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Rachel Weidner
English 102-125
3 April 2016
Energy Efficiency: Steps America Can Take to Achieve It
As society evolves and changes, so does its environment. In the modern world, energy
usage is a necessity for most. Fossil fuels, such as coal, gas, and various minerals, account for the
majority of the worlds energy consumption. While these resources are currently the popular
choice for energy supply, it is very problematic. These resources are gradually becoming
extremely limited in quantity, and also have several harmful effects on the environment and
human health. On the other hand, the alternative to fossil fuels is renewable energy sources,
which include solar, wind, and hydropower. These resources are not only considered to be
endless in supply, but they are also reusable. When compared to fossil fuels, alternative energy
has a dramatically small impact on the environment. However, as of recent years, renewable
energy resources only supply about 8% of U.S. total energy consumption (Peterson 58). As a
nation, the United States must take initiative in order to improve its environmental efficiency.
Several aspects of the country need to change, progress, and transcend into a more eco-friendly
future. Also, the United States should act as a world leader in renewable resources, and
encourage other countries to take action as well. Overall, it is imperative that the United States
make advancements in its environmental efficiency, specifically in the fields of government,
technology, education, and the workforce.
The United States government needs to act as the central leading figure that advocates for
an improved effort towards a clean environment. However, achieving efficiency becomes

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difficult when the country is only partially involved in the effort. A constant, fundamental
problem seems to be that federal policymakers, particularly in Congress, simply have not
committed themselves, says Kate Gordon, Louis Soares, and Stephen Steigleder in their article
that expresses exigency toward a greener America (42). While the government recognizes that
eco-efficiency is a serious problem, the plans made to solve it are not always full-fledged. On the
national scale, the government should not only formulate new policies, but also work to improve
the current ones. One seemingly effective way to encourage installations of renewable energy
devices and eco-efficiency is through the incentive program on the state level. When incentives
are implemented, citizens and businesses become more motivated. A presidential fellow of the
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Kent
Peterson, PE, states in his article that state renewable portfolio standards will continue to play
an important role in accomplishing large-scale renewable use in the United States (63). It is
crucial that the federal and state governments fully engage, and continue to entirely immerse the
country into the green economy.
Not only is it imperative for the government to take action at the national level, but the
United States should also act as a leader to others on the international scale to improve
environmental efficiency worldwide. If the country took the proper initiative to go green, and is
able to succeed and thrive from it, other nations will follow suit. The United States can do this by
working with other nations to design various plans of eco-efficiency. One specific action that the
United Nations (UN), an organization made up of 193 countries, took in 2012 is a perfect
example of what the worlds nations should be doing more of in order to solve the environmental

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problem. The UN released a document that focused on improving proper education in order to
enter a sustainable development workforce (Nowotny et al. 4,152). Several Australian
environmental specialists published an article that summarized the document and its significance.
The authors stated, the logical intention of the UN document is that the development of
renewable energy-related technologies must be accompanied by appropriate modification of the
education system, which is needed to educate the technical staff able to work at the front line of
environmentally friendly technologies (Nowotny et al. 4,152). This document acts as a stepping
stone to progress in renewable energy. While countries recognize the need for advancements in
environmental technology, the world is only at the beginning of an extensive journey that will
require more action.
While the government can serve as a point of origin, it cannot be the only part of society
working to attain eco-efficiency. With governmental leadership, the countrys workforce should
act as a base to their actions and ideas. Educated engineers have the true power to develop new
technology in the environmental field; whether that involves making energy more accessible or
more efficient, any advancements have the potential to be significantly beneficial. Also, there is a
clear connection between renewable energy and the workforce that is simple and significant: an
increase in usage of alternative energy sources leads to an increase in job openings in that field.
However, the proper training of the workforce is required in order to truly excel as an ecofriendly country. Only by moving our workforce into the twenty-first century can Americans
move our economy, and our climate, into a greener future as well, says Gordon, Soares, and
Steigleder (44). In their paper, these authors main claim is that in order to improve

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the quality and quantity of renewable energy sources, special and innovative skills should be
taught on a more normal basis, especially in the fields of engineering, architecture, and
construction (Gordon, Soares, and Steigleder 23). In other areas of the world, the workforce for
renewable energy is projected to significantly increase. A study conducted by The European
Renewable Energy Council projects that 1,067,000 new jobs in renewable energy will be
created by 2010 if the former EU15 meets its bioenergy targets (qtd. In Watkinson, Bridgwater,
and Luxmore). The study also concluded that If Europe meets the target of 20% energy from
RES in 2020, the study estimates a further 380,000 jobs will be created in the bioenergy
industry (qtd. in Watkinson, Bridgwater, and Luxmore). The potential for an increase in job
offers is not restricted to Europe. If America were to take initiative in expanding the field, there
could be benefits. An article published in Power Engineering by Dorothy Davis states that A
comprehensive report from the American Solar Energy Society forecasts that more than 17
percent of all anticipated U.S. employment could be generated from the renewable energy and
energy efficiency industries over the next two decades (10). These examples along with several
others show the positive correlation and benefits in the career field if the country were to
improve its eco-efficiency.
In order to better strengthen the environmental fields workforce, proper training is
required, which would begin at the educational level of secondary schooling. In high schools
nationwide, taking the simple initiative of educating students about renewable energy could have
several benefits. Two Turkish professors in the Department of Elementary Science Education at
Ondokuz Mays University conducted a study on 433 high school students that assessed their

