Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Earth and Ocean Sciences

First Advisor

Mark Tompkins


Measuring true progress towards energy conservation goals requires the accurate reporting and accounting of energy consumption. An accurate energy metrics framework is also a critical element for verifiable Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Energy conservation in government can reduce expenditures on energy costs leaving more funds available for public services. In addition to monetary savings, conserving energy can help to promote energy security, air quality, and a reduction of carbon footprint. With energy consumption/GHG inventories recently produced at the Federal level, state and local governments are beginning to also produce their own energy metrics systems.

In recent years, many states have passed laws and executive orders which require their agencies to reduce energy consumption. In June 2008, SC state government established a law to achieve a 20% energy usage reduction in state buildings by 2020. This study examines case studies from other states who have established similar goals to uncover the methods used to establish an energy metrics system. Direct energy consumption in state government primarily comes from buildings and mobile sources. This study will focus exclusively on measuring energy consumption in state buildings. The case studies reveal that many states including SC are having issues gathering the data needed to accurately measure energy consumption across all state buildings. Common problems found include a lack of enforcement and incentives that encourage state agencies to participate in any reporting system. The case studies are aimed at finding the leverage used to gather the needed data. The various approaches at coercing participation will hopefully reveal methods that SC can use to establish the accurate metrics system needed to measure progress towards its 20% by 2020 energy reduction goal. Among the strongest incentives found in the case studies is the potential for monetary savings through energy efficiency. Framing energy conservation as budget enhancement is found to be a particularly useful approach in political environments that are not always receptive to climate change oriented efforts. For example, the NC Utility Savings Initiative claims to have saved over $400 million in avoided tax costs. The case studies reveal a wide range of individual successes as a result of energy conservation efforts. Despite the successes found, results indicate that most states have not obtained or completely measured progress towards their energy reduction goals.


© 2013, Trevor Michael