ACEEE

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update


wEEkly update

09/15/2017


New! - EE Coordinator Resources PageCAISO Today's Outlook


Local Government Request:
Has anyone implemented a mandatory or incentive-based SOLAR + STORAGE program/ordinance? We’re considering implementing an ordinance mandating solar PV for residential and non-residential new construction. For a more complete 24-hour-a-day solution, which also increases our resilience, we’re contemplating adding energy storage, either as mandatory installed or wired storage-ready. We’d love to hear from others who have implemented this or have considered doing so. Please reply to Steve Attinger (steve.attinger@mountainview.gov).

Here are your wEEkly updates:

News and Opportunities

Congratulations to Beacon and Spotlight Award Winners for 2017!
Congratulations to cities, counties, and other local agencies improving sustainability in their communities! Palo Alto, San Carlos, Claremont, Hayward, Foster City, Sacramento, Fremont, Scotts Valley and Alpine County all received Beacon Awards this year.

CEC, CPUCand California ISO - California Microgrid Roadmap Joint Workshop
As part of an ongoing workshop series discussing the opportunities and challenges associated with the creation of a microgrid in California, the CEC, CPUC, ISO will be hosting the final joint workshop with stakeholders at the ISO on October 2, 2017.

Regional Forum - Municipal Buildings Leading by Example
This BayREN forum will focus on how local governments are setting and meeting ambitious targets aimed at improving energy efficiency in public buildings while encouraging the private sector to do the same.

Winter is coming, but 1 idea may help save Planet Earth
California Treasurer John Chiang is partnering with the Milken Institute and Environmental Finance to host a symposium on green bonds for institutional investors in Los Angeles, Feb. 27-28

California Clean Energy Proposals Face Demise As Opposition Fails to Yield
California has grown accustomed to setting benchmark after benchmark on environmental policies, but ambitious efforts to spread renewable energy around the state and the region could grind to a halt this week.

Free Webinar - Achieving Zero Net Energy for Multifamily Housing
The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) invites city officials, multifamily building owners, facility managers and contractors to attend a free webinar, Tuesday, Sept. 26, that will showcase start-to-finish resources for reaching zero net energy (ZNE) in the multifamily building sector.

Resources and Publications

FAQ resource on California's state-regulated light-emitting-diode standards
A new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) resource on California’s state-regulated light-emitting-diode standards has been posted to the Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Program’s website.

Local Policy Benchmarking Toolkit from ACEEE
Many cities have started benchmarking initiatives to reduce citywide energy consumption. This could be good news for people living in apartments and condominiums, because many are renters and low-income residents who would benefit from lower energy bills.

Low-Interest Loans for Energy Efficiency Projects Applications are Now Available!
Notices and applications are now available on the CEC website for financing of energy efficiency & renewable energy generation projects

Career Opportunities


SEEC Calendar 
Click the SEEC Calendar link to view all upcoming events.

10/15-10/18 Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference
A conference focused on understanding the behavior and decision-making of individuals and organizations and using that knowledge to accelerate our transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future.


That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!

Cary Garcia Jr.
Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
eecoordinator.info
 

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

wEEkly update

05/26/2017


Funding Wizard | Energy Standards Online Resource Center | Energy Code Ace
CAISO Today's Outlook



Here are your wEEkly updates:

An new issues of LGC's CURRENTS Newsletter for Local Governments is now available. Currents is the Local Government Commission’s free quarterly newsletter providing local elected officials and staff with current information on energy issues affecting California local governments. Click here to read Spring 2017 Edition

News and Opportunities

Energy Commission Staff Workshop for the 2019 Residential Standards
The next staff workshop for the development of the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will be held June 1. The workshop will focus on high-performance envelope and domestic hot water measures.

Renewable Water Heating Promises Even Bigger Savings for CA
Pierre Delforge, Director of High Tech Sector Energy Efficiency, Energy & Transportation program for NRDC, discusses the benefits that solar water heating can provide to California homes and offices.

Berkeley Lab Helps California Get to Zero Net Energy Homes
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will have two projects focused on improving ZNE homes, looking at barriers to ZNE implementation and the mitigating air contamination in the "tighter" ZNE building envelope.

Bolt EV helps boost electric car sales by 91% in California
According to the LA Times, sales of EVs in California rose 91% in the first quarter of 2017 from the same period last year.

Publications and Resources

ACEEE: 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard
The most-improved cities since the last edition were Los Angeles, San Diego, Kansas City, and Phoenix.

Career Opportunities

Intern/Fellow - San Mateo County Office of Sustainability

Project Managers for the Energy Network Program - The Energy Coalition

Interim CEO - Monterey Bay Clean Power

Municipal Energy Engineer - City of Oakland

Building Supervisor - City of San Leandro

Communications Director - Clean Coalition
 



SEEC Calendar 
Click the SEEC Calendar link to view all upcoming events.
 
Register for the SEEC Forum!









6/5 - CALSLA Streetlight/Traffic Signal Efficiency Conference
The California Street Light Association will be hosting a Southern California conference on streetlight and traffic signal energy efficiency in the City of San Diego.

6/20 - Webinar: Achieving ZNE Goals with Energy Storage
The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) invites city officials, contractors, and commercial building owners to attend a free webinar on the benefits of on-site energy storage technologies and its impact on zero net energy (ZNE) goals.

6/27 - BayREN Forum: Local Model Solar Ordinance
The forum will provide local government staff, building professionals, and solar industry representatives an opportunity to surface concerns and challenges regarding the Energy Commission's Model Solar Ordinance and local adoption process.

7/28-7/29 - Zero Carbon Zero Net Energy Redwood Retreat
Join Industry Leaders As they present case studies and technical deep dives on ZNE and Zero Carbon strategies.

