Energy efficiency and Conservation


Energy efficiency and energy conservation are often referred to as the cheapest and cleanest sources of energy. Energy efficiency is achieved through the application of technology, such as insulation upgrades, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), high efficiency furnaces, and so forth.

Energy conservation is achieved through behavioral changes, such as turning off lights when not needed, using household appliances differently, carpooling, and so forth. Reducing energy consumption is generally applied to the built environment, such as building energy efficiency and home energy efficiency.


Building energy use is determined by the mix of building types, the land-use pattern, and the location of the building. A land use pattern that contains more mixed-use, walkable and urban infill development accommodates more energy-efficient building types like townhomes, apartments, and smaller single-family homes, as well as more compact commercial building types. Location is also an important factor —buildings in the warmer areas of the region require more energy for cooling during the summer months. Assuming the same efficiency standards, the RTP/SCS assumes 8 percent less energy per year when compared to a land use pattern that reflects past development trends. Additionally, the overall energy savings that come from compact development translates to meaningful savings in residential energy bills. On average, the RTP/SCS saves approximately $950 million per year in total by 2035, or about $130 per household.​


Energy efficiency is generally thought of as doing more with less. The goal is to accomplish the same tasks and functions as before while using less energy. Common areas of focus include more efficient lighting and appliances, more efficient mechanical systems, such as air conditioners and heaters, more efficient buildings, such as wall and roof insulation, as well as more efficient electrical wiring and smart control systems.


There are a number of local, state and Federal educational programs that provide information and data on energy efficiency programs and products, such as Energy Upgrade California, or Southern California Edison’s expert-facilitated workshops and seminars. Cities such as Irvine or Santa Monica provide energy efficiency programs, as do regional organizations such as the South Bay Environmental Services Center (SBESC).

Energy Upgrade California
Southern California Edison Workshops & Seminars
Solar Santa Monica
South Bay Environmental Services Center 


There are a number of local, state and Federal financing programs that provide rebates or tax credit information on energy efficiency products, such as the South Bay Environmental Services Center (SBESC), California’s Energy Upgrade California, or the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

Case Study: The Western Riverside Council of Governments HERO Program provides low-interest rate financing for permanently affixed energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy products, in order to reduce utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions in the SCAG region.