Sometimes, big change comes in small steps. For example, consumers have long since bought, literally and figuratively, into the notion that they can do their part to save energy by making seemingly innocuous changes to their daily lives, such as purchasing only compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

On the other hand, when it comes to energy efficiency, experts in California recognize the potential for even greater savings and the need for an ambitious plan to achieve that goal.

This summer, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unveiled a plan to achieve substantial gains in efficiency for the lighting sector. The Lighting Action Plan implements the lighting goals of the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.

The plan advances an ambitious agenda. Appropriately named “Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies” or “BBEES,” some of its targets include benchmarks, such as making all new residential and commercial construction in California net-zero energy by 2020 and 2030, respectively.

For its part, the Lighting Action Plan seeks to achieve greater efficiency in lighting through four channels, which include changes in policy and laws, identifying and promoting best practices, reducing end-user demand, and supporting research and development.

In announcing the plan, the CPUC emphasized the tremendous potential for greater efficiency in the lighting sector as well as the need to make more of an effort to tap into that potential. While lighting represents almost 25 percent of the state’s electricity use, that number can be reduced by almost 80 percent over the next decade. The CPUC added that more than 50 percent of investor-owned utility program savings in California have come from lighting.

As for the CFLs that have become something of the norm in efficient household lighting, the CPUC cited studies that show, while efficient products, such as CFLs and high-bay fluorescent lighting, have made significant market transformations, they have achieved substantially lower savings than anticipated.