Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

The wEEkly Update

For Local Governments and their partners

January 16, 2018




Credit: California Energy Commission

  Credit: California Air Resources Board

Resources and Opportunities
California air resources board – 2017 scoping plan, appendix b
CARB pollution mapping tool

California energy commission, blueprint issue 121
Comments open for “commercial ZNE action plan”
Fact Sheet: Computer rooms and data centers
Heat island community actions database

Implementation Model: Tying energy costs to building occupants
Tool: Benchmark my building
Find more resources and opportunities

Job Announcements

Upcoming events
Webinar: California legislative outlook 2018 - Jan 24
Forum: The Promise of Microgrids - Jan 25
Climate Action Training Information Session - Jan. 25
Webinar: Creating EE Programs that Better Serve Hispanic Households - Jan 30
17th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference - Feb. 1-3
2018 EPIC Sym posium: Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation - Feb 7
Yosemite Policymakers Conference - March 15-18
Find more events

Copyright © 2018 Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator, All rights reserved.
The wEEkly update for Local Governments and their partners.

Our mailing address is:
Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
980 9th St., Suite 1700
Sacramento, CA 95814

Happy METU Monday!

Happy METU Monday!

Is your infrastructure in need of a tune-up?

If you answered yes to the above question, then let us remind you about the Municipal Energy Tune Up (METU) Program.

METU offers energy efficiency project assistance from “cradle to grave” to all central valley local governments.

·         Energy Benchmarking measures energy usage at each of your sites to identify opportunities for energy and money savings.

·         Readiness Reports to outline the steps needed to get the project done and information to get projects approved.

·         Advanced Project Assistance should your staff lack the time to manage the project to completion.

These services are made possible with funding from PG&E and completely free of charge to you. Don’t have the budget for energy efficiency projects? We can help with that too!

Look out for METU near you!

We are excited to be working with so many of our local government partners.  In addition to our work in the City of Avenal.  We have also completed benchmarking for the City of Arvin and will be completing a lighting upgrade project on 7 of Arvin’s municipal buildings.  The City of Corcoran is our newest addition for whom we are currently in the process of benchmarking.  METU recently went out on a water audit with the Lincus WISE program for the City of Corcoran.  We are on the move!

Connect with us:
T (877)748-0841

Check out our NEW website!

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

wEEkly update


Here are your wEEkly updates:

SEEC Local Government Roundtable
The Local Government Roundtable is a great opportunity to share best practices and resources, discuss opportunities to overcome challenges, and highlight innovative local efforts. Current topics include Codes & Standards, PACE Financing and Streetlighting. For more information you can reply to this email or

News and Opportunities

City of Lancaster ZNE Ordinance
The City of Lancaster has passed a Zero Net Energy ordinance. New homes in Lancaster will be required to meet energy standards with rooftop solar.

BayREN Codes & Standards Program 2016 Annual Report
This report from the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) provides a detailed summary of the Codes & Standards activities in 2016.

2017 Charge! Program
BAAQMD is pleased to announce the 2017 Charge! Program, an incentive program that offers grant funding to help offset a portion of the cost of purchasing, installing, and operating new publicly available charging stations at qualifying facilities within the Air District’s jurisdiction.

Whole-Building Energy Use Data Access, Benchmarking, and Public Disclosure
AB 802 revises the Public Resources Code to require utilities to provide energy usage data for covered buildings to the owners, owner’s agents, or operators of those buildings upon request, and further requires the Energy Commission to establish a benchmarking and public disclosure program.

California Distributed Energy Future 2017 Mar. 8-9
Greentech Media will be hosting a conference focused on the integration and market for distributed energy resources (DER). The agenda will include policy, grid integration, rate design, and emerging technology.

Webinar: LED Lamp Specification and Certification
The Energy Commission will be hosting a webinar with Q&A for review current LED lighting specification that encourages lighting exceeding current standards.

In 2017, do as California is: Make air cleanup, job one – Part 2
An article from Alan Kandel, that highlights energy efficiency, green buildings and renewables as part of the larger effort to keep our air clean.

Publications and Resources

Blueprint Newsletter
The California Energy Commission's Energy Efficiency Division has a regular newsletter, Blueprint, focused on  Title 24 Building Efficiency Standards and Title 20 Appliance Standards.

Reach Ordinances
When exceeding statewide efficiency standards the California Energy Commission will review the proposed local ordinances. Some cities have already exceeded the 2016 standards that went into effect Jan 1, 2017 with several more pending.