10/15-10/18 Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference
A conference focused on understanding the behavior and decision-making of individuals and organizations and using that knowledge to accelerate our transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future.


That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!

Cary Garcia Jr.
Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
eecoordinator.info
 

Repost: What do the 2016 election results mean for energy efficiency?

* This article was originally posted by Steve Nadel, Executive Director from ACEEE. His views do not reflect those of SJVCEO.

Now that the hard-fought 2016 election is over, I think it is useful to consider its impact on energy efficiency policy. No doubt, a lot of uncertainty remains because of President-elect Donald Trump’s lack of specificity on many issues. Yet given the bipartisan, good-for-business appeal of energy efficiency, I see potential paths forward and work to be done. Of course, we also need to be ready to defend against legislative or administrative attempts to roll back current energy efficiency policies, programs, and funding, which could wipe out the major energy bill savings, job growth, and health benefits that we have achieved.

President-elect Trump has said very little about energy efficiency, so what happens in a Trump administration is likely to depend on his senior appointments, such as the new secretary of energy and the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump has spoken a bit about climate change, which he called a “hoax” created by the Chinese to suppress the US economy (although he’s tempered these comments more recently).  He’s pledged to end the Clean Power Plan and to withdraw from the Paris climate change treaty. To change either of these could well require a multiyear process but he could also not do much to follow through on either of these and let them be essentially unimplemented. And years ago, he said green buildings have not been perfected yet and that it takes 40 years to get your money back, but also noted that this could get better with technology (see here).

Potential Opportunities

Despite these comments, there may be opportunities for progress.  In his victory speech, Trump pledged to increase infrastructure spending. Energy efficiency could be part of that. An infrastructure package could include investments in transportation, water systems, high-speed internet, and a smart grid, all of which can contribute to economic growth and efficiency. Another possible place for action is tax reform, a very high priority of House Speaker Paul Ryan. While tax reform will primarily focus on tax rates and tax simplification, some energy efficiency provisions might be included, such as overhauling commercial depreciation rules that discourage investments in commercial equipment and changing energy efficiency tax credits so they are performance-based and phase out when markets are transformed (ACEEE is working on both of these issues – see here). And if energy legislation does not pass this year (currently a House-Senate conference committee is working to resolve differences between House- and Senate-passed bills), energy legislation could return next year.
There may also be a few market-oriented areas of opportunity including:
  • Work to promote “smart” technologies including smart buildings, manufacturing, transportation, cities, and the grid.  As documented by ACEEE, there are large opportunities in these areas, and the US can be a world leader.
  • Work on energy use benchmarking and transparency to better inform home and building owners about their energy use and unleash the power of the market on strategies to reduce this use.  This might include making energy use data more accessible to consumers and to vendors they authorize to evaluate their data.
  • Work on financing for energy efficiency, including both the role of energy efficiency in the mortgage process and financing for retrofits.
  • Work on a private-public financial mechanism known as energy savings performance contracts that are budget neutral and produce significant energy savings, especially in institutional facilities.
While the focus of this blog post is national policy, the election also affected governors in several states.  With Washington likely to do less on energy efficiency, more of the focus for positive gains will switch to the state and local level. The biggest change may happen in North Carolina where the current governor, Pat McCrory, has not been especially supportive of energy efficiency. He appears to have lost his re-election bid by a razor-thin margin, and Governor-elect Roy Cooper is expected to be more supportive of energy efficiency.  However, he’ll have to work with a Republican legislature. In addition to North Carolina, the governor’s mansion is switching control in three other states: Vermont, New Hampshire, and Missouri. The new governors in Vermont and New Hampshire probably will not change energy efficiency policy very much.  We don’t know much about the new governor of Missouri. In 2016, governors were elected in 12 states; two seats come up in 2017 (New Jersey and Virginia) and the remaining 36 are up in 2018. We also note that Senator Rob Portman’s double-digit victory Ohio victory is a strong vote for a moderate Republican in the state, and will hopefully encourage Ohio Governor John Kasich to continue to hold firm against proposals to weaken energy efficiency policy there. ACEEE has worked with Senator Portman on energy efficiency issues for many years.

These are emerging thoughts, and I’m sure the landscape will evolve more as President-elect Trump and other incoming elected officials shape their agendas.  ACEEE will keep an eye on these developments and will blog again on these topics once agendas become clearer.



Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:

1. Coordinator transition (and job announcement!): I will be leaving my position as your Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator in early September. It’s been a real pleasure working to connect you all with best practices, resources – and to each other! LGC is actively recruiting to fill the Coordinator position, posted here – please share widely with friends and colleagues.

2. New from ACEEE: the Updates will be kept short this week, as I am offsite at the ACEEE Summer Buildings Study. Great new research and experience is being shared on everything from opportunities for rural small business programs, to energy code structures to increase compliance paths, to low-income energy efficiency program penetration, to updates on the City Energy Project, to successes in data quality management in Prop 39 rollout (and what this can mean for other programs). If you are interested in any of these topics please contact me – I will also be sharing out more next week and through the upcoming Fall edition of CURRENTS. (Miss the Summer edition? Click here)

3. New Window Film Calculator: The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently approved a new Window Film Savings Calculator designed by the International Window Film Association for use by local educational agencies to determine whether a window film installation project qualifies for funding under Proposition 39 for energy efficiency upgrades to educational facilities.

4. Federal Funding Opportunities: Get access to new funding opportunities in climate change mitigation and adaptation modeling, environmental health and water quality technical assistance have been released by the USEPA and the NIH.

