University of Miami Law Review


Victor M. Hanna


Securing our country’s supply of energy resources for future generations has been and continues to be a complex scientific, political, and economic issue throughout the United States. While these efforts have to a certain extent focused on securing an adequate supply of fossil fuels for our country, perhaps we need a better, more efficient perspective. Prior to dedicating our efforts to ensuring an adequate supply of energy resources—whatever that resource may be—we should instead strive to become a more energy efficient society and reduce our overall demand for energy. By maintaining our current lifestyles and productivity while simply using less energy, we can avoid some of the negative environmental impacts from burning fossil fuels for energy while simultaneously reducing our overall consumption of energy in the United States. The reality, however, is that human behavior poses a significant number of cognitive obstacles to acting in a more energy efficient manner, specifically with regard to adopting more energy efficient practices in the building and utilization of our cities’ homes, office buildings, and other energy-consuming properties.

This article will address the negative environmental impacts of our continued reliance on fossil fuels for energy and how greater energy efficiency can produce significant environmental and economic benefits to our society. The focus then will be on how a thorough understanding of human behavior can help us design better energy efficiency policies at the municipal level for overcoming the behavioral obstacles preventing us from building and utilizing more energy efficient buildings throughout the United States. By examining the energy efficiency policies currently in place in four California cities, this article attempts to analyze in practical terms how we can turn our own behavior from a barrier into a valuable tool for achieving greater energy efficiency. By understanding these behavioral obstacles, we will be in a much better position to remove them from the equation at the outset, thereby putting ourselves in a much better position both environmentally and economically.