From the Lab to the Marketplace (1995)

Providing a Hand to States

LBNL has worked with individual states for two decades. For example, the Washington State Energy Office asked LBNL to provide technical assistance on their residential construction projects and proposals for creating a new energy efficiency code. LBNL also conducted projects with the New York State Energy Office and the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration involving ventilation and infiltration in low-income multifamily buildings. Over the past few years, LBNL has provided technical evaluation for the "Energy Edge" project, in which the Bonneville Power Administration funded the Washington State Energy Office and the Oregon Department of Energy to build and evaluate state-of-the-art commercial buildings throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Map of the United States of America including Alaska and Hawaii.

From its inception, the energy-efficient buildings program at LBNL has been particularly attentive to California energy issues. In the early 1970s, Laboratory scientists scrutinized projections that electricity demand in California would grow at six percent per year—a rate that would require dozens of new electric power plants by 1985. We maintained that increased energy efficiency could cost-effectively reduce that growth rate to only one or two percent, generating vast economic savings for the state. Many disagreed with this position, but it proved true. Thanks in part to energy efficiency policies, programs, and standards, California has built no large power plants in a decade and none are currently planned.

LBNL researchers have provided technical support to the California Energy Commission almost since its inception, assisting the state's energy-demand forecasting process, providing tools for developing building standards, evaluating spending plans for PVEA (oil overcharge) funds, and developing methods for implementing home energy rating systems. The Laboratory has collaborated on a broad range of topics with each of California's major electric and gas utilities (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison).

Marking an important watershed in utility regulation, the Laboratory played a supporting role in the so-called "California Collaborative," in which all the state's utilities (and their regulators) agreed to reform utility profit rules to provide new economic incentives to pursue energy efficiency. More recently, LBNL has been part of the steering team of Pacific Gas and Electric's $20-million Advanced Customer Technology Test (ACT2). This project is the nation's largest high-profile demonstration of the technical and economic potential of energy-efficient technologies and practices in commercial and residential buildings.

LBNL is also the home of the California Institute for Energy Efficiency (CIEE), an innovative partnership of California's energy utilities, the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utility Commission, the University of California, and DOE. Each year CIEE funds and coordinates a substantial program of research at California universities and university- affiliated DOE laboratories, focusing on technologies crucial to the state and the region. The Institute emphasizes applications that simultaneously improve end-use efficiency and lower utility operating costs.