5. Codes & Standards Team Call for Local Governments: A call between the IOU Codes and Standards team and local governments interested in resources for going beyond the energy code in their jurisdictions will take place next Tuesday, August 30th. If you are a local government and would like to join this call please contact me (jdecker@lgc.org).

6. ZNE/Geothermal Building Performance: We heard from several local governments at the SEEC Forum about the importance of not just design, but performance, in zero net energy buildings. (Learn from Berkeley, Santa Monica, SMUD, and San Diego County here). A geothermal zero net energy commercial office building in Florida has turned 4 years old, and operators and tenants have shared their experience – and the building’s performance – with the Sierra Club.

7. Support the International Energy Code: The Energy Efficiency Codes Coalition has mounted a national campaign to help support the latest update to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and is looking for help from local governments that vote in their International Code Council (ICC) chapters! Learn why this is so important and access fact sheets here.

8. Cap and Trade Review: As California legislators approve Senate Bill 32, which would extend the emissions-reductions targets under the state’s existing Global Warming Solutions Act, LGC Executive Director Kate Meis reviews the benefits that have been realized by the landmark legislation and its revenue-generating companion cap-and-trade program. (View investments by region released from ARB, or more on cap and trade.)

9. Job announcement: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is hiring for a City Engagement Manager with the City Energy Project (CEP) in the Urban Solutions program.

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website – including past WEEkly Updates.



That’s all for this week!



Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:

1. Events today: the CEC is holding a workshop in Sacramento and by WebEx for public input on the proposed scope and schedule of the Energy Commission’s Senate Bill 350 (SB350) Barriers Study. The study focuses on barriers to access for low-income customers and disadvantaged communities to energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.

2. Event reminder: if you haven’t registered for this year’s SEEC Forum, do so before registration fills up! The 7th Annual SEEC Forum will be held in Riverside June 15th-16th with two full days of sessions led by cities, counties, state, utility, and energy representatives, held at no-cost to local governments.

3. ACEEE’s Summer StudyRegistration is open for ACEEE's 19th biennial Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, California, August 21-26.

4. Conference: the Next Generation Energy System: Greentech Media will host their Grid Edge World Forum in San Jose, California, June 21-23. Click here to register.

5. Demand response webinar 6/9: Learn from EnergyHub about how to create a best-in-class “Bring Your Own Thermostat” (BYOT) demand response program with high participation rates in their upcoming webinar.

6. Microgrids webinar 6/16: Learn more the why, when, and how for optimal microgrid deployment in this upcoming webinar.

7. Online office hours 6/14 and 6/28: Looking for support on SEEC’s ClearPath greenhouse gas inventory and climate action planning tool? Online office hours are scheduled for Tuesday 6/14 and 6/28 at 11am.

8. Energy data access survey reminder: local governments have a special opportunity to provide input on their experiences accessing energy data for climate action planning to the state’s Energy Data Access Committee. This survey will be closing soon – please provide your experiences to help guide data access policies.

9. Local government action on Climate Action Plans: Congratulations to San Bernardino’s Victorville for passing its climate action plan, and to Sebastapol for adopting 13 goals from the region’s “Climate Action 2020” plan. (For more on climate action plans, click here.)

10. New funding for climate change resilience: PG&E has just announced plans to award $1 million to support local climate change resilience planning. Two grants of $100,000 will be awarded per year for five years beginning in 2017.

11. Funding reminder: deadlines are coming up for applications to federal funds for local pollution source reduction ($2.2M due 6/6), disaster and flood mitigation ($289M due 6/15),  community resilience ($4.5M due 6/20),  HUD choice neighborhoods ($120M due 6/28), and more.

12. EE and Solar Save California $192 Million? Hear from Greentech Media about how the great work in our cities and counties is reducing the need for new investment.

13. The value of cool roofs: Just in time for summer: a new study has reviewed the potential for cool roofs and green roofs to reduce urban heat island effect and improve air quality in the City of Chicago. For more on cool roofs in California, click here.

14. EE for realtors: A two-day training event for National Association of Realtor (NAR) Green Designation will be held in Yolo County June 14th-15th, connecting realtors with the value proposition of green homes and how to sell to home buyers increasingly interested in high home efficiency and performance. This event has no registration fee thanks to support from PG&E.  Please share with your real estate community! (Looking for more resources on the business case for efficient buildings? Click here.)

15. Green lease resources: I recently put out an ask to the network regarding green lease resources on behalf of several interested local governments – and received a number of great recommendations of resources. I’ve added them to the EECoordinator.info website – search green lease to review. Or, check out a new report prepared for the Port of San Diego on sustainable incentives best practices.

16. More on green leases and green tenants: Or, check out Portland’s Green Tenant Improvement Guide, a publication by the DOE looking at the feasibility of energy efficiency in separate tenant spaces, or this 2015 EPA publication sharing case studies of how landlords and tenants have overcome split incentive and other challenges to achieve energy efficient, high-performing buildings.

17. EE through building user feedback: check out how UC Davis is reducing building energy waste and improving student comfort through a new app.

18. ZNE in a Sunnyvale Racquetball Facility: Learn in this new video about how architects, developers and builders took a windowless, concrete “tilt-up” racquetball facility and retrofitted it to a desirable, zero net energy (ZNE) commercial property cost-effectively, repurposing nearly 95% of materials and creating a comfortable work environment.

19. New developments in Zero Net Energy: from Hayward’s new commitments to ZNE in municipal buildings, to Palo Alto’s work toward a new reach code, to Lancaster’s award of $1.47M for conversion to ZNE, local governments are acting on ZNE across the state. Learn more here.

20. Electric vehicles as a Distributed Energy Resource (DER): two new online videos on electric vehicles came out in the last week: learn from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and SDG&E about best practices in deploying electric vehicles as a distributed energy resource.

