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 those ideas and new technologies, their applicability for today’s new-home buyers, and finally how the decathlon concept homes compared in price to Zero Energy (ZE) homes on the market today.
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. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, designed to cut energy waste in large buildings.
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. The fact sheets and paper demonstrate that electric utilities in the region have generated enormous economic and environmental benefits through their efficiency programs.
Backsliding on utility energy efforts, on the other hand, would result in higher costs for consumers, waste precious water resources, and cause greater harm to the environment and public health.
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.
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:
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!
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 and gas production. The federal energy efficiency programs support and contribute to these jobs, while providing significant energy and cost savings to businesses and consumers, and significant reductions in CO2 and other pollutant emissions.
DOE's energy efficiency programs include programs to improve energy efficiency in industry, homes, commercial buildings, and vehicles.DOE provides R&D support to help develop new technologies that save energy in industry and buildings.
EPA's ENERGY STAR programs also support many jobs and help Southwest businesses and homeowners save money through labeling of energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and buildings. The six Southwest states are home to more than 907 businesses and organizations participating in the ENERGY STAR programs.
SWEEP reports 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.
A recently released pair of studies should help the state develop this plan. One study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (with funding from the state) modeled the benefits of several potential networks of fast chargers around the state. The other study was conducted by SWEEP on behalf of the City of Denver, with funding from the Regional Air Quality Council, and looked at how the city and metro area can accelerate EV adoption, by deploying more fast-charging sites across Colorado, and encourage the development of more charging locations at apartments and condominiums complexes.
Here are a few key insights from these studies:
Colorado's sources for electricity cleaner than in other states
Wed, 08/23/2017 - 12:05 PM
A new report conducted by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project on behalf of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health (with funding from the Regional Air Quality Council) shows why more EVs on the road – including affordable models such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt - will help both metro Denver and the planet.
Simply put, electric vehicles (and soon, electric SUVs and trucks, too) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent to 43 percent compared with gasoline powered vehicles. They can cut emissions of nitrous oxide (NOx) – by at least 38 percent and perhaps up to 63 percent and essentially eliminate emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These last two pollutants are important because they contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, which irritates human lungs and worsens respiratory illnesses.
By reducing the amount of ozone’s precursor chemicals in Denver’s air, electric vehicles will help solve one of metro Denver’s most vexing public health concerns. The findings of this report are important because they dispel the myth that EVs aren’t cleaner than gasoline vehicles.
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 basic misunderstanding of the energy code, and what it is designed to achieve.
We’re here to correct the record—the energy code fundamentally improves the durability of buildings as well as the health and safety of us humans inside. It’s not just a “nice-to-have.”
Hint: It’s Not Fossil Fuels Production
Wed, 07/19/2017 - 01:56 PM
Which segment of energy industry supports the most jobs in the energy-rich Southwest? Answer: It’s the energy efficiency industry, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). If public officials want to expand energy-related jobs, they should start by supporting energy efficiency initiatives including the federal energy efficiency programs funded by the DOE and EPA.
Reasons for Progress Could Serve as National Model
Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:44 PM
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 their new housing stock. SWEEP’s building team recently “crunched the numbers” from the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 updated list of homebuilders who construct houses according to the strictest energy efficiency criteria.
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.
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.
Cities and Counties Adopt EV Ready Codes
Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:55 PM
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. Some local governments have figured out an answer to how to make the changes happen. Recently, the cities of Boulder and Aspen, Colorado, joined the City and County of Denver, Boulder County and Salt Lake City in adopting an “EV Ready” building code.
States, local governments must pick up the slack
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 02:04 PM
If the adage “personnel is policy” holds true, energy efficiency and clean energy will face a tough four years with respect to federal policy. With a pullback in federal leadership, states and local governments will be left to pick up the slack.
$1.2 Million Saved: Value of Energy-Efficient Buildings to 50,000-Person Town
Tue, 12/20/2016 - 01:34 PM
What's the benefit to a local community of incorporating the newest energy efficiency measures into the building code? For one Colorado town, it’s already worth $1.2 million. The lessons from Parker (located southeast of Denver) underscore how local leaders can help their residents, businesses, homebuilders and commercial real estate developers recognize that spending a little money upfront can lead to big savings in the long run. Can your town, city or county show similar, positive results? Read on.
It's the first national Energy Efficiency Day: Get on board via social media.
Fri, 09/09/2016 - 04:25 PM
On October 5, 2016, a network of organizations and partners across the country will join together to promote the benefits of energy efficiency for the first-ever, nationwide Energy Efficiency Day. We are inviting you to participate. It's all happening this first year on social media, and we've made it easy for you to participate by providing a digital media toolkit. The toolkit has logos, hashtags, pictures and messages—everything you need to boost the visibility and benefits of energy efficiency here in the Southwest and nationally using your own digital media platforms: your website, Facebook page, Twitter, newsletter,blog, etc. This blog will tell you how your organization can participate.
SLC and Partners Got National Recognition for the New Program
Wed, 06/29/2016 - 12:42 PM
Salt Lake City, electric utility Rocky Mountain Power, Utah Clean Energy and several energy managers from commercial businesses in the city teamed up to develop a tool that could automate the tracking of energy use in the metro area's commercial buildings. Over two years, the partners tackled each obstacle and introduced an automated data system that would track and compare energy use amongst similar buildings. For their efforts, the city, utility and other partners were recognized by the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy in January of 2016 for being among a small handful of municipal-utility partners to create an automated program in the two-year project timeline. Most importantly, the program was a success. Here’s an account of what happened.
Mon, 04/25/2016 - 04:44 PM
The Environmental Protection Agency has included energy efficiency as a compliance option under the Clean Power Plan. This enables states and utilities to meet emissions reductions goals at least cost and—quite likely—net economic benefits for households, businesses and the economy as a whole. Whether states and utilities are waiting for a Supreme Court decision on the "stay" of the Clean Power Plan or moving forward with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency is the least-cost compliance path and has other benefits.