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Posts in Category: Buildings

Electrifying oil and gas production: A cleaner way

Electrifying oil and gas production: A cleaner way
When we burn gas to keep our homes warm and heat our hot water, or burn gasoline to power our cars, most of us don’t think about how these fuels are produced or the additional emissions involved in the “upstream” oil and gas production. But the upstream carbon pollutant emissions are significant, and there are ways to reduce and minimize them. Colorado and New Mexico are two of the leading states in oil and gas production, and carbon emissions from oil and gas production accounts for more... More
 

Statement by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project on West Virginia v. EPA

Statement by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project on West Virginia v. EPA
We at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) join the loud chorus of voices across the country opposing the United States Supreme Court’s June 30th decision in the West Virginia v. EPA climate case as both illogical and ill-advised. The high court chose to hamstring the Biden Administration’s efforts to meet our climate goals. The majority turned its back on the wishes of the American people, the overwhelming majority of whom support more aggressive national action to reduce... More
 

Colorado heat pump rebates and tax credits for 2022 and 2023

Colorado heat pump rebates and tax credits for 2022 and 2023
Although there may be supply chain constraints on some heat pump products, new rebates and tax incentives make this year — or next — an excellent time for homeowners to consider adding a new heat pump. Heat pumps are very similar to central air conditioning (AC) systems, but they have a reversible valve that allows them to provide both heating and cooling. Because Colorado’s electricity is becoming more and more renewable-based, heat pumps significantly reduce the home’s carbon emissions... More
 

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: Utah edition

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: Utah edition
If you are looking for a way to reduce your personal contributions to carbon emissions, a good place to start is switching to an efficient electric heat pump to heat and cool your home. For homes in Utah, this will have about the same impact as switching your car (or truck) to an electric vehicle. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) just released an updated study of the benefits of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for Southwest homes, about 65% of which currently... More
 

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: New Mexico edition

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: New Mexico edition
Moved by fires, droughts, and other climate change-driven extreme weather, more and more New Mexicans are asking, “what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint?” A good place to start is switching to an efficient electric heat pump to heat and cool your home. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) just released an updated study of the benefits of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for Southwest homes, about 65% of which currently use gas for heating. Gas prices have... More
 

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: Nevada edition

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: Nevada edition
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project just released an updated study of the benefits of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for Southwest homes, about 65% of which currently use gas for heating. Gas prices have increased significantly in the last six months, and as a result heat pumps and HPWHs are now much more cost-effective than they were one or two years ago. In addition, heat pump and HPWH performance and availability have continued to improve. For homes in Las Vegas and... More
 

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: Arizona edition

Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes: Arizona edition
If you are looking for a way to reduce your personal contributions to carbon emissions, a good place to start is switching to an efficient electric heat pump to heat and cool your home. For Arizonans, this also reduces the home’s annual heating costs by about 40%. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project just released an updated study of the benefits of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for Southwest homes, about 65% of which currently use gas for heating. Gas prices have... More
 

Smart land use: The untapped climate policy

Smart land use: The untapped climate policy
Fly into Denver International Airport (DIA) in the daylight and you can look down on acres of open land being groomed for sprawling single-family development. In 2021, over ¾ of lots under development in the Denver region were in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties, mostly single-detached homes built on undeveloped land far from jobs, shopping, and other destinations. This type of low-density, auto-centric growth is incompatible with Colorado’s air quality and climate goals, and will only... More
 

SWEEP study: Benefits of heat pumps for Colorado homes

SWEEP study: Benefits of heat pumps for Colorado homes
In response to devastating wildfires in Colorado and other climate change-driven extreme weather around the county, more and more Coloradans are asking, “what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint?” A good place to start is switching to an efficient electric heat pump to heat and cool the home. This switch would have a similar impact to switching from a gasoline-powered car or truck to an electric vehicle. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) just released an updated study of... More
 

SWEEP staff reflects on policy wins in 2021, gives hope for 2022

SWEEP staff reflects on policy wins in 2021, gives hope for 2022
With 2021 fading into the history books and a new year almost upon us, we thought it’d be the perfect time to check in with some of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project’s (SWEEP) energy efficiency experts to find out about a top policy win they’re particularly proud of from this past year, as well as a New Year’s resolution for 2022. On the heels of all that we’ve accomplished and celebrated over the past two decades, we are hopeful and looking forward to adding to those achievements. Happy... More
 