21. SCE’s Charge Ready Program: for those in Edison territory, a new video provides an overview of new electric vehicle offerings.

22. Job announcements: the Local Government Commission is hiring for a Energy Program Manager! Learn more here. LGC is also hiring for an IT Assistant – more here.

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website – including past WEEkly Updates



That’s all for this week!



Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Updates

Here are your wEEkly Updates:

1. First, a reminder that the Commercial Sector Subcommittee Meeting of the California Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee is going on today! (Click here for more info.) This is an important opportunity to share feedback (or just listen in) on utility and other program administrator business plans for energy programming that are in the works now. To get direct alerts on subcommittee meetings, visit www.caeecc.org.

2. Registration is open for the ACEEE 2016 Summer Buildings Study in Pacific Grove this August. This year’s theme is “From Components to Systems, from Buildings to Communities.” To learn more or register, click here.

3. State-level EE 101 webinar: Looking to better understand state-level programs and resources for local government energy efficiency? Click here to learn more about and register for our upcoming April 19th webinar.

4. Webinar on DSM-focused customer engagement: Greentech Media is hosting an April 21st webinar, “Key Strategies for Driving Energy Efficiency and Customer Engagement.” The webinar may be of interest to utility partners and local governments seeking to support and leverage customer-centric demand side management (DSM) for deeper energy savings. For more information click here.

5. Tools for PACE standards adoption: As the market for PACE financing as grown hot, many local governments have been working to adopt local standards for PACE financing firms that wish to operate in their jurisdiction. The Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) has released an Agreement template: click here for more information.

6. Increasing Home Value through Energy Upgrades: More interesting findings this week on energy improvements in buildings increasing building values – this time, specifically in residential. Click here for more information.

7. EE leaders in business: Click here to read about Ford’s renovations of its existing campus in Dearborn that will make it a state-of-the-art, water- and energy-efficient facility complete with a living machine and driverless cars.

8. Using data to plan holistically: Cities like San Jose are deploying data solutions to holistically understand their buildings and achieve energy efficiency and air quality goals. Click here for coverage on data use from Environmental Leader.

9. Green historic preservation requirements: ASHRAE is working on an update to their Guideline 34P, or Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings – with comment periods upcoming. Learn more in this Energy Manager Today article.

10. Resources for going beyond code: cool roofs: the CEC and the Utilities Statewide Codes and Standards teams have been working on some new resources to help local governments efficiently implement reach codes. One of them, a cool roofs cost effectiveness study for all climate zones, is now available. Learn more and review the study here.

11. Resilient Communities training: The Resilient Communities Initiative will be holding a special training, Engaging Communities for Effective Problem Solving, for local government officials tasked with protecting public welfare June 6th. Click here for more information.

12. Job announcement: San Diego International Airport seeks a highly-motivated professional to join its Environmental Affairs Department as a Senior Environmental Specialist! Learn more here.

13. Job announcement: MCE is hiring a Legal Counsel! Learn more here.

14. Recruit a CivicSpark fellow: Looking for capacity at the local level for energy, water, and sustainability projects? If you missed the webinars on how to apply for the CivicSpark AmeriCorps program, you can review a recording online.

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website.




That’s all for this week!

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

1. Opportunity to influence EE program design: The new EE Coordinating Committee, authorized by CPUC Decision 15-10-028, held its second set of meetings earlier this week, laying out a timeline for this year’s stakeholder review of Program Administrator (PA) business plans by sector, and hearing presentations from the PAs on residential and commercial sector plans. (For those new to the term “Program Administrator”, these are California’s investor-owned utilities and other organizations such as SoCalREN and MCE entrusted with funding for energy efficiency programming.)  Meetings to review PA plans for the public sector will be held the week of March 14th (exact date tbd). These meetings are a great opportunity to provide feedback as local governments on the utility/REN/other energy efficiency program development and structure. If you would like more information on these meetings, or to see past meeting documents, please email me or contact meeting co-chair Lara Ettenson at NRDC directly (lettenson@nrdc.org).
 2. ACEEE released some interesting stories this week. The first is a response to Bill Gates’s interview in The Atlantic, in which he again shares that we need innovation, not just insulation. While new technology developments are absolutely critical, ACEEE points out that energy efficiency has provided foundational benefits on its own, and will continue to be an interdependent (and often more cost-effective) partner with renewable developments. Read the ACEEE story in full here.
 3. ACEEE also released a paper focusing on the role of energy efficiency in achieving the goals of U.S. Clean Power Plan. The paper is available here on ACEEE’s website.
 4. LGC’s CivicSpark is holding a webinar on March 9th from 9:30-10:30AM that might be of interest to those of you working on community-focused energy programming. The presentation by Dr. Kat Donnelly, the CEO and Founder of Empower Efficiency, is on Social Media Marketing specifically targeted at community-scale energy and environment outreach programs. To learn more, click here.
 5. Developments in automated demand response (ADR) technology: Smart home energy automator OhmConnect announces breakthrough methods for enabling smart home devices (including wifi thermostats, smart plugs, home automation systems, and EV chargers) to generate recurring revenue streams by intelligently controlling device charging when electricity is less costly.  To learn more, click here for the press release.
 6. The U.S. Department of Energy has released the annual Better Buildings Alliance Winter 2016 Progress Update, full of resources for local governments and building professionals alike. Prominently featured are plug load management strategies, demand controlled ventilation (DCV) and use tips for Energy Management Systems (EMS). 
 Plug load in particular is getting a lot of attention as the fastest growing building electricity consumer – for more plug load management background and resources, click here.
7. The Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) is soliciting firms to conduct a Study to explore the potential for a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The RFP is available on WRCOG’s website and is open until 3/17.
 8. Applications are open for POCACITO in Germany: the Ecologic Institute invites you to apply to take a trip to Germany as part of the upcoming 2016 POCACITO in Germany program (June 18th-24th) to explore first hand how German cities are transitioning to become post-carbon cities. Participation from cities and regional governments is particularly encouraged.  Learn more on the POCACITO website, here.
 9. Job announcement: the Port of San Diego has several open energy and sustainability focused jobs, including a Program Manager, Energy & Sustainability, and a Senior Environmental Specialist. Learn more here.
 10. Job announcement: The SF Department of Environment is hiring for a Climate Program Manager! The new Climate Program Manager will lead the development of a strategic vision for the integration of Climate and Systems programming (Green Building, EcoDistricts) within the Department of Environment. Click here for more information.
As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources on the EECoordinator website

