What the 1970s oil crisis taught us

Due in part to the 1973 oil crisis, government agencies emphasized energy efficiency in many sectors.


Some of the seminal events that acted as catalysts to jump-start energy efficiency improvements in buildings, both residential and commercial, stem from incidents that happened far from the shores of the United States. As a result, federal and state governments (and the general public) were exposed firsthand to the consequences of unstable worldwide energy supplies. Arguably the most infamous example of this hit the United States in 1973. And it hit hard.

The 1973 oil crisis started when the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) started an oil embargo in response to world political events. Six months later, the prices of oil imported into the U.S. rose from $3 per barrel to nearly $12. In addition to massive cost increases for gasoline and heating oil, this event brought on a decade of high inflation where prices of energy and various material commodities rose greatly, triggering fears of an era of resource scarcity with economic,political, and security stresses. From 1973 to 1974, residential fuel oil rose from $0.75/million Btu to$1.82/million Btu, a 143% increase. Electricity costs also spiked: from $5.86/million Btu in 1973 to$7.42/million Btu in 1974. This was a 27% increase in electricity cost in just 1 year.

The 1973 oil crisis is not the only tumultuous event that has threatened energy supplies in the U.S., but this particular event sparked the greatest debate on energy efficiency in the built environment in the U.S.to date. Also, during this time the unsafe levels of water- and air-borne pollution attributed to the extraction and production of energy were making headlines, putting pressure on private industry and government to develop laws that would protect the welfare of U.S. citizens, and guarantee a cost-effective and secure source of energy. These programs became part of a greater effort, which included the industrial sector, appliances, electronics, and electricity generation.

Bill Kosik is a distinguished technologist at HP Data Center Facilities Consulting. He is the leader of "Moving toward Sustainability," which focuses on the research, development, and implementation of energy-efficient and environmentally responsible design strategies for data centers. Kosik collaborates with clients, developing innovative design strategies for cooling high-density environments, and creating scalable cooling and power models.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me