Special Topics in Environmental Management

EPA’s Climate Partnerships an Ongoing Success Story

Back in the 1990s, a company’s financial bottom line and emissions were often only considered together when it came to enforcement and penalties. Those times are long gone now as more and more business owners realize that financial stability and environmental sustainability are integral in the face of climate change.

In January 2014, the EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs released the Climate Protection Partnerships 2012 Annual Report, which shows how much difference it can make to everyone when businesses and regulators combine forces toward a single, or several, goals. This report is especially important because, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy noted therein, “12 of the hottest years on record have all been within the past 15 years.” Moreover, she added, “Last year alone was the second costliest year ever recorded in terms of disasters, the U.S. endured 11 different weather and climate events with estimated losses exceeding $1 billion each.”


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Individually, each Climate Protection Partnership program has its own goals and achievements such as:

  • In 2012, the Energy Star® program helped Americans save more than $26 billion on utility bills, effectively preventing more than 254 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a quantity equal to the annual electricity use of 35 million homes. That’s a savings of more than 337 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) or more than 5 percent of U.S. electricity demand.
  • Since 2001, the Green Power Partnership has helped more than 1,400 organizations commit to using about 29 billion kWh of green power each year.
  • Since 2001, more than 450 Combined Heat and Power Partnership companies have installed more than 5,700 megawatts (MW) of new combined heat and power.
  • In 2012, EPA’s methane and fluorinated GHG-program partners used EPA tools and resources to prevent emissions equal to the annual electricity use from more than 10 million homes.

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 In total, the Office of Atmospheric Programs sponsors 13 programs addressing different industries, technologies, and organizations to encourage conscientious energy use and continued emissions reductions. Combined, the accomplishments credited to all programs and the more than 21,000 partner organizations are impressive:

  • Preventing more than 365 million metric tons (MMTCO2e) of U.S. GHG emissions equivalent to the emissions from the annual electricity use of more than 50 million homes, which translates to more than $13 billion in benefits to society due to reducing damages from climate change.
  • Reducing net energy bills by more than $26 billion and mitigating methane emissions valued at $4.6 billion in 2012 alone.
  • Investing more than $125 billion in energy-efficient technologies and practices through 2012.
  • Preventing more than 3,100 MMTCO2e of GHG emissions cumulatively due to investments made through 2012.

What is especially hopeful about these programs is that they represent just one avenue of opportunity for consumers, business, and industry to contribute to minimizing climate change. The results revealed in the Office of Atmospheric Programs report do not include any emissions reductions or energy savings  realized through regulatory programs or through initiatives conducted by other offices or agencies.

Also noteworthy are the impacts of some programs beyond the individual goals of business and industry for saving energy and reducing emissions. For example, the Energy Star program, in concert with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), certified more than 7,500 new Energy Star homes built in fiscal year 2012 using HUD funding. In addition, the EPA also partners with Habitat for Humanity in the United States and in 2012, almost 1,700 Habitat homes were built to Energy Star specifications.

The full report is available at http://blog.epa.gov/epaconnect/2014/02/2012-climate-partnerships.