That is all for this week!

What States Are Doing to Compete in Energy Efficiency

Just this past month the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) published its Ninth Annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard which ranks states on their energy saving progress. Sadly for us Californians we did not take the top spot, but placed second to Massachusetts which took the number 1 spot for the fifth year in a row. With the release of this annual scorecard I am happy to see that someone or something is keeping state governments  liable for states energy progress. But what are states improving upon to even crack the top 10 of this annual scorecard?
The ACEEE scorecard is not a ranking system solely based on the views of the organization itself. The scorecard is supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hogan. Rankings for the scorecard are based on analysis of each states energy efficiency policies, program efforts and offerings that improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, industries and transportation. The group focused upon six key policy areas: utility and public benefits, transportation, building energy codes and compliance, combined heat and power, state government initiatives.
See how and why states crack the top ten when they are ranked on each of the policy categories.
Utility Energy Efficiency Programs
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont topped this category since all three have a long track record of success. All three states continue to raise the bar on cost-effective programs and policies.
Energy Efficiency in Transportation
California, Massachusetts and New York lead in this category. Massachusetts continues to promote smart growth in areas all throughout the state with state delivered financial incentives. While on the other hand the state of New York has implemented a vehicles per mile traveled reduction target. No word on California’s efforts in this category.
Building Energy Codes and Compliance
For this grouping there were only two states that made the top grade, California and Illinois. Both states continue to improve upon codes each year.
Combined Heat and Power
Massachusetts, Maryland and California were the highest ranking states.
State Government Initiatives
California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York are the top leaders on this policy area.
Now with those being stated I am sure you are interested to see who cracked the top ten.


1.       Massachusetts
2.       California
3.     Virginia
4.     Rhode Island
5.     Oregon
6.      Connecticut
7.     Maryland
8.     Washington
9.     New York
10.   Minnesota and Illinois (tied)

Maybe having states being pitted against one another in a friendly competition can be a win for the US energy grid as well as residents. Savings figures for 2014 from energy efficiency are pretty impressive. In total approximately 25.7 megawatt-hours were saved for the year, that equates to 0.7% of retail electricity sales all across the US. As for gas savings in 2014 those were reported to be around 374 million therms. With all of those savings combined it seems as if the US is making major leaps and bounds when it comes to energy efficiency. But…sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The US ranks thirteenth out of sixteen in the world. Us Americans seem to view ourselves and our country as the innovators of the world, but these rankings clearly tell a different story.




The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard was released in 2014 and showed Germany, Italy, the EU, China and France as the top five leaders in the world for energy efficiency. You may ask yourself Germany taking the top spot…really? Well yes really. Germany has an outstanding comprehensive energy strategy which includes tight guidelines on building codes, retrofit policies, and tax credit and loan programs. The country has its own state development bank building renovation loan program which stimulates private investment. Just in 2013 alone the loan program produced around 46 billion dollars.
The United States has a ways to go on as a country on the issue of energy efficiency. When comparing the 2014 scorecard to the 2012 one ACEEE stated that the US’s improvement was unchanged. The Congressman Peter Welch when interviewed stated that he hopes that energy efficiency in the US will get a boost from the federal air pollution rules that will be enforced on states. Some other items that were outlined as being hurdles to the top for the US were transportation and not having a national energy savings plan.
With fingers crossed maybe the states will help the United States climb the rankings and make the country a better healthier place to live for all.

The Great White North may be key to promoting energy efficiency

Bob and Doug McKenzie on the set of SCTV.
The War of 1812 is long forgotten.

Few other than history buffs and students know much of the series of bloody battles which pitted what is now Canada against its southern neighbor. Those included the slow slaughter of Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend by then-Col. Andrew Jackson or the Battle of Bladensburg during which British forces captured and torched Washington, D.C.

Now Canada is good buddies with the United States. The country mostly surfaces in the news as being the source of Justin Bieber or, energy-wise, for its rich oil sands in the Athabasca-Wabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake reserves in Alberta. Estimates vary but Oil Sands InfoMine puts the recoverable deposits at about 170 billion barrels, placing Canada just behind Saudi Arabia. That oil is being extracted at a rate of about 1 million barrels a day and is expected to grow to about 4 million barrels by 2020.

Canada's energy rep

Canada's hardly known for its energy efficiency or its embrace of renewables like solar, wind and geothermal. Just ask activist and author Bill McKibben, one of the chief opponents of the Keystone Pipeline, which would send all that "tar" sands oil to the Gulf Coast.

But that could change. On June 21, 2012, Environment Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy released the second part of an ambitious plan outlining how the two countries will jointly advance clean energy technologies. The effort has possibly the least sexy name in clean energy history, dubbed the "U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue Action Plan II," or CED for short.


The plan renews a 2009 commitment between the United States and Canada to work together on carbon capture and storage technologies, clean and smart electrical grids and clean energy research and development. It also places "a greater emphasis on energy efficiency."

