green buildings

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

wEEkly update

06/30/2017


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LG Input Requested: Staff Engagement Information and Strategies
Request for information from local government agencies regarding staff engagement practices as they pertain to energy efficiency, sustainability, climate change, climate adaptation etc. efforts and initiatives. We’d like to hear about how you garner support for your projects/initiatives from decision makers, city council/board of supervisors, your staff, and your community. We also want to hear about what are some of the obstacles you face in moving projects forward from conception to implementation. If your organization has rolled out an engagement strategy that was successful in changing the culture in your organization to be supportive of your initiatives we’d love to hear about it.  This information will help guide the development of a staff engagement plan for a fellow local government

Please contact Rosie Kang, Willdan Energy Solutions at rkang@willdan.com or (626) 633-6218 to provide your input.

News and Opportunities

Save the Date - Sept. 19-20 GCC Fall Workshop
The Green Cities Council invites you to join its Fall 2017 workshop in Oakland, California on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 19 and 20.

Stop, collaborate and listen: California stakeholders want to open electric system communications
As Distributed Energy Resources (DER) proliferate, efficient dispatch of those resources in wholesale power markets will require communication between DER providers, distribution operators, and the transmission operators.

Building Codes Don’t Save Electricity … or Do They?
New evidence suggests that California’s original Title 24 building codes delivered more savings than prior research had found (although not as much as the program architects had originally envisioned).

San Juan Capistrano sues state regulators to block $350-million power line project
In a 35-page lawsuit filed late Friday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the Orange County municipality asked the court to stop the project, citing reports of excess power on the state’s electric grid.

California Lawmakers Model an Electric Car Program After the State’s Successful Solar Initiative
AB 1185 seeks to use up to $3 billion in funds to offer larger rebates to California electric car buyers.

Why Don’t Green Buildings Live Up to Hype on Energy Efficiency?
“The performance gap is real, and we must be aware of models not properly capturing things. We have cases where modelers will come up with a savings measure that is more than the energy use of the house, because they are just working with the model."

Open Call for Ideas - Resilient by Design
Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is an exciting new research and design initiative hosting an open call for ideas to identify sites vulnerable to the impacts climate change.

Career Opportunities

Multiple Positions - Redwood Coast Energy Authority

Senior Energy Programs Coordinator Position - County of SLO

StopWaste Energy Council Program Manager

Sustainability Project Manager - BART

Click here to find previous job announcements
 



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



7/7 - Demonstration of San Francisco's Solar + Storage Sizing Tool
Through a Department of Energy "SunShot" grant, the City and County of San Francisco has developed a publicly available tool for sizing and rating PV solar and battery storage to provide extended back-up power.

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

EPA honors highly efficient building designs

Efforts to save energy by designing more efficient buildings continue to gain steam.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized about 100 commercial building design projects estimated to be nearly 40 percent more energy efficient than typical buildings. The agency made the announcement at the American Institute of Architects National Convention in Washington, D.C. The projects were submitted by 43 architecture firms and achieved Designed to Earn the Energy Star certification.

Projects that receive Designed to Earn the Energy Star certification are In total, the projects recognized at the convention are estimated to prevent nearly 175,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and save more than $23 million in annual energy costs across 10 million square feet of commercial space.

"These new building design projects are helping to save energy and money from the ground up for American families and businesses," says Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in a statement. She says they range from skyscrapers to rural elementary schools.

Commercial and residential buildings consume about 40 percent of all energy in the United States and about 70 percent of all electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And electricity consumption in the commercial building sector is expected to increase another 50 percent by 2025.

In total, the projects recognized at the convention are estimated to prevent nearly 175,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and save more than $23 million in annual energy costs across 10 million square feet of commercial space.

The EPA says that by 2035, 75 percent of all buildings will be new or renovated and that architecture firms are "uniquely positioned to design energy efficient buildings and reduce carbon emissions."

Here are several highlighted projects:

High Performance Computing Research Center at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. Architect is Gensler. Comments: "This project design provides power to the computers while using as little energy as possible. During winter, the air conditioning system can be switched off and giant louvers, or movable slates, can be opened to let in cold outside air."

Kroger Store in Dallas, Texas. Architect is Robertson Loia Roof. Comments: "This design incorporates energy efficient features such as cooler/freezer refrigerant heat replacement systems and roof planters for heat island effect reduction and shading. White high solar reflective roof material is also in the project plan to minimize sunlight absorption."

Red Hawk Elementary School in Erie, Colo. Architect is RB+B Architects. Comments: "The sustainable design of Red Hawk Elementary School creates a vibrant place for kids to learn with a central space connected to all parts of the school which allows for interactions amongst students and teachers. Sustainable features include proper orientation of classrooms to maximize daylight, displacement ventilation coupled with ground source heat pumps as well as radiant floor heating, low flow fixtures, and highly insulated building envelope."

