What is energy reduction? Why is it important?

While it may not be completely obvious, energy production is directly correlated to harming the environment. When you reduce your energy use, you reduce the amount of toxic Greenhouse Gases (GHG) released into the atmosphere due to energy production and fuel extraction. This helps to conserve natural resources and protect ecosystems and habitats from destruction.

Energy Reduction in the United States

In this interview with Tom Kelly, Senior Energy Manager at Purchase College, he discusses the energy initiatives taking place on campus and beyond. For more information please check out this website or email him at tom.kelly@purchase.edu.

Energy Reduction in the Netherlands

The Dutch lifestyle gives way to many opportunities for energy reduction.

The infrastructure in the country is designed and planned very differently which leads to a lot of energy-saving benefits. For example, residential areas are designed in a way that makes it easy to get from home to work or to go shopping using either a bicycle or public transportation. Looking at a map of Dutch cities like Amsterdam or Leiden, you can see a circular pattern of canals and roads. The cities were designed to have as many amenities (shops, schools, municipal buildings, etc.) in the center with residential areas surrounding. As the population grew, canals and “rings” were added to the outside of the pattern. This design makes it easy for residents even on the outer rings to access the center of the city by foot or bicycle (or boat!).

In turn, this makes Dutch homes more energy efficient. Doing your grocery shopping primarily by bike, walking or public transportation means that you purchase smaller amounts of food at a time. This means that you don’t need as much space to store it, so you’ll probably have a smaller refrigerator which uses less energy in your home. And a by-product of doing smaller, more frequent shopping trips and having a smaller refrigerator is that you’re less likely to waste food by letting it go bad before you can consume it.

Energy reduction and efficiency in transportation is impressive in the Netherlands. The country of 17 million people has nearly 23 million bicycles, fulfilling more than a quarter of overall transportation needs. There are over 35,000 kilometers of bicycle tracks throughout the country. It’s not uncommon for one household to share one car, but have more bicycles than residents!

The Dutch government has a goal to reduce the Netherlands’ emissions of greenhouse gases to zero by 2050 using solar energy, onshore and offshore wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal heat and hydropower. By 2023, they plan to make 16% of all energy used in the country sustainable and almost 100% sustainable by 2050 (Government of the Netherlands Renewable Energy).

Campaigns to encourage Dutch citizens to make their homes more energy efficient (“Save Energy Now!”) include pushing for better insulation, solar water heating, and solar panels in homes. Grants and low-interest loans are available to homeowners who want to increase their home’s energy efficiency.

And living the Dutch lifestyle, as well as government-focused aid and campaigns, has really paid off for the Netherlands. Between the years 2000-2010, the rate of energy efficiency was 1.1% per year, meaning that without these efforts, total energy consumption in the country would have been 12% higher by the end of the 10 year period than it was. The agriculture and household sectors were the two largest contributors to energy efficiency over that time period, agriculture saved 3.7% per year meaning that consumption would have been 45% higher in 2010.

The Netherlands is also focusing on transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy and their government’s energy and climate policy is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They aim to reduce them by 49% by the year 2030 and 95% by the year 2050 (The Netherlands 2020 Energy Policy Review).