A shift in sentiment?

Peter Kent, Canada's minister of the environment, hailed the move from Rio de Janeiro where led the Canadian delegation at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. "It is our hope that the transformation of our economies and our joint work will identify clean energy solutions that will contribute to making sustainable energy a reality for all," he said.

Tyler Hamilton, a columnist with the Toronto Star, underlines the importance for his country of increasing clean energy investment in a piece about the pro-sustainability stand by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven calls for bold policies that radically transform the world's energy systems and says: "If significant policy action is taken, we can still achieve the huge potential for these technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and boost energy security."

An IEA statement that the alternative is the potential of "locking in high-carbon infrastructure" appears to irk Hamilton. "That’s what many people are worried about, and not just environmentalists," he writes. "They know that the decisions we make today will have a profound impact on the quality of life of our children and their children tomorrow."

Hamilton says certain Canadian cabinet ministers may deem the move to embrace sustainability radical, but "most common sense folk would call it risk management."

Big gains in efficiency

Canada's policy direction -- should it go even a pale green -- likely will have a profound effect on the United States, especially in energy efficiency. Colder Canada can make tremendous progress on improving its existing commercial and industrial buildings and save energy.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently released a report that amplifies the importance for utilities of improving building performance. The report, "Three Decades and Counting: A Historical Review and Current Assessment of Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Activity in the States," says the initial concept that energy utilities should pursue electricity savings was a major departure from policies of the past.

"From these early roots, energy efficiency programs for electric utility customers have grown rapidly" to total budgets in 2010 of $4.6 billion for U.S.-based programs, the study says.

ACEEE says new policies and programs have driven down energy consumption, shown the environmental and economic benefits and demonstrated a "new era of energy efficiency ... marked by continued expansion and innovation."

Green gas in BC

That would be good for Canada, especially in light of the recent controversy caused by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark when she "redefined" three liquified natural gas plants in the northern region of her province as green energy. "This is consistent with our comprehensive natural gas strategy and it's also consistent with our efforts to use renewable energy," she said, according to Tamsyn Burgmann of the Canadian Press.

Gordon Hamilton of the Vancouver Sun reports that Clark's ruling means "gas-fired power plants used to make LNG or to propel gas along pipelines will be considered green energy, a move that will enable the oil and gas industry to produce cheap electricity without compromising the requirements of the Clean Energy Act."

All the more reason to focus on energy efficiency while that issue works itself out. Maybe renewables will get more attention, too.

In the meantime, Canadian businesses and local governments will likely be hiring energy managers, instituting energy audits and carrying out a number of energy efficiency-related savings programs.

Nothing says warm like efficiency

Say a guy in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, adds a premium efficiency heater, bolsters insulation, upgrades his ducting and eliminates all air leaks in his business. In addition, he installs other measures recommended by his energy auditors. His workers and customers feel the effects and say how great they are, especially when the thermometer dips to 40 or 50 below zero.

Changing attitudes and policies would work wonders to cut down the immense heating bills that many in more northern latitudes face every month. And lower operating costs can translate into additional profits (or continued existence) during tough economic times.

Anecdotes of successful retrofits and programs in the land of the maple leaf will leak down south, and that would benefit both regions.

Bob and Doug

So, eh? The reason I got into this post had very little to do with anything serious. I just had Bob and Doug McKenzie on the brain. I blame it on Canada Day. That devolved into thinking about Geddy Lee joining the two comedians on the song "Take Off" and wearing woolies in the winter.

Cold is something I'm very familiar with. Now I'm a pro at dealing with extreme heat, too. And I'll tell you, I'd take the cold any day. Maybe not 40 below. That just bites any way you look at it.

Bob and Doug of SCTV fame had their streak of popularity. One skit involved a game of beer hunter. They did drink a lot of beer. But anyway, here's a bit.


Seeing as it has been 200 years since that little dispute between the States and former UK territories, it's possible this next era will be one of prosperity and clean air. Sounds like a good reason to fry up some backbacon.

Energy efficiency: Some states perform better than others

The top states for encouraging energy efficiency are Massachusetts at No. 1 and California at No. 2, according to a clean energy research organization.

Both have strategies and programs in place to enhance the clean energy mix of their energy production and encourage a shift to cost-saving measures and clean energy. Their efforts have been followed, mimicked and analyzed many times.

But the bottom performers? Not so much.

"There is plenty of room for improvement," say Michael Sciortino, Rachel Young and Steven Nadel in "Opportunity Knocks: Examining Low-Ranking States in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard." They work for the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, a nonprofit research and policy analyst.

The worst 10 states in promoting energy efficiency in descending order, with the last being the worst, are: South Dakota, Alabama, Missouri, West Virginia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, Wyoming and North Dakota. ACEEE ranks the states according to policies and programs that advance efficiencies in buildings, transportation and industry.

While many states have improved over the past several years, these have lagged. The study is meant to provide direction.

The study points out that those interviewed "dwelled on the rate impacts of programs and little else." It also says utilities fail to see the practice as a resource, perceiving it more as a "societal benefit" and arguing that programs cost too much and "do not align with the utility business model."

Energy efficiency is considered the low-hanging fruit of a move toward sustainability and clean energy. It cuts utility bills significantly and is being adopted increasingly by the private sector as a core business practice.

In essence, energy efficiency practices (which include replacing light bulbs and other electric users with more miserly units) save money. And while it can cost a bundle up front, the payback is often quite fast. Sometimes it's a matter of a few years or months.