Career Opportunities

Policy Associate, Berkeley/Sacramento
Rising Sun Energy Center is hiring a mission-driven Policy Associate to work towards our goal of being a catalyst for social and environmental systems change by engaging in a transformative policy platform.

Project Manager
The Local Government Commission has an immediate opening for a full-time project manager. They are seeking a mission-driven, detail-oriented person with a background in public affairs, local governance, and/or water policy and management.

Mentoring Program - AWWEE
The Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment (AWWEE) have launched their new mentoring program. Applications will be accepted through Today Friday, March 3.

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

3/7 Zero Energy Buildings: From Dream to Reality in Public and Private Sectors
This webinar will discuss Zero Energy Buildings across the public and commercial sectors, and highlight DOEs new Zero Energy focused accelerators.

3/16-3/19 (Yosemite National Park) Yosemite Policymakers Conference
Join mayors, city council members, county supervisors, city managers, and high-level department heads for the 26th Annual Yosemite Policymakers Conference.

4/26-4/27 Green California Summit (Sacramento)
The Summit provides a forum where innovations in policy, technology and practice can be showcased and shared.

5/5/17 (Long Beach) The Business of Local Energy Symposium 2017
Business of Clean Energy Symposium to convening government, business, and community leaders to accelerate California's shift to a clean energy economy and to exchange ideas about Community Choice Energy programs.

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

Cary Garcia Jr.
Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
Funding Wizard | Energy Standards Online Resource Center | Energy Code Ace

CivicSpark is now recruiting Project Partners for 2017-18
Over the past 3 years, CivicSpark, LGC's Governor's Initiative AmeriCorps program has provided 130,000+ hrs of climate and water capacity-building support to over 100 public agencies. If you are a local government, State agency, or an NGO with a climate or water action project need, visit our website to learn more and apply to receive project support!

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. U.S. Leadership and the Historic Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change
    The Paris Agreement commits the international community to capping global warming to "well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C." To achieve that, the agreement requires the world to "reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible" and "to undertake rapid reductions thereafter, in accordance with best available science."
  2. How California Stepped Up its Energy Efficiency Efforts in 2015 and What's Ahead
    As 2015 draws to a close, it's a good time to take a look at the incredible progress California has made toward scaling up energy efficiency and what we should do in 2016 to build upon our momentum.
  3. Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool
    This new updated version of the Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool lets you score any community's energy efficiency efforts using the metrics from ACEEE's 2015 City Scorecard. You can use this tool to evaluate community-wide initiatives, government operations, and buildings, utility, and transportation policies, as well as to compare your community's efforts against those of similarly-sized localities and learn about innovative energy practices successful in other places.
  4. NYC Energy  and Water Benchmarking Performance Map
    In New York City, of the nearly 3,000 public buildings with any significant energy use, almost one-third already have retrofits in place or underway. Those buildings represent 50% of GHG from City buildings. The City continues to make it easier for private building owners to do the same, launching a new tool to track energy and water usage at large buildings.
  5. Energy Calendar
    If you have any events you would like to see added to this calendar, please send details to
And that is all for this week - and for the year! The Weekly Updates will resume on January 8, 2016.

Would You Stream Your Energy Data Like A Netflix Movie?

As we embark on the the second month of 2015 we have already seen how our government feels about a clean energy future in the United States. The Obama administration is pushing for an 80 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by the year 2025.[i] But, wait to get those reductions don’t "we the people"need to make a change too? Homeowners as well as business owners are not large government entities that have endless amounts of disposal income. So, where does one start to becoming “green”?   Well let us here at SJVCEO help to point you in the right direction, since we have a bit of experience with energy benchmarking and upgrades.

When SJVCEO takes on a project with one of our local governments we always start with gathering energy usage data. To some this task may seem daunting, but trust us this step can be pretty easy when you have the right tools. The obvious choice would be to get your utility data downloaded monthly from your utility website. But, for those of us that like to know the up to the minute data there are a few new options on the market this year.

The first option for those types is wattvision. This product has you set up a sensor on your meter outside and connect that to the gateway that transmits the data. Your energy usage is then stored in the “cloud” of wattvision. Then you are able to login and access your up to the minute energy data, which comes in intervals of 15 seconds. This device will also alert you when you have an energy spike; that’s only if you tell the app to do so.  Wattvision also has a fun competitive nature about it. The product will allow you to share and compare with other users. Who knows you may even show up on their “Top Energy Savers Leaderboard.”

The second option would be the PowerCost. This tool has s sensor that is installed on your meter and will information wirelessly to a hand held monitor, pictures to the left. This tool allows you to see your kilowatt usage as well as cost per hour. PowerCost as is developed to work with 3rd party apps. One app that the company recommendeds is PloWatt.