Breathe deep: Beating greenhouse gases won't be easy

Contemporary cast of musical Hair, courtesy Joan Marcus.
Recession does have some positives.

The stalled economy reduced demand for gasoline and diesel and electric power. People drove less, bought fewer items and used less energy as a result. The production of greenhouse gas -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases -- peaked in 2007 at 2.752 billion metric tons, dipped to a low of 6.608 billion in 2009 before showing a little robust "recovery" by increasing to 6.821 billion in 2010, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

These and other fascinating facts can be found in 2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While that may sound encouraging, a deeper look at the numbers shows that U.S. consumers, business and government continued to show a prodigious hunger for fossil fuels.

Bad air on the rise

Production of greenhouse gases just from fossil fuel combustion (that's vehicles and stuff like energy generation) rose to 5.388 billion metric tons in 2010, a 13.7 percent increase from 1990.

The culprits? Electricity generation accounts for 34 percent, transportation 27 percent and industry 20 percent. The rest comes from agriculture, commercial, residential and other sources. Just for a little perspective, an average automobile produces 5.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.

This stuff isn't good. In addition to mucking up the skies, the EPA ruled in 2009 that greenhouses gases are the primary cause of climate change. This leads to higher temperatures and longer heat waves and, among other things, threatens the health of Americans. Increases in ground-level ozone pollution, which is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, have been linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Forecast in the 60s

The information is hardly new. A prediction can be found in the original Broadway cast recording of "Hair." The song, "Air," is as real now as it was then: "Welcome sulphur dioxide, Hello carbon monoxide. The air, the air is everywhere. Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep." And so on. The lyrics are permanently seared into my brain, courtesy the first record I laid my hands on. --


Strange to think that "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" debuted off Broadway in October 1967. Seems like yesterday. I'm kidding. Seriously, I tried getting my arts friendly son Calvin, now in his first year at Seattle University, interested in the soundtrack.

Nothing. No response. Nor did any of my kids seem to get Cheech & Chong. Oh well.

Aiding the cause

The bigger plan is getting them thinking about the air. Facts and figures do little to inspire most people, but add an effective anecdote of how it affects somebody and interest can increase geometrically. We learned this in the newspaper business. A good photo, a great story people can relate to and a writer and photographer could fill a city council chamber.

But I'm no longer a journalist and this will never appear in newsprint. Still, the axiom holds. I offer up an observation many in the San Joaquin Valley can relate to: On sunny hot days in the depths of summer, the skies often look like they've been coated with a fine layer of mud. The views of the Sierra from Valley towns and farms, which were once so crystalline and vibrant, just don't exist. And the air kind of tastes like dirt.

The solution is obvious. We've got to reduce the national production of greenhouse gases. The alternative is something I'd rather not contemplate. Sure, we could experience total economic meltdown. For instance, Spain just reported an unemployment rate pushing a quarter of its work force. That's one way. But hardly optimal.

One building at a time

Another approach has been adopted by many colleges, government agencies and private sector organizations. It involves reducing the climate footprint. This can be done relatively painlessly through building retrofits, practices like benchmarking energy use and policies that encourage reduction in water and waste as well as electricity.

California Gov. Jerry Brown took the plunge, issuing an executive order that state agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. The order also said that all new state buildings and major renovations after 2025 be designed and built to meet requirements of net-zero facilities. That means they generate as much energy as they use.

Brown's Order also says that as of 2020 half of new facilities should meet the net-zero requirement and that state agencies should make half their existing facilities meet the rule. It also includes reducing water use and adding plug-ins for electric cars and other changes.

"Doing something real about the growing threat of global warming requires more than just new laws. We must lead by example,” Brown says in a statement. “Greening the state’s buildings will shrink our environmental footprint and save taxpayers millions of dollars.”

No new world order

Pursuing climate friendly policies costs money. Not so much when it comes to green buildings but more so when looking to retire fossil-fuel-burning power plants.

Even the governments of Germany and Japan, which earlier pledged to push all out for green energy, are having trouble sticking to their goals. National Public Radio's Richard Harris, reporting from a meeting in London of energy ministers from around the world, says, "It turns out that right now, just about everything is conspiring to make it harder to clean up the world's energy supply."

Harris reports the International Energy Agency warned that nations are nowhere near being on track to avert significant climate change. He quotes David Victor at the University of California, San Diego, who says, "What's happened across the industrialized world is the governments are feeling poor these days."

Feed-in tariffs, which provide subsidies to make renewable energy competitive, are drying up and other incentives are being lost. The result has been a contraction of solar and wind companies in Europe and the United States. The reduction in price of natural gas, a direct result of hydraulic fracturing tapping new reserves, also has compounded the clean energy industry's problems.

The solution is to continue plugging along. Economic pressures will continue. The forecast continues to be in positive territory but disappointing.

So breathe deep, this won't be easy. And if you're looking for a way to help, 350.org is a great place to start.