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America's Energy Future
Sunday, April 22, 2018  Current Operating Status

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Computing Research for Sustainability (2012)


There is a clear and critical role for the application of information technology (IT) and for computing research in advancing the nation's and world's sustainability goals. IT provides an essential bridge between technical and social solutions because it fosters economic, political, and cultural adjustments by enhancing communication and transparency. Moreover, IT is at the heart of nearly every large-scale socioeconomic system, including the financial, manufacturing, and energy systems. Innovation in IT must thus play a vital role if the nation and the world are to achieve a more sustainable future.

The report highlights some of opportunities for IT innovation and computer science research, and it urges the computing research community to bring to bear the approaches and methodologies that will have a significant, measurable impact on sustainability. The full NRC report is available for download and the project page provides additional details on the study.


This report was recently cited in an announcement for the National Science Foundation's Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) program. As quoted in the CyberSEES description, the CSTB report suggests that "a rich interplay is developing between computing research and other disciplines" and that these "interdisciplinary approaches, [which are] built around equal partnerships and real sustainability problems, are expected to lead to compelling progress across multiple dimensions."


Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation (2012)


Optics and photonics technologies are ubiquitous: they are responsible for the displays on smart phones and computing devices, optical fiber that carries the information in the internet, advanced precision manufacturing, enhanced defense capabilities, and a plethora of medical diagnostics tools. The opportunities arising from optics and photonics offer the potential for even greater societal impact in the next few decades, including solar power generation and new efficient lighting that could transform the nation's energy landscape and new optical capabilities that will be essential to support the continued exponential growth of the Internet.


As described in the National Research Council report Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation, it is critical for the United States to take advantage of these emerging optical technologies for creating new industries and generating job growth. The report assesses the current state of optical science and engineering in the United States and abroad--including market trends, workforce needs, and the impact of photonics on the national economy. It identifies the technological opportunities that have arisen from recent advances in, and applications of, optical science and engineering. The report also calls for improved management of U.S. public and private research and development resources, emphasizing the need for public policy that encourages adoption of a portfolio approach to investing in the wide and diverse opportunities now available within photonics.


Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation is a useful overview not only for policymakers, such as decision-makers at relevant Federal agencies on the current state of optics and photonics research and applications but also for individuals seeking a broad understanding of the fields of optics and photonics in many arenas.


"Harnessing Light for America's Technological Future" (PDF)


Effective Tracking of Building Energy Use: Improving the Commercial Buildings and Residential Energy Consumption Surveys (2012)


The United States is responsible for nearly one-fifth of the world's energy consumption. Population growth, and the associated growth in housing, commercial floor space, transportation, goods, and services is expected to cause a 0.7 percent annual increase in energy demand for the foreseeable future. The energy used by the commercial and residential sectors represents approximately 40 percent of the nation's total energy consumption, and the share of these two sectors is expected to increase in the future.


The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) are two major surveys conducted by the Energy Information Administration. The surveys are the most relevant sources of data available to researchers and policy makers on energy consumption in the commercial and residential sectors. Many of the design decisions and operational procedures for the CBECS and RECS were developed in the 1970s and 1980s, and resource limitations during much of the time since then have prevented EIA from making significant changes to the data collections. Effective Tracking of Building Energy Use makes recommendations for redesigning the surveys based on a review of evolving data user needs and an assessment of new developments in relevant survey methods.

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