Now we come to the third and final option Bidgely HomeBeat Energy Monitor. This device takes energy usage collection to a whole new level. This device doesn’t need to have anything connected to your meter, since it uses a specific program that allows it to wirelessly communicate.  This energy monitor collects data every 5 to 10 seconds and can be called somewhat of a “detective”. [ii]  This gadget can be put to detective mode, which will then allow you to see how much energy is being used by household items. One other fun item that Bidgely has to offer is the customer support tool. This tool helps to show utility customers why their utility bills are as high as they are. It makes it easier on everyone involved when it comes to billing disputes.

When all is said and done energy saving is in the hands of those that use the energy. If we are aiming to hit the 80 percent reduction we all need to make a change. Take the first step in making that change by monitoring your energy usage today!

[i] “The Obama-Biden Plan”, Feb., 9, 2015,

[ii] “Bidgely’s New Real-Time Energy Disaggregation Tools”, Feb., 9, 2015,

Benchmarking: Shooting hoops for energy efficiency

Benchmarking sounds a little like being the sixth man on basketball team.

You're not in the starting lineup, but you're good enough to provide the spark off the bench. The player who can make a difference down the stretch. There's Ricky Pierce, a Seattle Supersonic and two-time NBA sixth man, or -- to get more current -- Dion Waiters from Syracuse or Michael Dixon of Missouri.

But the kind of benchmarking I'm describing has none of the former's run-and-gun offense. In fact, it's downright dull. No points are scored here. A smothering defense keeps the excitement quite low.

Managing energy use

However, the practice of recording energy data, tracking changes and producing reports reflecting those alterations has become extremely popular in the past several years.

"We've had exponential growth," says one official on a recent webinar explaining the latest in data benchmarking.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started its Portfolio Manager program in 1999, signing just a few buildings that first year. Since then, it's grown to about 300,000 buildings, and the rate of expansion is expected to continue.

What's cool really isn't the data entry part. That is mind-numbing. No bones about it. The interesting aspect comes after the data, or energy-qualifying benchmarks, have been established. It's at that point the building owner knows just how much he/she/it pays every month and can view the seasonal fluctuations.

Retrofits make the difference

The sexy part is adding new stuff, when the building owner adds energy efficient lighting, installs extra insulation, replaces windows, adds a heat-reflecting cool roof, swaps out an old rickety AC unit for a super-efficient SEER 15 or installs occupancy sensors.

For larger buildings, savings also can come from installing a sophisticated building information management system that monitors temperature, water consumption, occupancy, air flow and electricity use room by room. Metering also works in industrial applications, and companies have reported full retrofit paybacks in less than a year and utility savings of 20 percent or more on their bills.

And tracking those savings on Portfolio Manager is when the proverbial light bulb in the head goes off. Of course, it's an LED bulb in this case.

Tracking changes

I track such changes from PG&E, which has attached a smart meter to my house. I've done a number of things to my 52-year-old home to make it better than average. I still have a way to go, but the personal payback is when I read a letter from the utility stating, "You have saved 13 percent this quarter over the year before."

Portfolio Manager operates essentially the same way.

Its features allow the user to group buildings, view average ratings across a group, control access to building data and generate reports to brag to shareholders or partners and business associates just how much money has been saved. The great thing about an energy efficiency retrofit is that once it earns its money back, the future savings are nothing but gravy.

Energy Star

EPA enables top-performing buildings to earn the Energy Star rating, with organizations and building portfolios that show a 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent and more level of savings able to qualify for Energy Star Leader recognition.

That's good for a company interested in winning points with customers or a city wanting to save money in this budget-busting economy.

We're no stranger to the benchmarking concept at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. However, this is my first foray into actually using the site. I'm thinking in between populating the various data fields like building age, square footage, how many PCs, how many workers, hours of use and percentage of building air conditioned, a good distraction would be a nearby basketball hoop.

Best laid plans

However, today's temp of 109 or 110 makes that sound a little daunting. Still, I'd prefer it as a momentary distraction to four hours straight of keyboarding energy data. I would say I have a co-worker who loves benchmarking more than anything, but I'd be lying.

Regardless, this is good stuff.

And while it does take money to make money, there are a number of programs building owners can access. Utilities may provide on-bill financing programs to reduce kilowatt hour energy use.

Milton Bevington, a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts and member of the Cambridge Climate Protection Action Committee, says in a piece that municipalities have other methods of raising money.

