• [ April 24, 2015 ]
  • Marilyn Brown Discusses the Energy-Efficiency Gap


Dr. Marilyn Brown speaking at the Speaker Series event.

Energy and the environment are two of the most critical topics of the 21 st century and that’s why the Iowa Energy Center invited Dr. Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology to speak about fresh perspectives on energy production, new technology, policymaking, user behavior, and how these features all play critical roles in determining the best plan of action to overcome the global energy crisis.

On Thursday, April 16, 2015 Dr. Brown discussed her new book, “Green Savings – How Policies and Markets Drive Energy Efficiency” at the Memorial Union of Iowa State University. The book asserts that reducing energy consumption should be a frontline strategy to address global climate change, threats to energy security, and the challenge of grid reliability.

“It was a good overview and I look forward to using her book as a resource,” said Todd Kielkopf, a member of the utility sector of the Iowa Energy Center advisory council and the general manager of Indianola Municipal Utilities.

Dr. Brown, along with co-author Dr. Yu Wang of Iowa State University, support two bold arguments mentioned in their book: that greater investment in energy efficiency should be a priority and that energy efficiency can help the nation in times of crisis.

“It is a great book that introduces the market and policies of energy efficiency. The analysis is grounded in empirical evidence in the U.S. while being supported by a broad global perspective of policy practices,” said Wang.

Attendees of the Speaker Series event listening to Dr. Marilyn Brown.

Dr. Brown covered how energy efficiency is a “dilemma wrapped in a paradox” and how energy productivity is increasing, but so is energy consumption internationally. She discussed both sides of this energy-efficiency gap.

For example, some skeptics would say, “Modelers underestimate the discount rates used by consumers and firms. Because of opportunity costs, risk, illiquid investments, and rational inattention, firm and household discount rates are high,” while some advocates would respond with, “Discount rates can be lowered by reducing market uncertainties as occurs, for instance, with improved benchmarking and labeling. Also, uncertainty over discount rates are increasingly being considered.”

“I like the idea of using benchmarking to reduce the energy efficiency information gap in the real estate market,” said Kielkopf.

Dr. Mark C. Petri speaking at the Speaker Series event.

This Speaker Series topic aligns with the Iowa Energy Center’s mission well, according to Kielkopf. All attendees, including 40 in-person and 10 by webinar, gained insight into how policies and markets drive energy efficiency.

“The lecture was very well received by the audience. She covered all the major points of our book. It was a very effective talk,” continued Wang. “Her lecture was intriguing and the discussion was enlightening. In the discussion of how to use our analysis to inform public policy, I learned that utilities are devoting effort to combine decoupling with benchmarking, which is very innovative and interesting.”

To learn more about Dr. Brown’s lecture click here or watch the video of her presentation located on our Vimeo channel .

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The Iowa Energy Center has been actively serving Iowans since 1990. We support economic growth through collaborative projects that bring smart and sustainable energy technologies closer to market and by providing Iowans with reliable, objective information on energy and efficiency options.

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