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Addressing the Energy-Water Nexus: A Blueprint for Action and Policy Agenda

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In simple terms, every drop of water saved in the U.S. saves energy, and every unit of energy saved saves water. That overlap has come to be known as the “energy-water nexus.”

For the past 30 years, strategies to conserve energy and increase the efficiency of energy use have been widely pursued. Similar efforts in the conservation and efficient use of water have occurred over the past 20-plus years. However, the two communities have historically not worked together in a coherent, collaborative manner, and instead generally created separate but parallel efforts. These separate activities could realize significant benefits from coordination.

Recognizing this need for collaborative actions, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) secured a grant from the Turner Foundation to bring these two communities together to establish a blueprint for future joint efforts and to envision a policy agenda that could drive actions at the federal, state, local, and watershed levels.

This blueprint addresses three broad elements: policy/codes, research, and programs. In developing it, ACEEE and AWE have analyzed and consolidated contributions from approximately fifty individuals, many of whom participated in a full-day workshop in December 2010. The goal of this blueprint and policy agenda is to provide a framework for collaborative action, funding, and policy development.

The blueprint further contains eight broad thematic elements, each including a number of action strategies, all of which will require complex collaborations among funding sources, advocates and nonprofit organizations, government agencies at every level, trade associations, energy and water utilities, consumer groups, business, regulatory agencies, universities, national laboratories, policymakers, and the U.S. Congress.

By setting bold, innovative new directions that can begin immediately, the developers hope that this blueprint will change the way water and energy are used, measured, and managed, and change the relationships and actions of stake-holders, creating new, more active and visionary coalitions.

Keywords: Energy-water nexus; best practices; building codes; codes; cross-sector collaboration; data collection; decoupling utility profits from sales; efficiency; embedded energy; embedded water; energy utilities; identifying barriers; identifying incentives; local policies; national policies; programs; standards; state policies; tax incentives; utility regulation and policy; water treatment; water use; water utilities; working groups

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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