Energy Efficiency and Mitigation

Energy decision making remains one of the greatest challenges in addressing climate change. Just as we can have a breakthrough in technology, we can have a breakthrough in approaches to energy decision making. Understanding what makes energy efficiency and mitigation policies and approaches effective is critical to our ability to reduce emissions globally.

JGCRI has several strengths that have been particularly important in creating impactful solutions. Our research combines both an integrated, global understanding of the issues with detailed knowledge of specific countries and technologies. We have a track-record of pairing innovative financing design with programs for greater impact—financing is important, particularly in the incubation stage of new programs. JGCRI also have a long history of building sustainable capacity around the world by creating and nurturing independent organizations, and by providing training to create local knowledge for energy efficiency and clean energy.

Energy efficiency in buildings

Buildings account for about 1/3 of energy use and emissions internationally, and this share is rising as people demand larger, more comfortable buildings in both developed and developing countries. Improving energy efficiency in buildings is usually very cost-effective, but significant potential remains to save energy in most buildings. Policies such as building energy codes have a proven track record in making new buildings more efficient.

JGCRI designs innovative solutions for improving building energy efficiency.  We analyze what makes energy efficiency efforts successful, and how to adapt important elements of policy or programs to match the unique context of each country or community, and we test the ideas through partnerships with research institutions, governments and local organizations. For example, China recently adopted a new building energy code for rural buildings that accounts for about 65 percent of building energy use in China. JGCRI collaborated with several institutions in China on how to make implementation of such a code feasible, which was a key government concern before they adopted the code. We are also working on building energy codes in India, Vietnam and other countries.

In Russia, we have collaborated with the federal and regional governments on finding ways to implement large-scale energy efficiency retrofits of government buildings, at the same time building capacity for broader energy efficiency improvements. We conducted comparative research on policy design, provided feedback on specific regulations with input from stakeholders, and helped train over 10,000 Russian experts through Russian-government sponsored webinars. These efforts have contributed to growth in Russia’s new energy performance contracting market, and to improvements in government buildings.

Historical Emissions

The Community Emissions Data System (CEDS) project is developing a data-driven, open source framework that will produce annually updated historical emission emission estimates for anthropogenic aerosol and precursor compounds. These are key data needed for Earth system models, climate models, atmospheric chemistry and transport models, and integrated assessment models.

Methane and black carbon

Methane and black carbon are both considered short-lived forcers, meaning that each molecule or particle emitted has a strong impact on climate change during its short life in the atmosphere. Reducing emissions can be very cost-effective, or provide major co-benefits. For example, methane is the main component in natural gas, making its capture and use economical in many cases. JGCRI has worked with several oil and gas companies to design monitoring programs linked to investment, in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Global Methane Initiative. For example, Ukrtransgaz in Ukraine saved over $500 million in just two years after it implemented a comprehensive monitoring program linked with mitigation investments on its natural gas transmission network; JGCRI provided research, tools and training to support this program. JGCRI has also worked with the Ukrainian government on coal mine methane capture and use, leading to a new law and improved understanding of the issue. Ukraine now has over 10 mine projects to capture and use methane. 

Black carbon affects both climate change and human health, but we know very little about black carbon emissions globally. JGCRI is working to assess black carbon emissions from diesel sources in Russia, conduct pilot mitigation projects, and share recommendations large-scale emission reductions. 

Cogeneration and district heating

Cogeneration, or the combined production of heat and power, can improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Heat is often a waste product of power production; using it in district heating or industry makes energy use more efficient. Centralized heating systems play an important role in the well-being of residents of many northern countries, and when well maintained, it provides an efficient, flexible option for heating.

JGCRI has worked on cogeneration and district heating analysis in several countries, including China, Russia and Ukraine. In China, we prepared a first-of-its kind analysis of the Chinese cogeneration and district heating markets. We also partnered with two cities and investors to develop a financial model for energy efficiency, including use of cogeneration. In Ukraine, we helped the government plan and design a major district heating reform initiative. We provided analysis on issues such as sequencing of the reforms based on experience elsewhere, linking tariff increases to improved efficiency and greater social support for the needy, and involving stakeholders. 

Russia has by far the largest district heating supply system, with the sector accounting for close to a third of Russia’s fossil fuel consumption. And the same time, the Russian district heating infrastructure requires substantial upgrades and investment and, therefore, has a large potential to save energy and reduce sector emissions. JGCRI has developed policy recommendations for the Russian heat sector. Such recommendations focus on making the sector more financially sustainable and attractive for much-needed private investment and know-how. Russia is currently pursuing district heating policy changes and has adopted new legislation on district heating that provides a strong basis for improvements in the sector. By leveraging the political momentum, our knowledge of institutions in Russia, and our expertise in the sector, we are able to speed up technological improvements and shape the sector in a way that reduces its impact on climate and resource consumption.

Key staff: Meredydd Evans, Nazar Kholod, Volha Roshchanka, and Sha Yu

Selected publications

Evans, M, S Yu, B Song, Q Deng, J Liu and A Delgado. 2013. Building Energy Efficiency in Rural China Energy Policy. (in publication)


Yu S, M Evans, P Kumar, L van Wie and V Bhatt. 2013 Using Third-Party Inspectors in Building Energy Codes Enforcement in India. PNNL-22110, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA.


Roshchanka V, and M Evans. 2012. Playing Hot and Cold: How Can Russian Heat Policy Find Its Way Toward Energy Efficiency? . PNNL-21695, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA.


Yu S., J Eom, Y Zhou, M Evans and L Clarke. 2012. A Long-term, Integrated Impact Assessment of Alternative Building Energy Code Scenarios in China. The 2012 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

Ishkov A., G Akopova, M Evans, G Yulkin, V Roshchanka, S Waltzer, K Romanov D Picard, O Stepanenko and D Neretin. 2011. “Understanding Methane Emissions Sources and Viable Mitigation Measures in Natural Gas Transmission Systems: Russian and U.S. Experience.” In Proceedings of the International Gas Union Research Conference, October 19-21, 2011, Seoul, South Korea. IGRC Foundation, Apeldorn, Netherlands.


Evans M, B Shui, MA Halverson, and A Delgado.  2010.  Enforcing Building Energy Codes in China: Progress and Comparative Lessons   Proceedings of Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Washington, DC.


Evans M.  2009.  “Natural Gas Regulation in Transition: The Effects of Geopolitics and Prerequisites for Change in Transition Economies.”  International Journal of Public Policy 4 (Nos. 1/2): 32-50. 


World Bank/Independent Evaluation Group. (2009). Climate Change and the World Bank Group: Phase I – An Evaluation of the World Bank Win-Win Energy Policy Reforms. Washington, DC: World Bank. (Ms. Evans was lead author of the energy efficiency chapter).


Evans M, B Shui, and A Delgado.  2009.  Shaping Energy Efficiency in New Buildings: A Comparison of Building Energy Codes in the Asia-Pacific Region.  PNNL-18478, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA. 


EPA and APP. 2008. “Facilitation of Deployment of Highly Efficient Combined Heat and Power Applications in China.” EPA, Washington, DC. (Ms. Evans was the lead author).