seriously.
From pioneering recycling programs decades ago to leading the wave in the current energy efficiency movement, California’s culture of environmental responsibility has had a huge effect on its ability to lead the way in energy efficiency.
Long-term energy vision
Unlike other states, which have picked up energy efficiency after its benefits became more apparent, California has always had a focus on energy efficiency as a part of its long term environmental vision.
California is more affected than many other states by environmental issues, from its droughts and growing water issues to forest fires. As such, it’s always made them an important focus of policy and long term planning.
Just like the culture of the state has made people take up energy efficiency as a vital part of building and architecture, California’s long-term vision has made reducing its energy usage something that people and businesses value very highly.
Examples of great design
As of 2012, California topped the charts in LEED Platinum buildings – construction projects and existing buildings that achieved the top LEED rating. In fact, California is home to more LEED Platinum buildings than Oregon and New York combined.
One of the biggest reasons for California’s energy efficiency success is the number of architecturally brilliant buildings within the state. From high-rises to museums, the entire state of California is filled with examples of outstanding building design.
Success encourages success, and California’s pioneering buildings set the foundation for the current generation of LEED Platinum design and construction. As even more energy efficient buildings go up, expect to see this architectural trend continue.