June 27-28, 2011

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The rebound (or take-back) effect) is the term in energy economics used to describe the effectin which increases in energy efficiency do not necessarily lead to simple 1:1 decreases in energy consumption, but instead are “taken back” in the form of higher consumption of the goods and services that the energy is used to create. Although taken very seriously in Europe, both in academia and in policy circles, the rebound effect has not been taken very seriously in the U.S. There are pockets of activity, but no serious government programs aimed at understanding it.

Nonetheless, there is a small community in the U.S. is working in this area, particularly passionate around its importance to U.S. and world policy aimed at mitigating global climate change. As a result of their efforts, the first U.S. workshop on this effect just took place: the “Energy Efficiency and the Rebound Effect” workshop, held at the AAAS Building, Washington DC June 27-28 2011, and organized by Ines Azevedo (Co-Director) and Granger Morgan (Director) of Carnegie Mellon University’s NSF-supported Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making. The workshop was relatively small, about 35 participants from universities (both U.S. and international) and national laboratories (LBNL, NREL, ORNL, Sandia) and about 5 observers (AAAS, DOE-EERE, EPA). The participants all gave short presentations (including a presentation by Jeff Tsao on historical trends in the consumption of light) followed by vigorous discussion.