Over the last 10 years, the Czech Republic has been improving energy efficiency in its hospitals and health facilities, schools, industrial plants and city-owned buildings. One of six energy-efficiency centers that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory helped establish—The Czech Republic Center for Energy Efficiency—leads these efforts.
Between 1990 and 1994, the Laboratory's Advanced International Studies Unit provided planning and logistical support for energy efficiency centers launched in Poland, Russia, Bulgaria, China, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. The centers are nongovernmental, not-for-profit organizations founded by local experts. Their purpose is to make energy efficiency business possible in countries transitioning to market-based economies.
"Transition economies rank least efficient in the world," said Gerald Stokes, director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between the Laboratory and the University of Maryland. "Increasing energy efficiency is unique in that it generates economic growth and reduces environmental emissions."
Creating a framework for energy efficiency
The centers help increase the focus on energy efficiency through collaborative research and involvement in new domestic laws and international agreements. "The energy efficiency centers have played a key role in creating their nations' energy efficiency laws and policy reform," said Bill Chandler, director of the Laboratory's Advanced International Studies Unit.
In one example, the Beijing Energy Efficiency Center provided expertise in integrated resource planning to the Shenzhen Utility Corporation and persuaded the city to invest in demand side management rather than additional power plant capacity. The Chinese Electric Power Law now requires that integrated resource planning and demand-side management be considered in plans for new electric power development.
Stimulating private-sector business
In another success story, the Russian Center for Energy Efficiency located a Russian partner for a United States firm that distributes a technology used with coal-burning electricity plants and district heating, hot water and steam facilities. The two companies formed a joint venture around the technology, which helps mitigate sulfur dioxide emissions. Through assistance like this, the centers have helped stimulate millions of dollars of private-sector business and technology transfer.
Informing and educating
The energy efficiency centers are developing a new culture of energy efficiency with professional training and public education. For instance, EnEffect, the Bulgarian Center for Energy Efficiency, trained experts who then trained local energy managers on energy-efficient management practices such as municipal energy planning and management, business plan preparation and auditing.
The same center also adapted a Bulgarian version of a manual for architects about improving energy efficiency in multistory residential buildings and developed a reference guide for residential consumers entitled How to Save Energy at Home.
Initial funding for the centers came from a combination of public and private resources including the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the World Wildlife Fund, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The centers achieved financial independence after about three years of operation and have solidified into institutions that can continue increasing energy efficiency in these transition economies after initial funding from the United States government ends.
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