An Energy Standard of Value

Bruce M. Hannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The United States, as do most advanced industrial nations, generally measures value in money terms. The utility of employing a common denominator, such as money, is readily understood. However, within the past ten years there has been a growing disenchantment with money standards of measurement—particularly in the evaluation of public sector, nonmarket decisions. Concerns over distributive effects, regional consequences and en vironmental impacts have contributed to the belief among many that evaluative standards other than money ought to be adopted. Alternative proposals have been made for the establishment and adoption of better measures for assessing developmental decisions. One alternative rests upon the assumption that energy is a critical variable in the post- industrial society of America; energy costs in all areas of the productive processes could thus be used in both public and private developmental decisions—operating and capital expenditure—to add another dimension to the traditional money standard of value. Furthermore, developmental matters could be judged not only in terms of dollar evaluations, but also in terms of BTUs the project would require. An energy flow model designed to detail the total energy cost of goods and services for a given period in the United States—which has been developed at the University of Illinois—can serve to focus attention upon energy costs for various developmental undertakings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
JournalThe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1973

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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