Tue, 07/10/2018 - 08:30 AM
Yes, unfortunately an energy-inefficient building can make you sick, lead to premature death, and inflict social injustice. But the building industry and public housing officials can reduce this human suffering by taking steps to improve – wait for it – energy efficiency. That’s because efficiency improves air quality inside and out of homes and apartments, while also helping residents survive extreme weather events, heat waves, and cold weather. Moreover, energy efficiency reduces the need for utility companies to burn fossil fuels, thereby curbing the types of air pollution that also create many human health problems -– especially for low-income Americans.
Getting to Zero Isn't Actually That Difficult
Tue, 06/26/2018 - 12:44 PM
Is it possible to build, buy, or rent affordable, hyper-efficient home –- what the U.S. Department of Energy calls Zero-Net Energy or Zero Energy Ready Homes? These super-efficient homes aren’t just for the rich; middle-class Americans can afford to buy ZERH, and public housing authorities increasingly encourage green building practices because of the well-documented economic and health benefits of energy-efficient buildings.
Mon, 06/25/2018 - 02:10 PM
Electric utilities in the Southwest expanded their energy efficiency programs over the past decade, except for a few bumps in the road (see chart). In 2017, all of the major utilities in the region were at or above the national average savings percentage for larger utilities which is approximately 0.9 percent of retail electricity sales according to ACEEE. The leading utilities, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) and the Salt River Project (SRP), achieved savings equal to 1.5 to 2.0 percent of ...
Number of workers outstrip all other energy sectors
Mon, 05/21/2018 - 01:04 PM
As of 2017, there were 127,750 jobs focused on improving energy efficiency in the Southwest region (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) according to the newly released 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Moreover, energy efficiency remains the top sector for energy jobs in the Southwest, ahead of oil and natural gas production, electric power generation, and other energy supply sectors covered in the report.
Measure enables investments in transit, local needs, and bike and walking paths
Wed, 05/09/2018 - 04:15 PM
The Centennial State took an important step toward untangling the traffic jams and air pollution worries that have arisen, in recent years, as jobs and populations have grown. Notably, Colorado’s leaders did so through bipartisan compromise and months of negotiation, as the state House and Senate on May 8 passed a key transportation measure called Senate Bill 1—the first major transportation funding bill since 2009. But state lawmakers also demonstrated a new-found understanding that Colorado can’t just build new highway lanes if it wants to solve its transportation challenges. The state clearly needs to get serious about expanding public transit, encouraging options such as ride-sharing, and making communities more appealing to bicyclists and pedestrians.
Public transit, local needs, and biking and walking infrastructure crucial
Mon, 04/09/2018 - 04:46 PM
Consumers wallets will be hit, too
Fri, 03/30/2018 - 06:47 AM
The national clean car standards, which limit tailpipe emissions from cars, represent one of the biggest steps the federal government ever has taken to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration adopted the clean air rules in 2012, when automakers agreed to a set of standards requiring them to gradually reduce pollution and improve fuel economy. Under this plan, by 2025 the average car would have about double the fuel economy and emit only about half the carbon pollution of cars on the road today.
But now, the Trump administration proposes to undo these clean car standards and, in doing so, would jeopardize public health, the U.S. economy, and the environment.
Thu, 03/29/2018 - 05:20 PM
Every one of Colorado’s 333 local jurisdictions is responsible for adopting its own local building code. That diversity gives us a comprehensive picture of how energy codes are perceived, considered, adopted, amended, and enforced across different parts of the state, and how they change over time. Here are five trends we’ve seen shaping the status of our energy codes in Colorado so far in 2018. These themes appear in many other home-rule states, too, so Colorado’s experience can be highly informative to builders and policymakers outside of the Centennial State.
Desert city saves residents millions on energy bills, earns SWEEP’s 2018 Energy Codes Count Award
Thu, 03/15/2018 - 02:50 PM
Energy codes matter: In 2016, the residential and commercial sectors devoured about 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption (or roughly 39 quadrillion British thermal units), the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a May 2017 report. That voracious appetite can be reduced, though, if homes and commercial buildings include the latest efficiency technologies, such as “smart” thermostats, high-quality insulation, and advanced heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. This year, we’re presenting the Energy Codes Count award to Henderson, NV. In 2014, Henderson adopted the 2012 IECC, which at the time was the newest version of the code. In the four years since adopting the new IECC, Henderson has saved its residents and businesses about $2.3 million on utility bills and reduced the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 30,254 metric tons, according to SWEEP’s analysis.
Goal: Nearly 1 million EVs registered in the state by 2030
Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:59 AM
The state of Colorado has just released a bold new electric vehicle plan that builds on the state’s work to date and shows the way to an electrified future. Perhaps the most important goal in the plan is to go from about 13,000 EVs in Colorado at the end of 2017 to 940,000 by 2030.
Helping Cannabis Growers Save Energy
Fri, 12/29/2017 - 11:17 AM
Indoor cannabis grow operations can be very energy intensive, using about ten times the amount of energy per square foot as a typical office building. In states where either medical or recreational cannabis is legal, utilities can achieve big energy savings by proactively engaging with these customers.
SWEEP just released a new report on this topic, “A Budding Opportunity: Energy efficiency best practices for cannabis grow operations.” Three leading utilities in the Northwest are reaping ...
How concept houses at college competition compare with what residential builders offer today
Fri, 10/27/2017 - 02:15 PM
The buzz at the 2017 Solar Decathlon proved infectious, thanks to the human energy and excitement of the college students worldwide who participated in the October event in Denver. And as a professional in energy-efficient buildings, I was impressed by what the young people demonstrated: new concepts, some pretty amazing technology, well-designed and cool-looking houses, and their willingness to "stretch the envelope" (pun intended). The competition also gave me an opportunity to reflect on ...
