Communities and local governments throughout the U.S. are experiencing increasing demands
for basic services at levels that exceed their dwindling budgets. Concurrently, the
mounting costs and impacts of air, water, and solid waste pollution are adversely
affecting local economies, natural environments and public health.
Resource Efficiency is a new approach to these widespread problems. Utilizing
innovative management practices and new technologies, Resource Efficiency aims to reduce
the demand and the costs for energy, water, and materials within communities. The
results are monetary savings which benefit the local economy, reduced environmental
impact, and conservation of resources.
The terms efficiency and conservation are often used interchangeably, but in fact they
have different meanings. Efficiency means getting the same or better service while using
less resources. Conservation means simply using less and reducing waste; without
efficiency, conservation generally implies a reduction in the level of service.
Through integrated planning and management for Resource Efficiency, pioneering
communities such as Portland, San Jose, and San Francisco have demonstrated tremendous
community benefits. Consider the following example:
Since the establishment of energy management programs in the early 1980s,
residents, businesses, and agencies of San Jose, California have cut more that $5.5
million from annual energy bills and saved enough energy each year to power 7,600
homes. San Jose predicts its sustainable energy programs will produce a county-wide
$33 million increase in wages and salaries, and a net employment gain of 1,753 job years
over a ten-year period. (The Sustainable City Project: A Tri-City Collaboration for
Developing and Implementing Sustainable Urban Energy Practices, UCETF, 1991, pp. 45-46; p.
This section provides information on community energy efficiency, materials efficiency,
water efficiency, and air quality protection to assist your community realize the multiple
benefits of Resource Efficiency.
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