A woman using a digital tablet while her husband reads a newspaper

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April 18, 2012

Energy Services Analysis Can Identify Ways to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Photo by shapecharge/Getty Images

Much of the discussion around "Earth Day" events focuses on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and the user—residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation—but not on the purpose for which the energy is consumed. As a result, efforts to conserve energy often target improving the efficiency of current technologies.

However, changing how a service is provided can create opportunities to conserve energy. A new RAND study does just that, using "Energy Services Analysis" to identify and evaluate new ways to reduce energy use and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The authors introduce Energy Services Analysis, explain how it differs from conventional approaches, and how this type of analysis can be conducted. They analyze how changes in the way two services are provided might reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide estimates of the potential reductions in two areas, written news and personal mobility.

Every reader who switches to reading news on an e-reader or tablet computer can reduce personal emissions from printing and delivering newspapers by 63 to 74 percent, depending on assumptions about the lifetime of the e-reader or tablet, as well as the amount of time spent reading the news.

Every driver who switches from owning a vehicle to participating in car-sharing can reduce personal emissions from driving by 37 percent, based on evidence showing that drivers tend to reduce the number of miles they drive when they switch to car-sharing.

"ESA offers a practical way to look for energy savings by identifying the services that consume the most energy and investigating alternative means of delivering those services," the authors said.