According to Andre de Fontaine of USDOE’s advanced manufacturing office, the DOE now has 110 U.S. companies and other organizations committed to a 20% cut in energy use by 2020. The pledges equal about 5% of the total “energy footprint” of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

To bolster U.S. energy efficiency through voluntary means, agency efforts range from its Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) to the Better Buildings, Better Plants (BBBP) initiative launched in 2011. The BBBP initiative calls for commercial and industrial buildings to increase energy efficiency 20% by 2020. A higher-tier “challenge” program requires firms to provide data to verify efficiency gains, and to make a commitment to showcase energy-saving projects.

The USDOE estimates that the energy to operate commercial buildings, shopping centers and malls, and schools costs the U.S. about $200 billion a year, of which about 30% is wasted. Energy consumed by the U.S. manufacturing sector costs an additional $180 billion annually, and a reduction of just 20% in energy consumption could cut that amount by $45 billion a year, according to the department.

The USDOE also recognizes manufacturers’ efforts to increase energy efficiency under the broader Better Buildings, Better Plants Program. While participating manufacturers do not face the more stringent requirements of the challenge program — they do not have to commit to showcase projects or publicly disclose energy efficiency data — they do pledge to cut their energy intensity (or use per unit of production) 25% over a 10-yr. period, de Fontaine says. A showcase project is an investment in energy efficiency costing the company at least $1 million.

Companies participating in the BBBP program include Briggs and Stratton, Cummins Inc., GE, Nissan North America, Schneider Electric, and the Saint-Gobain Corp. More information on USDOE's Better Buildings, Better Plants program is available at