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Visitors tour WaterShed, the University of Maryland's entry in the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C., during which university teams compete to build the most energy-efficiency homes. The United States ranks 13th of 16 major economies on for energy efficiency, according to a scorecard released July 18, 2014 by the American Council on for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-profit research group. / Alex Dominguez AP

Germany wins the "World Cup" for energy efficiency while the United States ranks 13th among 16 major economies - behind China, Canada and India, says an international scorecard Thursday.

The U.S. has made efforts in recent years that include stricter building codes, appliance standards and vehicle miles-per-gallon but still fares only better than Russia, Brazil and Mexico, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy, a non-profit research group.

"The United States, long considered an innovative and competitive world leader, has progressed slowly and has made limited progress since our last report (in 2012), even as Germany, Italy, China, and other nations surge ahead," said ACEEE's executive director Steven Nadel in announcing the findings.

The scorecard looks at how 16 economies, accounting for 81% of the world's gross domestic product and 71% of its energy consumption, fare in 31 areas that cover both policies such as fuel-economy standards and performance such as energy usage in buildings, transportation and industry.

Overall, Germany did best, followed by Italy and the European Union. For actual energy usage, it also got top scores in the industry sector while China did so for buildings and Italy for transportation. For national policies, the EU tied with France and Italy for top honors.

The U.S.' highest score was in the energy consumption category for buildings, tying for eighth place with the United Kingdom, but it sunk to the 13th spot for such usage in industry and 15th for that in transportation. It ranked 11th for its national policies.

Its energy consumption per person, 6.8 tons of oil equivalent, was more than three times China's 2.0 tons and was only exceeded by Canada's 7.2 tons.

"There's really no excuse for the U.S. lagging behind other nations on energy efficiency," said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., adding states like his own have shown that efficiency saves money and reduces pollution. "There's bipartisan common ground on this issue in Congress."

Yet Congress has not passed a major energy bill since 2007, and in May, a bipartisan bill to boost efficiency by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.J., collapsed in the U.S. Senate. Republicans tried to attach controversial measures and when Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, disallowed them, the bill fell five votes short of the 60 needed to move to a final vote.

The Obama administration has acted on its own to boost fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks and in June, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules to limit heat-trapping carbon emissions from power plants. The EPA rules would allow states to use energy efficiency gains to meet emission targets, but many Republicans in Congress oppose the proposal as a costly "war on coal."

"Energy efficiency is the low-cost (EPA) compliance path" for states, Nadel told reporters. He said the EPA proposal, once implemented, and pending tougher fuel-economy standards for trucks could boost the U.S.' score.

"Top-scoring countries may have a competitive edge," said Rachel Young, lead author of the ACEEE report, noting they use fewer resources to achieve the same goals. Germany's total score, 65 out of a maximum 100 points, is 50% higher than that of the U.S. - 42.

"The cheapest energy is the energy you don't need to produce," said Germany diplomat Philipp Ackermann. Citing the recent Ukraine crisis in which Russia has threatened to cut off its deliveries of natural gas, he said energy efficiency can reduce dependence on foreign suppliers. He said it's the "second pillar" - along with renewable power - of his country's energy transformation.

Here's ACEEE's overall ranking of the 16 economies:

1. Germany, 65 points

2. Italy, 64

3. European Union, 63

4. China, 61

4. France, 61

6. Japan, 57

6. United Kingdom, 57

8. Spain. 54

9. Canada, 50

10. Australia, 49

11. India, 45

12. South Korea, 44

13. United States, 42

14. Russia, 35

15. Brazil, 30

16. Mexico, 29



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: On energy efficiency, U.S. ranks 13th out of 16

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