The other day, Martin Holladay, a blogger for Green Building Advisor, mentioned this energy-efficiency pyramid, which I found to be quite interesting.  He said The Pyramid of Conservation originated from Bob McLean, CEO at Hunt Utilities Group, and was created for Minnesota Power.  Minnesota Power uses the interactive graphic to help customers determine where to start when taking on energy efficiency projects.

The conservation pyramid has 10 levels that, as you climb from the bottom, become increasingly more expensive and complex.

As a point of interest, two of the most popular areas to get government money show up at the top, while the bottom level is just now being targeted by the proposed HOMESTAR program.  I’m not saying that this is good or bad, but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Keep in mind the pyramid was designed for the residential context.  When you break down energy use, lighting accounts for a large portion of energy use in commercial buildings, while heating accounts for a large portion of energy in the residential context.

Certainly, every home is different and may require a tailored energy-efficiency approach, but as Holladay explains: “The rules displayed in the energy conservation pyramid are not set in stone; every house is different, and different climates dictate different strategies. But it’s hard to quibble with the pyramid’s basic hierarchy.

Now, this graphic seems straight forward, but some folks get this all messed up.  They go for the green gizmos from the start, and blow the wad without making needed efficiency changes.  Some might say this is akin to powering a Mustang with solar panels while riding down the freeway with the windows down.

Whatever the comparison, if you’re thinking about energy efficiency — or net-zero energy — it’d be wise to keep The Pyramid of Conservation in mind.  This is how you get there.

Media credit: Minnesota Power.