Arizona and the Build Back Better Act: An urgent call for support

Arizona and the Build Back Better Act: An urgent call for support
These are challenging times for Arizona. Record drought has caused another horrendous wildfire season and another summer of scorching temperatures and record heatwaves from Phoenix to Tucson. It’s also triggered the unprecedented decision to cut back Arizona’s share of water from the Colorado River, which will significantly impact our state’s hard-working farmers. In addition, intense heat exacerbates air quality problems, resulting in dozens of ozone alerts this summer and signaling unhealthy... More
 

On the cusp of a market transition: All-electric new construction in Colorado

On the cusp of a market transition: All-electric new construction in Colorado
We surveyed builders from across Colorado to uncover examples of new, all-electric homes — a trend far more common in other parts of the country, but finally gaining a foothold in southwestern climates thanks to some impressive technology advances. In SWEEP's recently-published fact sheet, we profiled 11 examples of all-electric construction either recently built or underway — including large master-planned developments, custom-built single-family homes, multifamily buildings, and a pre-K-12... More
 

Developer of Reno apartment complex reduces pollution by choosing heat pumps over gas

Developer of Reno apartment complex reduces pollution by choosing heat pumps over gas
There’s a critical need for additional housing in northern Nevada as the area sees rapid job growth associated with economic diversification. Charles Bluth, an entrepreneur who since 1969 has specialized in land acquisition and developments in California, Nevada, and Arizona, has helped respond to the local demand for multi-family housing with his 768-unit project, The Lakes at Lemmon Valley. This project notably avoids natural gas for space and water heating and cooking. Instead of fossil... More
 

Building Electrification and National Building Standards Support Each Other

Building Electrification and National Building Standards Support Each Other
Building electrification is the new buzz word for construction in states and cities. For the past 20 years, SWEEP has focused on bringing energy efficiency throughout the Southwest. Over this period, the building efficiency world has changed. If we think back only ten years ago, cities, states, and the building industry were in the throes of a deep recession which started, depending upon who you ask, in the finance and building industry. At that time, the focus to reduce energy consumption was... More
 

Proposed Arizona Law Could Prevent Municipalities from Adopting Energy and Water-Saving Codes

Arizona cities and counties could lose much of their ability to protect your health and safety when you are inside of a building
Proposed Arizona Law Could Prevent Municipalities from Adopting Energy and Water-Saving Codes
Two bills, which are being fast-tracked through the state legislature, would prevent local leaders from modifying certain kinds of building codes. These codes are designed to establish minimum standards for building safety, durability, efficiency, air-quality, water usage, and more. Under current law, local governments are allowed to establish local building codes based on local needs and values. That’s possible because Arizona’s constitution makes Arizona a “home rule” state, underscoring... More
 

Top Ten Energy Efficiency Stories from the Southwest in 2019

Top Ten Energy Efficiency Stories from the Southwest in 2019
In 2019, SWEEP and its allies were instrumental in securing approval of numerous new policies that will advance energy efficiency and vehicle electrification in the Southwest. Here is my list of the Top Ten success stories of 2019, in no particular order regarding importance. Colorado Governor Issues EV Executive Order On January 17th, newly elected Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued and Executive Order supporting vehicle electrification in the state. Among its directives, it... More
 

Surge of Interest in "Zero Energy Ready" Homes in Southern Nevada

Surge of Interest in "Zero Energy Ready" Homes in Southern Nevada
Please note: A previous blog post describing this event was a draft and posted before some errors were corrected. On the cusp of Thanksgiving, we extend our thanks to you for your patience and your ongoing support of energy efficiency. Tom Polikalas The "Zero Energy Ready Home" (ZERH) workshop, hosted by Southwest Gas on November 18, 2019 in Las Vegas, drew together a broad cross section of Nevadans to explore cost-effective ways to save energy, benefit Nevada's economy, and improve the... More
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor airPLUS Program Leaders of the Year Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor airPLUS Program Leaders of the Year Awards
Congratulations to EPA’s Indoor airPLUS Program 2019 Leader Award winners! Each year only one builder and one rater are selected for these prestigious awards. It is Energy Inspectors, based out of Las Vegas, second consecutive year to be selected. Thrive Home Builders is based out of Denver, CO and it’s the first year they have won this award. The EPA announced and awarded their Leadership awards at the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) High Performance Home Summit on October ... More
 