Other measures that could improve the low-ranking states' standings include improving building codes. This would slow energy loss either through preventing heat loss in winter or by retaining air conditioning in the summer. The study shows that the benefits of improved building requirements on a new home, which amount to an average $896.16, pay for themselves in less than 10 months.

The study also reports reluctance on the part of local governments to "lead by example." It provides a number of routes governments can take, including leveraging federal funding and on-bill financing.

Not all governments around the San Joaquin Valley were overly enthusiastic about energy efficiency retrofits just two years ago. Now, however, it's a different story. Many are moving to the next phase of renewable energy.

The Big Bang of Energy Efficiency



I interviewed many financial planners in a newspaper career that spanned three decades, and they all said the same thing: Cutting spending is easier than finding new sources of revenue.

Property owners know this. Power bills are among their biggest expenditures, but also are relatively easy to control. And homeowners want efficient energy and lower bills, according to this survey. So, why isn't more effort put forth in that arena? Presidential candidates are all atwitter about the economy, but I haven't heard one mention the need for energy efficiency. Isn't saving money a bipartisan goal?

This report (log-in required, but here also is a link to a press release) from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy suggests that energy consumption could be slashed up to 60 percent by 2050, saving an average of $400 billion nationwide - the equivalent of $2,600 per household.

The first sentence in the press release reads: "America is thinking too small when it comes to energy efficiency."

Is it ever. If thinking big could net U.S. consumers $400 billion in annual savings, here is an even more mind-blowing number: $16 trillion!. That is the estimated cumulative savings from 2012 through 2050 after paying for energy-efficiency upgrades, which admittedly would require up-front investment in most cases. After all, equipment has to be purchased and workers paid to install it.

Still, it would lead to an economic boost, giving families more money to spend and businesses more cash to invest - leading to at least 1.3 million new jobs by 2050. Wouldn't a Manhattan Project devoted to energy efficiency and clean energy make sense?

Energy efficiency is a gift that keeps on giving: The savings continue after the initial costs are recouped, often in as little as two years. the authors cite evidence that equates energy-efficiency upgrades to a return of 17 percent to 25 percent on investment. What other (legal) investment reaps those kinds of gains?

Deutsche Bank reaffirms that here, concluding after exhaustive research that energy-efficiency upgrades are a safe investment. A bank executive said in a study cited by CleanTechnica that, "...Savings alone were sufficient to fully support loans for energy efficiency capital improvements." As a follow-up, this piece in Forbes says loans that fund energy-efficiency retrofits could make money for banks.

Those kinds of benefits are often ignored when assessing the power of energy efficiency, experts say. "Unfortunately, these non-energy benefits from energy efficiency measures are often omitted from conventional performance metrics," the authors of the ACEEE study contend.

And let's not forget the environmental and other benefits. "There is a strong historical record that energy efficiency can provide perhaps the largest single wedge of GHG emissions reductions," the study notes. The report also cites lower maintenance costs after the upgrades.

Both studies reinforce our belief that energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit of the clean-energy movement. Our nonprofit works with local governments to reduce energy consumption, and has helped Valley communities realize energy savings of more than 16 million kWh.

That's a big deal in this era of shredded budgets and staff cuts. Maybe we can help preserve someone's job by shaving thousands off a power bill.

That's not to say that progress isn't being made. President Obama and former President Bill Clinton tag-teamed on this $4 billion plan, more businesses and organizations (check out this link) are discovering the power of energy efficiency, and California is considering instituting the nation's first energy-efficiency standards for battery chargers, which waste enough electricity to power a city the size of Bakersfield, according to this story in the San Jose Mercury News.

California is the nation leader in energy-efficiency, but other states are nipping at its heels. In Tennessee, officials are using some money from a $24 million settlement with the TVA to fund energy-efficiency programs. Minnesota also is getting in on the act. More on that here and here.

Individual states, businesses and groups are focusing on energy efficiency because they recognize the benefits to their entities. But a unified campaign is lacking, although this gives me hope. Saving energy saves money, creates financially stronger households and businesses and is good for the environment. It's time to get serious about it.

Energy Efficiency: The Gift That Keeps On Giving



Energy efficiency is something our nonprofit knows well. A relatively modest investment can net impressive yields. Local governments and businesses can reap big rewards, but many homeowners see good returns too.

But energy efficiency outreach can be a tough sell. My wife says it is because efficiency comes with a price tag. The initial expenditure (insulation, new lights and air conditioners and the like) turns people off. "People want it for free," Mary Lou says, even though there can be an associated tax deduction.

I think of energy efficiency as an investment. I could pay a relatively modest amount to reap greater returns in the future. But, the whole efficiency thing is difficult for some to grasp. People ask, "How can changing lights and similar measures possibly make a significant difference in my future?"

By reducing your power bill. That means you are spending less, which means you have more money in your pocket. Money you can sock away for college or retirement, or spend on something else - thus stimulating our moribund economy. By some estimates, a nationwide cut of 30% would save $40 billion ANNUALLY by 2030, and could be a bright spot in the jobs market. Home builders are adopting guidelines and buying into the idea, as are schools and others.

Consider University of California at Santa Cruz. Officials there are spending, after rebates, $104,000 to change out lights in the library. The project will pay off in three years.

Still, more than one person has called energy efficiency "intangible," although it is anything but. In this post, Sara Hayes of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), explores that myth, and others.

The end of the year is approaching, and people are starting to make plans for 2012. When you make that resolution or get that tax return, take a few moments to consider making your home or office more energy efficient. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Photo of an air conditioner

California pushed from top energy efficiency spot

It had to happen.

California, the land of energy efficiency pioneer Art Rosenfeld, has lost its title as the most miserly power consumer to East Coast upstart Massachusetts.

