ESL energy tool demonstrates how policy can help clean air

Charles Culp

Charles Culp

Jeff Haberl

Jeff Haberl

A model for measuring electricity consumption savings and air quality improvements that result from building code changes, developed by researchers at the Texas A&M [Energy Systems Laboratory] ( , was recently used in a Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative [paper] ( to demonstrate how policy can result in cleaner air.

The paper called for end-use energy efficiency in the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

The ESL, wrote authors Kate Konschnik, policy director of Harvard’s Environmental Law Program, and Ari Peskoe, energy fellow in the Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative, modeled the electricity consumption savings in Texas resulting from 2008 state-mandated building code changes, as well as the air quality improvements that resulted from lower demands from regional power plants.

“Energy efficiency is part of the best system of emission reduction for power plants because it is cost-effective, imposes minimal environmental costs, and reduces overall energy requirements,” said the report, about energy efficiency’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The models were developed by an ESL team that included Charles Culp and Jeff Haberl, ESL associate directors and professors of architecture at Texas A&M. The modeling project was part of the ESL’s [Texas Emissions Reduction Plan] ( , established by Culp, Haberl and Bahman Yazdani, ESL associate director and associate research engineer.

TERP was created in 2001 after a mandate from the Texas legislature, which tasked it with:

  • determining and reporting energy savings and emissions reductions resulting from the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs,
  • providing training to implement energy efficiency standards and
  • determining the energy use impact of proposed code changes.

TERP’s goals are accomplished with several initiatives, including its development of the Texas Building Energy Performance Standard, which is the building energy code for all residential and commercial buildings, a diesel emissions reduction incentive program and a new technology research and development program.

TERP also sponsors training for builders, code inspectors, code officials and interested groups regarding cost-effective implementation of building codes’ energy efficiency standards, and works with state agencies to reduce emissions and energy savings.

posted July 25, 2014