The American Physical Society has released a major study on the crucial role that energy efficiency must play to achieving energy security and reducing global warming.

According to the APS, Energy Future: Think Efficiencydiffers from other energy efficiency reports in its emphasis on scientific and technological options and analysis.” The report has three overarching conclusions:

  • Improving energy efficiency is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to significantly reduce the nation’s demand for imported oil and its greenhouse gas emissions without causing any loss of comfort or convenience.
  • Numerous technologies exist today to increase the efficiency of U.S. vehicles and buildings in ways that could save individual consumers money. But without federal policies to overcome market barriers, the U.S. is unlikely to capitalize on these technologies.
  • Far greater increases in energy efficiency are available in the future, but realizing these potential gains will require a larger and better focused federal research and development program on energy efficiency than exists today.

The two biggest quantitative conclusions concern the transportation and building sectors:

The report concludes that the average light-duty vehicle should have a mileage of at least 50 miles per gallon by 2030 and that widespread construction of homes that require no fossil fuels should be possible in most areas by 2020.

The Study Group Members include some of the country’s leading experts on energy efficiency and clean energy:

  • David Goldstein, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • David Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Dan Kammen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Mark Levine, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Maxine Savitz, The Advisory Group

If I have any criticism, it is that the report does not appear to discuss the enormous savings possible from energy efficiency in industry (as Dow has shown) or power generation.

The bottom line, though, is that this is an excellent report for those who want a thorough introduction to energy efficiency in buildings and transportation.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.