Buildings identified as biggest energy consumers news
11 October 2008

Armed with survey results revealing public misperceptions about energy use, The Pink Panther, chief energy officer at Owens Corning, broke his decades of silence to focus national attention on the massive amount of energy used to heat and cool buildings. According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), 40 per cent of US energy is swallowed by buildings, yet most Americans believe transportation and industry are the largest offenders.

In a recent survey conducted by Owens Corning, only 27 per cent of Americans correctly identified buildings as the major energy culprit. More survey participants singled out transportation and industry as the primary users of energy. Buildings are clearly the primary energy user followed by industry and transportation.

Owens Corning has licensed exclusive rights from MGM Consumer Products to use the iconic Pink Panther character as its official brand spokesperson for the last 25 years and will continue to use it for another 15 year, in one of the most durable and successful corporate branding iniatiatives. Owens Corniong has been using the Pink Panther in live-action comedies and animated shorts.

"That startling lack of awareness compelled The Pink Panther to cease his lifelong silence," said Frank O'Brien-Bernini, chief sustainability officer at Owens Corning. "The Pink Panther has agreed to be part of a nationwide campaign to draw attention to the facts."

Communicating directly through his Save Energy blog, The Pink Panther wrote that the Owens Corning survey reveals a deep lack of understanding about the greatest source of energy use - the buildings in which we live and work.

"People keep searching for answers to our energy problems while the answer is all around us," wrote The Pink Panther. "By focusing on the role our buildings play in energy consumption and making simple, easy changes such as adding insulation, we will use a lot less energy."

O'Brien-Bernini said heating and cooling of buildings in the U.S. is also a leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions - a fact that is not commonly understood. According to a global study by the McKinsey Global Institute, the most cost-effective method for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions is insulating buildings. Yet only 8 percent of survey respondents correctly identified insulation as this most powerful tool, compared to other options such as hybrid vehicles or energy-efficient appliances.

"Imagine what a difference we can make if owners of our nation's nearly 80 million under-insulated homes realize they can easily decrease their carbon footprint by properly insulating," said O'Brien-Bernini. "Our best source of energy is energy we don't use in the first place."

With homeowners everywhere worrying about the economy and facing increased energy costs, insulation saves on energy bills. The Energy Information Administration estimates that the average American will pay nearly 15 per cent more in heating costs this winter, while those living in the Northeast may see an increase of 24 per cent. A properly insulated home can save up to 20 per cent on heating and cooling costs (Source: and is an easy do-it-yourself project.

It is interesting to note that 68 per cent of survey respondents would be willing to pay up to as much as $10,000 more for a home that could help save up to 20 per cent on heating and cooling energy-related bills.

The Pink Panther and Owens Corning urge homeowners to head up to their attics to measure their existing insulation and add more to meet current DOE recommendations of up to an R-value of 60. To meet these standards, your attic should have at least 19 inches of fiberglass batt (roll) insulation or 22 inches of blown insulation. By doing so, homeowners will increase their homes' energy efficiency, do more with less and save money this winter.

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Buildings identified as biggest energy consumers