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The Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Apr 13, 2022

Many people realize that energy efficiency can save energy and money, but energy-saving projects often yield additional, quantifiable benefits beyond energy and cost savings. However, the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency are frequently omitted from energy efficiency assessments in buildings and industrial plants before projects or practices are implemented.   

For some energy efficiency measures, the monetary value of non-energy benefits could range from 40-250% of the value of energy savings per measure – opening the possibility of lowering energy efficiency project paybacks by more than half.

A white paper developed by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office found five key areas of additional benefits from energy efficiency:

  • Production
    • Increased production and product reliability
    • Improved product quality
    • Shorter process/cycle time
  • Operation and maintenance
    • Lower maintenance and labor costs
    • Fewer purchases of ancillary materials 
    • Reduced water consumption and cooling requirements
  • Work environment
    • Increased worker safety
    • Improved air quality
  • Waste
    • Hazardous waste and wastewater reduction
    • Materials use reduction 
  • Emissions
    • Reduced CO2 emissions
    • Reduced CO, NOx, and SOx emissions


A recent research effort led by Germany-based Fraunhofer ISI, the Multiple Benefits Project, performed 25 assessments of industrial and building/tertiary energy efficiency projects and found non-energy benefits in each. Another outcome of this project is a training module to help stakeholders identify non-energy benefits and integrate them into return on investment (ROI) estimates for energy efficiency projects. One Better Plants partner, 3M, has utilized this training to monetize NEBs for their energy efficiency work, and will present on their experience at the 2022 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit in the session “Bonus Points: Adding Up the Non-Energy Benefits of Energy Efficiency.”

When non-energy benefits are included in industrial energy assessments, organizations can better understand the full impact of energy efficiency, resulting in more comprehensive and accurate ROI calculations. In turn, understanding, quantifying, and communicating non-energy benefits can help increase stakeholder buy-in for energy efficiency projects.

To learn more and help your organization develop strategies for identifying and quantifying the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency projects, check out the Beyond Energy Savings webinar on the Better Buildings Solution Center.