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Posts in Category: State & Local Government

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
 

New Xcel Energy Rate Could Speed RTD’s Purchase of Electric Buses

New Xcel Energy Rate Could Speed RTD’s Purchase of Electric Buses
The electric bus market is booming. As of September, more than 200 transit agencies nationwide had purchased more than 2,000 electric buses. Colorado’s Regional Transit District (RTD) has one of the largest electric bus fleets in the country with 36 all-electric MallRide buses traveling up and down the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. Electric buses have zero tail-pipe emissions and produce about half as much global-warming pollution as diesel buses making them better for public... More
 

Arizona Poised to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption

Arizona Poised to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption
Conversations centered on transportation electrification continue to pick up steam across the Southwest. This is especially true in Arizona since the Arizona Corporation Commission approved two electric vehicle policies in January 2019 and July 2019. Heightened interest in transportation electrification policies is one reason why SWEEP, Plug In America, and Arizona State University’s Energy Policy Innovation Council, recently organized the first annual Arizona Transportation Electrification... 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
 

Energy Efficiency Jobs Booming in the Southwest

Energy Efficiency Jobs Booming in the Southwest
The Southwest region (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) added 6,127 jobs focused entirely or partially on improving energy efficiency in 2018 according to the newly released 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. 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. The chart below shows the number of energy efficiency jobs in ... 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
 

Electric Power Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in the Southwest

The critical role of energy efficiency
Electric Power Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in the Southwest
One of energy efficiency’s many benefits is that it reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by decreasing the amount of electricity that utility companies must generate to meet customer demand. So, let’s look at just how big a role efficiency can play in cutting climate change pollution. In its recently released data on energy-related GHG emissions, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a continued decline in nationwide GHG emissions from electricity generation. Nationally, EIA ... 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
 

Autonomous Vehicle Policy: Taking the wheel on driverless cars

Will it be "heaven" or "hell" for traffic congestion?
Autonomous Vehicle Policy: Taking the wheel on driverless cars
Just about every day I open the paper and read about some new technological or business development regarding driverless cars. Most of these stories come with breathless anticipation of all of the great things that autonomous vehicles will bring: fewer crashes, less congestion, more access for people who can’t drive. In some authors’ telling, personal car ownership will quickly become a thing of the past, replaced by electric “robo” taxis called up on a moment’s notice, paving the way for a... More
 

SWEEP Endorses Sales Tax Increase for Colorado’s Transportation Needs

Only one ballot measure can untangle CO's transportation mess
SWEEP Endorses Sales Tax Increase for Colorado’s Transportation Needs
Coloradans can help untangle their transportation woes by supporting a ballot measure, currently called Initiative 153, but they shouldn’t be fooled by a go-nowhere alternative that does nothing to solve the complex problem. SWEEP endorses one measure that appears to have made the ballot. On August 6, organizers from Let’s Go Colorado delivered 198,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State for Initiative 153, which will let voters decide whether to raise the sales tax rate by 0.62... More
 

Group Buy Programs Boost Electric Car Sales

Offers key opportunities for regional collaboration on clean transportation
Group Buy Programs Boost Electric Car Sales
Widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption faces several challenges, including lack of consumer awareness, limited EV inventory, insufficient sales training, and the high price of new electric cars. EV group buy programs address these obstacles by bringing together local governments, nonprofits, electric utilities, auto dealerships, and auto manufacturers to boost EV sales through a combination of community engagement and EV purchasing incentives. What are EV group buy programs? EV group... More
 

Can Energy-Inefficient Buildings Harm Your Health?

Yes, unfortunately
Can Energy-Inefficient Buildings Harm Your Health?
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 ... More
 

Is it Possible to Buy a Zero-Energy Ready Home Without Breaking the Bank?

Getting to zero isn't actually that difficult
Is it Possible to Buy a Zero-Energy Ready Home Without Breaking the Bank?
Download a PDF version of this article 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? A Zero-Net Energy (ZNE) building represents the next evolution in home efficiency, bringing together advanced technologies and building methods to create a house or apartment structure that potentially can produce as much energy as it uses (hence, the term Zero Energy, because the buildings don’t ... More
 

Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Two Steps Forward and One Potential Step Back

Recent developments in the region bode well for future energy efficiency efforts
Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Two Steps Forward and One Potential Step Back
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... More
 

Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest

Number of workers outstrip all other energy sectors
Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest
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. The chart below shows the number of energy efficiency ... More
 

Colorado Legislature Takes Important Step on Transportation Funding

Measure enables investments in transit, local needs, and bike and walking paths
Colorado Legislature Takes Important Step on Transportation Funding
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. The basics of the law, which we expect Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign,... More
 

To Untangle Its Traffic Mess, Colorado Can't Just Build More Lanes

Public transit, local needs, and biking and walking infrastructure crucial
To Untangle Its Traffic Mess, Colorado Can
The last time that Colorado raised the gas tax was in 1991, when a gallon of regular gasoline cost just over a buck. Since then, the gas tax rate has stayed flat at 18 cents per gallon, while the price of gas has more than doubled and inflation has cut the buying power of a dollar in half. The economic squeeze play over the past 25 years has left Colorado without enough money to maintain roads and bridges, invest in public transit, or create walk-able, bike-able communities. Against this... More
 

Weaker Clean Car Rules Threaten Southwest’s Air, Public Health

Consumers wallets will be hit, too
Weaker Clean Car Rules Threaten Southwest’s Air, Public Health
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... More
 

5 Trends and Observations in Energy Codes

Colorado Edition
5 Trends and Observations in Energy Codes
Download a PDF version of this article 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 ... More
 
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