"Virtually any essential-use energy efficiency project can be financed using a municipal lease, usually at a cost comparable to bonding," he says, adding that premiums are offset by lower transaction costs and payment terms.

Mandating monitoring

The practice convinced leaders of Philadelphia to mandate energy benchmarking for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet, and Katherine Tweed of reports the city is one of a growing list. And she says there's help. Companies are lining up to do the work.

So benchmark. You're in good company. Although my mind drifts back to Dennis Johnson when he was drafted in the second round by the Supersonics and tore up the back court with Gus Williams and Downtown Freddie Brown before winning it all with Larry Bird in Boston.

Now that's off the bench. RIP DJ.

Creating jobs while measuring energy consumption

These five words - "building energy rating and disclosure" - are enough to put people to sleep. What does that phrase mean? And why do I care, especially when the housewives are screaming again on reality TV? Now, they are really interesting.

Please, stay with me here. The housewives will be screaming again next week, but this is important. As it turns out, those five words are pretty significant in today's energy-saving environment, especially in California and Washington state, where they could lead to many new jobs.

Five cities and two states (New York City; San Francisco; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and California and Washington states) have passed laws requiring owners of large buildings to measure ("benchmarking" in industry-speak) and disclose how much energy their structures consume.

California calls its plan the "Nonresidential Building Energy Use Disclosure Program," which stems from AB 1103.The regulations require owners of nonresidential property to, before selling or leasing buildings, to benchmark their energy use, and to disclose that data to potential buyers, lessees and lenders.

The program is being phased in according to property size. Owners of structures with at least 50,000 square feet must benchmark this year. Owners of structures of 10,000 to 50,000 square feet must implement a program starting in January 2013. July 1, 2013, is the start date for owners of commercial buildings from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet.

Formal policies are in place in the five cities and two states, but thousands of properties have been benchmarked voluntarily throughout the nation - and the practice is growing as the sustainability movement gains speed. Our nonprofit is a leader in benchmarking and works with local governments throughout Central California. See more here.

Jobs also are being created - such as at FS Energy in New York City, which has added seven positions, and at Sustaining Structures in Seattle, which expects to triple in size after experiencing a 30 percent boost in its number of clients, according to studies and this press release by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), a nonprofit that promotes energy efficiency and produced two reports.

Another New York City business, Ecological, added more than 400 clients after the policy took effect there. "We anticipate this trend will continue with year of compliance reporting," Chief Operating Officer Lindsay Napor McLean stated in a media backgrounder released by IMT.

Spectacular things could happen if the policy became nationwide. IMT estimates 23,000 jobs could be created in 2015 and 59,000 jobs in 2020. A nationwide program would reduce energy costs by more than $18 billion through 2020, and would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 3 million vehicles.

The adage "you can't manage what you can't measure" holds true in benchmarking. Property owners can use the data to reduce energy costs, shrink their carbon footprint and score one for the environment .

IMT quotes Kevin Dingle. president of Sustaining Structures in Seattle as saying: "When an owner or manager sees a benchmarking score might be lower than expected, they're a little more receptive to improvements to bring the score up, which in turns lowers their utility costs. It makes it 'real world' for them when they see the numbers."

Andrew Burr, lead author of the IMT reports, says, "Better information means more competition for better buildings. . . And that means more work improving American buildings and more American jobs."

10 Clean Energy Predictions for 2012

Year-end forecasts are a common staple at newspapers. I don't think there was one year in my three decades as a reporter that I wasn't involved in a story that either looked at the current year in the rear view or predicted what was to come.

So, I continue in that vein, except this time I have help from Michael Kanellos of Here are his top 10 predictions for 2012. I don't think he is too far off, especially when it comes to No. 2 (jobs in renewable energy) and No. 5 (energy efficiency).

Sure, 2011 brought us the implosion of Solyndra, but it also ushered in the first stages of a solar boom in California. Try telling these 700 workers in Southern California's desert that renewable energy jobs are a myth.

And there are more to come. Dozens of solar projects are proposed for Central and Southern California, including where I sit in the farm-rich sun-kissed San Joaquin Valley. Many of the solar projects won't employ large numbers of people when they are operational, but construction workers ought to be kept busy for the next five years.

But I'm more excited about the prospects of a sincere advancement in energy-efficiency programs. Businesses, local governments and individuals are realizing that a modest investment in energy upgrades can yield impressive cost savings and a smaller carbon footprint. And those savings, unlike a tax refund or one-time windfall, continue after the initial payback. Want more evidence: check out this post, which contends "significant" savings occur.

