Odón de Buen
Director General
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Building an Efficient Future

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:20

Q: What is CONUEE’s role in Mexico’s energy industry?

A: CONUEE has two roles that provide the country with added value. The first is as a regulator. We regulate materials, products and systems that use energy. Since CONUEE’s creation in 1989, when it was called CONAE, it has developed 31 standards and has updated most of them. The second role is as promoter of knowledge and best practices for achieving better energy efficiency, which is done through programs for the public federal, state and municipal and for the private sectors. We work closely with numerous private and public organizations and we have developed large networks of stakeholders under what we call “communities” that cover several themes across the energy-efficiency spectrum.


Q: What are some of the biggest challenges CONUEE has faced in its work to improve energy efficiency in Mexico?

A: Buildings are without a doubt a challenge in terms of energy efficiency as the use of air conditioning is growing fast in Mexico. The most relevant issue with energy efficiency in buildings in Mexico is not related to its equipment, such as AC units, but with their shell or envelope. To reduce the amount of energy needed for air conditioning in residential and commercial buildings, CONUEE has developed two standards that apply to the design of its envelopes. Unfortunately, we have not been able to enforce them because we only create the standards and, in practical terms, depend on third-party public institutions for their enforcement and we have to strengthen our collaboration with local authorities to include them in local building codes, promote their implementation and reinforce compliance. Particularly, CONUEE has engaged in an ongoing discussion with the housing industry for over three years already, negotiating to ensure the application of our standards. One of the main issues developers have is the high cost associated with implementing standards to improve buildings. In the case of social housing, our studies suggest that to implement a relaxed but effective standard would cost MX$10,000. Housing developers want to know who is going to pay for this. We are developing a study showing how much money the government can save on subsidies by making sure that our standard gets implemented. But even for the government it is hard to make sure that an entire industry that develops 500,000 houses per year follows a newly implemented set of rules.


Q: How do CONUEE’s alliances make it a stronger institution?

A: We cooperate with CFE on knowledge transfer and to gather data about the energy consumption of public buildings and industrial installations. We also work on a national program to increase the energy efficiency in public lighting and we have supported 34 municipalities that have changed close to 400,000 street lights with savings of MX$500 million per year. One problem we are recently facing with CFE is that it is dealing with radical institutional changes as a result of the Energy Reform and processes are taking longer than they used to, but this is just a transition and our strong relationship is helping us overcome this.


Q: How would CONUEE like to impact the Mexican energy industry in the future?

A: There is a potential for energy efficiency investment that is not being used, particularly when it involves those systems that are common in buildings and medium and small enterprises. This is not only a problem in Mexico but around the world. One of the issues is that energy-efficiency projects tend to be relatively small and isolated, involving large transaction costs for each individual project, meaning that the process to start the project ends up costing more than the project itself. We need to allow for the creation of a market and procedures that facilitate the development of energy efficiency by setting lower transaction costs for the development of the projects and lower the risks related to the technology involved.

The National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy (CONUEE) is a public entity that promotes efficiency and the sustainable use of energy resources through the adoption of best practices.