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attitudes toward alternative energy sources. elikler and Askan consider the younger generations
to be very important to the innovation of alternative energy, and explain:
Nowadays, many countries allocate considerable sums from their budgets to research that
seek to resolve environmental problems and to leave a livable environment for future
generations. However, a far simpler approach against environmental problems would
involve raising individuals with greater environmental awareness. In order to raise
individuals who are environmentally aware, and who contribute to the well-being of their
societies with their novel and innovative ideas, measures should be taken to provide
education regarding the sources of environmental pollution and to instill positive attitudes
towards the environment.
In other words, the two authors are implying that educating students can impact their energy
usage and eco-efficiency, and also has the potential to inspire them to pursue a career in the
field. The more students are exposed to environmental education, the more potential there is to
not only evoke progression in technology, but also help future generations to become more
conscious of energy usage in general.
In post-secondary education, students can seek more advanced training. Primarily in the
fields of engineering and construction, the development of new technologies that can help to
preserve the environment is essential for progress. Gordon, Soares, and Steigleder advocate for
the term technical literacy in higher education (31). In order to attain technical literacy,
according to the authors, students should go beyond basic training, and learn how to apply those
academic concepts to real-world technical problems (Gordon, Soares, and Steigleder 31). By

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achieving technical literacy, students can excel into a more broad range of technological
advancements and occupations (Gordon, Soares, and Steigleder 31). Also, it is necessary that
students are offered more opportunities to better understand renewable energy in the postsecondary level of education. Increased collaboration between PhD providers can improve
visibility of bioenergy studies and offer students a wider range of expertise and facilities, states
Watkinson, Bridgwater, and Luxmore. Having more options and possible capabilities will help
students to harvest beneficial knowledge about renewable energy at the advanced level.
The countrys aspects discussed above, if changed enough, can help America advance to
become environmentally friendly and less fossil fuel dependent. If the government were to
initiate more urgency for change by implementing motivation in the forms of incentives and
legislative acts, then businesses, education systems, and citizens in general would begin to follow
suit. In Kiriaki Keramitsoglous study that investigates the attitudes of adolescents towards
alternative energy, she summarizes that since climate change has become a cause for concern,
citizens have to play a more active role in the development of energy policy and the operation of
energy market, and they certainly have the potential to do so. According to elikler and Askan,
the current century is expected to be one of significant innovations, advances, and
developments in the use of renewable energy sources, which represent a clean and inexhaustible
source (qtd.). The way to harvest this potential and achieve an energy sustainable future
requires a combination of all levels of society discussed above. First, regarding the government,
to realize the promise of the clean energy economy, America needs to make a commitment to
passing the policies and programs that will spur that economy (Gordon, Soares, and Steigleder

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44). Next, the workforce, which needs improvement in proper training provisions. Lastly, the
education system should be redesigned to motivate students to become more educated on how to
achieve sustainability. Only by taking these steps, and doing so in the near future, can the United
States breakthrough with advancements in green technology, and evolve into a truly sustainable

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Works Cited

elikler, Dilek, and Zeynep Aksan. "The Development Of An Attitude Scale To Assess The
Attitudes Of High School Students Towards Renewable Energy Sources." Renewable &
Sustainable Energy Reviews 54. (2016): 1092-1098. Academic Search Complete. Web.
26 Feb. 2016.
Davis, Dorothy. "Finding The Green Workforce." Power Engineering 114.10 (2010): 10-11.
Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.
Gordon, Kate, Louis Soares, and Stephen Steigleder. "Preparing America's Workforce For Jobs
In The Green Economy: A Case For Technical Literacy." Duke Forum For Law & Social
Change (DFLSC) 4. (2012): 23-44. Academic Search Alumni Edition. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Keramitsoglou, Kiriaki M. "Exploring Adolescents Knowledge, Perceptions And Attitudes
Towards Renewable Energy Sources: A Colour Choice Approach." Renewable &
Sustainable Energy Reviews 59. (2016): 1159-1169. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25
Feb. 2016.
Nowotny, Janusz, et al. "Sustainable Practices: Solar Hydrogen Fuel And Education Program On
Sustainable Energy Systems." International Journal Of Hydrogen Energy 39.9. (2014):
4151-4157. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.
Peterson, Kent W. "Status Of Renewable Energy Systems In The United States." ASHRAE
Transactions 118.1 (2012): 58-63. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.
Watkinson, I.I., A.V. Bridgwater, and C. Luxmore. "Advanced Education And Training In
Bioenergy In Europe." Biomass & Bioenergy 38. (2012): 128-143. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.