Those savings can be reinvested into business operations, stimulate the economy or go into additional energy-saving programs that cut power bills even more. Efficiency really is the gift that keeps on giving - at least for this scientist who slashed his monthly power bill from $400 to $50.

The Christian Science Monitor has another take on energy efficiency here.

Government mandates are sparking some of the interest in energy efficiency. California, adhering to the the old adage "you can't manage what you can't manage," now requires through AB 1103 that "benchmark" - energy use data - for commercial structures over 50,000 square feet in size be available by July 2012. Here's more.

Critics complain that it is just more government meddling, but benchmarking is already pretty common, with Seattle and other cities mandating it, and thousands of buildings across the U.S. already marked. Energy is a landlord's largest controllable cost, and many property owners who complete benchmarking can qualify for Energy Star certification, which studies show increase the value and sales price of property. It also is used in LEED certification.

Let's see: Higher property values. Lower energy bills. Smaller carbon footprint. What's not to like?

(Photo of Seattle Skyline by Dave Gostisha)

New Initiatives Bring Even More Green To California

California's already green tint is spreading.

Today's release of draft regulations to protect consumers from toxic chemicals in products on store shelves is part of an overall Green Chemistry Initiative indicative of increasing environmental awareness in California.

Debbie Raphael, director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, which issued the draft regulations, summed up the program this way: “More and more, there’s an understanding that some of the health and environmental problems we see in the world today may, in fact, stem from toxic chemicals in consumer products," she said in a press release. "A number of other countries are already taking action, but our Green Chemistry Initiative puts California at the forefront.”

California is at the forefront of the sustainability movement in other ways too. Its 33 percent renewables mandate is one of the most ambitious in the nation. The state recently resumed a green tax credit, passed a cap-and-trade program and starting next year sellers of commercial property have to benchmark energy consumption.

Benchmarking is something my employer, the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization in Fresno, understands. The SJVCEO, as implementing partner of the Valley Innovative Energy Watch (VIEW), is helping six cities and two counties benchmark all of their facilities into the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager so they can better track energy usage.

(Our organization has created ‘Benchmarking Made Easy’, a ten-page training manual on how to use the online energy management system and how to create a benchmarking policy using data from benchmarking. The nonprofit also helps lead webinars and training sessions on the benchmarking.)

Critics say that going green is cost-prohibitive and unwise in this economic climate, but there is strong evidence of just the opposite. Many businesses have found that implementing sustainability programs, especially energy-efficiency measures, saves them much money with relatively minimal investment. Often, they can recoup the cost within a few years.

AT&T, for example, saved $44 million through energy conservation in 2010. Math whizzes at IBM thought their company could shave energy use 3.5 percent through efficiency, but wound up slashing 5.7 percent, or $30 million. Read more here.

The city of Fresno crunched data from PG&E and forecast a $260 million economic boost if residential and commercial property owners reduced energy consumption 30 percent. Learn more here.

Raphael expects the green chemistry program to benefit businesses as well. "Companies are finding new revenue opportunities as shoppers look for products they don't have to worry about," she said. "Early adopters, such as Apple, Green Toys, California Baby, Method and others...are proving it is a profitable business strategy."

And growing. A trip to Orchard Supply Hardware last week led me to an aisle filled with cleaning products. Nearly one half of it was products described as eco friendly. If that is a niche category, it is a much larger niche.

We are in the early stages of a transformation. Who knows if it will reach the industrial revolution status that some experts project, but clearly momentum is building. The younger generation will likely push it, as evidenced by UC Davis' recent announcement that student interest is leading to a new major in sustainable agriculture.

Photo of San Francisco

Webinar Planned To Help Cities Achieve Benchmarking Mandates

Benchmarking, which helps achieve substantial energy savings by establishing objective energy-performance measurements, is a way for state and local governments to slash their energy bills, which collectively can reach $10 billion per year.

The performance measurements help governments set goals, boost energy efficiency and monitor ongoing progress. Now, local governments can learn more about benchmarking by participating in an Oct. 27 webinar sponsored by the Local Government Commission through Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative. It is the 8th of 15 webinars focused on helping local jurisdictions increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases.

The webinar will feature a discussion of AB 1103, which requires energy-consumption benchmarking of all non-residential buildings in California beginning in 2012, and the disclosure of that information to prospective buyers. So, cities and local governments need to learn how to benchmark right away.

Local case studies of benchmarking in the San Francisco Bay area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California also will be highlighted. The webinar begins at 2 p.m and will adjourn at 3:30 p.m.

Participants can register or learn more here at the Local Government Commission web site.