City tackles DOE's Better Buildings Challenge
Mon, 10/23/2017 - 07:00 AM
Reno embraced Nevada’s newly re-invigorated push toward cleaner energy when the city launched REENERGIZE RENO, its ambitious program to improve the efficiency of municipal, commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings by 20 percent by 2025. The move shows how local governments, coupled with forward-looking state policies, can reduce pollution, conserve water, curb climate change, and create jobs even as they help consumers and businesses save money.
REENERGIZE RENO is part of the U.S. ...
SWEEP documents how utility programs help consumers, businesses and the environment
Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:06 PM
SWEEP’s updated and just-published fact sheets show the benefits to consumers and the environment from energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. SWEEP’s full paper, reviewing the history and effects of these programs, can be read here. Some of the information deserves emphasis and is summarized in this blog.
The fact sheets and paper demonstrate that electric utilities in the region have generated enormous ...
State is accepting comments through October 13
Wed, 09/13/2017 - 06:30 AM
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) has released a draft plan on how the state will allocate approximately $70 million in funding that the state will receive as part of the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. The settlement funds are designed to reduce air pollution from vehicles, in order to mitigate the effects of the non-compliant, diesel-fueled Volkswagens.
During a 2016 public comment period, the public overwhelmingly told the department ...
Southwest builders honored in 4 of 5 categories
Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:45 PM
Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognizes the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program builders with the department’s Innovation in Housing Awards. Only the top 1 percent of builders in the nation receive these prestigious awards. But this year, builders from SWEEP states won the Innovation in Housing awards in four of the five categories: Affordable Home, Multi-Family Home, Production Home and Custom Home (Buyers). The Custom (Spec) category was the only housing category without a ...
Mon, 08/28/2017 - 07:15 AM
Federal energy efficiency programs within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are threatened with devastating budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration. Should citizens, businesses, and elected officials in the Southwest care? Absolutely!
According to a 2017 DOE report, Southwestern states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, and WY) are home to 123,000 energy efficiency jobs -- more jobs, in fact, than any other segment of the energy industry including oil ...
SWEEP report offers specific steps that the city can take
Fri, 08/25/2017 - 07:21 AM
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on July 11, 2017, in which he pledged that Colorado would meet the Paris climate targets, and set goals for reducing emissions through more renewable energy, ramping up utility energy efficiency programs, making buildings greener, and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
In order to meet these emissions targets, the state will need to ramp up electric vehicle adoption, and do it fast. While the EV market in ...
Colorado's sources for electricity cleaner than in other states
Wed, 08/23/2017 - 12:05 PM
Two of Colorado’s most important political leaders recently adopted plans that encourage greater adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), both as a strategy to help curb climate change and to improve the air that Denverites breath.
Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on climate that includes the development of a statewide EV plan, while Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a Mobility Action Plan, which calls for multiple steps to encourage EV adoption.
Now, a new report ...
Energy codes create safe, resilient, and habitable structures
Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:51 PM
Building codes ensure and protect the safety of the houses and buildings where we live and work. The International Energy Conservation Code, or IECC, is one of a suite of model national building codes adopted by state and local jurisdictions to ensure a bare minimum of durability, quality, health, and safety.
Once in a while, we hear building officials mistakenly say they don’t adopt or inspect for the energy code, “because it is not a life-safety code.” This comment, however, stems from a ...
Hint: It’s Not Fossil Fuels Production
Wed, 07/19/2017 - 01:56 PM
The Powder River Basin in Wyoming is the largest coal-producing region in the U.S. There are tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells as well as over 1,900 wind turbines operating on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Eastern New Mexico is a major oil and gas producing region, and large-scale solar power plants are sprouting up across the desert Southwest. But which segment of energy industry supports the most jobs in the energy-rich Southwest?
Answer: It’s the energy efficiency industry, ...
Reasons for Progress Could Serve as National Model
Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:44 PM
This Zero-Energy home in Durango, Colorado, keeps residents warm even in winter at an elevation of over 6,500 feet.
More than 60 percent of the most energy-efficient homes built today in the country have been constructed in the Southwest. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of the homebuilders who make these highly efficient houses also are based in this region. The reasons for this success could serve as a model for other parts of the nation seeking to improve the efficiency and quality of ...
States, cities can embrace EVs, add public transit
Mon, 06/12/2017 - 01:23 PM
When President Donald Trump recently walked away from the Paris Climate Agreement, his decision spurred many states, cities and businesses nationwide to step up their own push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what the federal government does or doesn’t do.
One key area for action is transforming America’s transportation systems. Cars and trucks are now the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Emissions from electricity generation are declining due to the ...
But some state lawmakers want to cut useful program
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:30 AM
Colorado lawmakers are debating a proposal to eliminate tax credits that encourage consumers to buy cleaner, energy-efficient electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuel vehicles. Opponents of the program, notably the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity, are feeding legislators incorrect information about how much most consumers can benefit from the program. Despite the opponents’ claims, EVs are not toys for the rich. More than three-quarters of EVs sold in Colorado have ...
Cities and Counties Adopt EV Ready Codes
Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:55 PM
The best time to plan for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is before most consumers even know that they will want one. Communities that require builders to install EV charging capabilities in new apartments, single-family homes and commercial offices will make the transition away from gasoline-powered cars easier for their residents. Moreover, these 21st Century building codes will encourage consumers to consider purchasing EVs and help the communities take an important step toward a ...