Southwest States Leading the Nation in Energy Efficiency Job Growth

Southwest States Leading the Nation in Energy Efficiency Job Growth
As SWEEP reported earlier, energy efficiency jobs are booming in the Southwest, growing almost 5% between 2017 and 2018 according to the 2019 U.S Energy and Employment report. Increasing energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves customers money on their energy bills, and provides a significant source of employment. A new report provides more detail on the key role of energy efficiency jobs in the Southwest and highlights the differences among states based on recent policy and ... More
 

Colorado’s Basalt Vista Neighborhood: “A Net Zero Affordable Housing Community”

by Nancy Kellogg
Colorado’s Basalt Vista Neighborhood: “A Net Zero Affordable Housing Community”
The town of Basalt, Colorado had a big problem. The local school district was struggling to attract and retain quality teaching staff due to low wages (30% less than comparable schools) and high local housing costs (30% more). But an innovative solution arose from this difficult situation that has resulted in an incredible community collaboration to build Basalt Vista, an all-electric, net zero, affordable housing community. Roaring Fork Valley (RFV), Habitat for Humanity (H4H), and... More
 

A New Model for Energy Codes in Home Rule States

A New Model for Energy Codes in Home Rule States
Most states adopt consistent and standard statewide building codes. But a handful of states – including the southwest states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming – leave code adoption up to each and every local jurisdiction, creating a patchwork of confusing and often-outdated codes. In Colorado, for instance, even though most high-construction areas have up-to-date codes, more than 150 jurisdictions have an energy code from 2009 or earlier, and another 50 jurisdictions have no building... More
 

Why the 2018 Building Energy Savings Code Is Fair to Solar Energy – and Good for Consumers

Changing one small part of IECC could unbalance the system
Why the 2018 Building Energy Savings Code Is Fair to Solar Energy – and Good for Consumers
As state and local officials tackle building energy code issues in 2019, they likely will hear discussions about how solar photo voltaic (PV) power should fit into the energy code, and if solar energy can “trade off” for energy efficiency. Some interest groups want policymakers to weaken the efficiency requirements for new homes if the houses also have solar energy, but those requests fail to understand three things: Solar energy and efficiency are not the same thing, and cannot be traded... More
 

Advancing Vehicle Fuel Efficiency and Emissions Reductions in the Southwest

Electrification has emerged as key climate strategy for the transportation sector
Advancing Vehicle Fuel Efficiency and Emissions Reductions in the Southwest
In November, 2018, Colorado joined 12 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the California Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards. The standards require the average real-world fuel economy of new vehicles to reach 36 mpg by 2025. Currently, the California LEV standards are identical to federal standards, but the Trump Administration is attempting to rollback the federal fuel efficiency standards and freeze the requirements in 2020, which will increase both pollution and fuel costs ... More
 

Cracking the Code on EV-Ready Building Codes

Among best ways for cities, states to encourage consumers to switch to electric cars
Cracking the Code on EV-Ready Building Codes
Imagine that you just bought a new condo and, since you care about saving the planet while saving yourself money, you’re also thinking about buying a new electric vehicle (EV). You check your new parking lot for an electrical outlet, only to find that there isn’t one. With persistence, you ask the property owner about installing an EV charging station in the parking lot for communal use, but after reviewing the building plans together, you discover that the property does not have the electrical ... More
 

Tucson and Pima County Lead With Ultra-Efficient Buildings

Both Approve 2018 Energy Conservation Code
Tucson and Pima County Lead With Ultra-Efficient Buildings
Future jobs and savings for homeowners and tenants all scored a big win within the past week, when the Tucson, AZ, City Council and the Pima County, AZ Board of Supervisors approved the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and council members from all six wards and, separately, all five Pima County supervisors agreed that future homes and apartments should provide healthy, secure, and energy-efficient housing in southern Arizona’s biggest... More
 
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