Because America’s energy crisis is adversely impacting our economy and national security, it is critical to take a realistic look at the energy solutions currently being proposed by politicians, industry, and the media.

Architecture 2030 in its latest E-News Bulletin illustrates that the centerpiece of America’s proposed "Bold Energy Plan," consisting of 45 new nuclear plants and offshore drilling, would supply a meager three percent of the 118 QBtu of energy that the Energy Information Administration projects America will consume in 2030. The other proposed big idea is “clean coal” technology, which is at best 15 to 20 years out, if it can be proven technologically feasible and economically competitive.

The inadequacy of offshore drilling and nuclear plants to make any significant contribution to America’s energy needs is made abundantly clear in the following charts (click to enlarge):

US_crude_consumption_240.jpg US_electricity_consumption.jpg

As dismal as this finding is, it’s not the final word. There are other solutions, real solutions, that are not only much more effective but much more cost effective. For example, simply updating the national energy conservation code standard to meet the 2030 Challenge targets would produce five times the amount of energy as the proposed offshore drilling and nuclear plants combined. And, as a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows, the energy efficient buildings resulting from the updated code would actually save consumers money in reduced energy bills.

The 2030 Challenge is not a new idea; it has already been widely adopted and many cities, states, architecture firms, and businesses are working to implement it. The federal government has adopted the 2030 Challenge targets for all new and renovated federal buildings, and California recently completed a plan to implement the targets statewide.

These and other initiatives, such as providing incentives for using energy efficient equipment and appliances, community building via smart growth coupled with public transportation, driving fuel-efficient cars, and using renewable energy, are the real solutions. These practical, effective ideas are not as catchy as “drill, baby, drill,” but maybe that’s only because we haven’t really tried to put it into a sexy slogan. How about, “Live, Baby, Live”?

A new report, titled “Implementing the 2030 Blueprint: A Comprehensive Plan to Address Energy Independence, Climate Change and the US Economy,” will be released by Architecture 2030 in November. Stay tuned.