It's the first time in the five-year history of the annual Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE, that Massachusetts has displaced the high-performing Golden State. The group says "a sour U.S. economy, tight state budgets and a failure by Congress to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy have not slowed the growing momentum among U.S. states toward increased energy efficiency."

Energy efficiency budgets increase

The report says that overall budgets for energy efficiency increased to $4.5 billion in 2010, up about a third over the previous year. Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama and Maryland rated the most improved, and about half the nation's states have established energy efficiency standards and improved building codes.

"Energy efficiency is America's abundant, untapped energy resource and the states continue to press forward to reap its economic and environmental benefits," says ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel, in a statement.

Nadel calls energy efficiency "a pragmatic, bipartisan solution that political leaders from both sides of the aisle can support."

Rounding out the top 10 are New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut and Maryland.

Poll says people want efficiency

The news comes on the heels of a poll released by the University of Texas at Austin, which found that less than 14 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction on energy.

University officials say that of more than 3,400 consumers surveyed, 84 percent were worried about U.S. consumption of oil from foreign sources and 76 percent about a lack of progress in developing better ways to use energy efficiently and develop renewable sources.

Bill Powers, president of UT Austin, put it this way: "This survey shows that the public craves leadership on energy issues."

Embracing the submeter

The public isn't the only place where concern over energy sources and energy efficiency are fostering change. Corporations, building managers and others that pay big utility bills for operations of major square footage or spread over multiple buildings are looking to trim costs through efficiencies.

Paul Baier of GreenBiz.com reports that the next big expansion in energy efficiency will be "submetering," or installing sensors and meters in buildings to monitor and tweak energy usage. "As more and more companies find energy savings opportunities based on submetering their facilities, interest in the technology continues to grow," he writes.

Baier says much of the savings comes through behavior changes, such as turning off unneeded equipment. The University of Texas poll likewise finds that many U.S. consumers would be willing to employ similar strategies on their own turf with 68 percent concerned about the energy efficiency of their homes.

Could politics be far behind?

Judging by this widespread potential adoption of efficiency, politicians won't be far behind including it in their platforms and bragging about measures they've taken in their own homes. Although I just can't imagine Texas Gov. Rick Perry going Al Gore and saying his house is net zero.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says his state set aggressive goals and laid the foundation for greater investment in energy efficiency through its Green Communities Act, "and now we are proud to be a model for the nation and world."

Expect more of the same after this year's numbers are tallied. Maryland and Illinois, which showed big gains, are taking energy efficiency seriously.

Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, says Illinois Gov. Martin O'Malley also set aggressive energy efficiency goals, saving residents more than 700,000 megawatt hours of electricity and more than $91 million since 2009.

Warren Ribley, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director, says the investment of more than $600 million in energy efficiency projects over the last four years has meant putting people to work. "We are creating jobs, building more sustainable communities and securing our place in the new energy economy," he says in a statement.

The bottom performing 10 states from last to No. 42 are: North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama and South Dakota.

Photo: Boston Harbor at night.

Energy efficiency movement gains steam

Energy efficiency doesn't boast the sex appeal of solar or wind power, but it gets results.

And influencing more people to champion the cause could siphon off a large resource of untapped energy savings. At least that's the conclusion of a study released this week by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE.

After all, the nation’s largest single user of energy -- accounting for about half -- is homes and commercial buildings, said William Fay, executive director of the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition, this week. Fay made his remarks at the Final Action Hearings for the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday where building officials from across the country voted for a series of new building energy codes expected to improve energy efficiency in new buildings by 30 percent, according to BrighterEnergy.org.

The ACEEE study's authors said programs that motivate green behavior could lead to significant savings and should be implemented with greater zeal. "We need to design and build programs that change habits as well as light bulbs," they said.

The sentiment reflects that of Art Rosenfeld, the nuclear physicist and California energy commissioner, a pioneer and tireless advocate of energy efficiency. He was dubbed the Godfather of Green by KQED and told CBS news in a past interview that the United States' descent into an unrepentant energy guzzler can be explained simply: "Energy in the U.S. is dirt cheap. And what's dirt cheap is treated like dirt."

Rosenfeld adopted the position advocated by ACEEE early on, successfully working to change consumers' wasteful habits in California.

The state got the message -- with Rosenfeld's help -- back in the 1970s at the height of the anti-nuclear movement. To avoid building another reactor, the state went with energy efficiency, improving building and appliance standards. The result: the Rosenfeld Effect, which resulted in the flattening of the state's per capita energy use.

ACEEE's researchers made a number of recommendations for enhancing the acceptance of energy efficiency. One was increasing the visibility of energy using behaviors. One particular program, already offered by PG&E's smart meters, allows consumers to see more clearly how much power they consume.

The smart meter on my house enabled me to monitor power consumption of my new SEER 13 air conditioning unit. I had switched from an evaporative, or swamp cooler, and was worried about ballooning electric bills. Fortunately, those didn't come to pass, and my family was able to keep summer cooling bills relatively low, keeping the thermostat on 78 degrees.

We're still not great about dealing with vampire power -- the electronic devices all over the home constantly sucking energy and consuming as much or more than 10 percent of a home's power demand.

Changing habits can make a big difference to the environment, not just the bottom line. As Rosenfeld said, "To delay global warming, you get halfway there with efficiency."

Energy efficiency is what many refer to as the "low-lying fruit" in the move to clean energy. For instance, a recent report by Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research estimates potential annual energy savings of more than $41.1 billion if all U.S. commercial space built as of 2010 were included in a 10-year retrofit program.

The next step in the clean energy movement is more costly.

Rosenfeld said renewables like solar and wind should be pursued once energy efficiency is addressed. "But renewables cost you money, while efficiency saves money," he said.