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Innovation in energy and climate policy for buildings

Progress in colorado
Innovation in energy and climate policy for buildings
The Colorado legislature adopted a wide range of new policies to advance clean energy and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its recently concluded 2021 session. In addition to approving new policies to lower GHG emissions in the utility, transportation and oil and gas sectors, the legislature approved several innovative policies that will increase energy efficiency and decarbonize energy use in Colorado’s buildings. Here’s a summary of these new policies. SB21-246 advances... More
 

A breakdown of Colorado’s giant transportation funding bill

Senate Bill 260 is a big win for electric vehicles, a mixed bag for climate
A breakdown of Colorado’s giant transportation funding bill
This week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 260 (SB260) into law, marking the passage of the most comprehensive transportation funding package in decades. The legislation will raise $5.4 billion over the next 10 years through a combination of general fund transfers and new fees on gasoline, diesel, electric vehicles (EVs), residential deliveries, and rideshare trips to repair and expand our decaying transportation system and clean up its air pollution. While not perfect, the ... 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
 

Failure to pass HB206 leaves New Mexican families in the dust

Failure to pass HB206 leaves New Mexican families in the dust
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is disappointed in the 2021 New Mexico State Legislature’s failure to pass House Bill 206 (HB206), the Utility Affordability and Relief Act. Despite receiving full support of many lawmakers, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) Chair, low-income advocates, social justice organizations, and environmental groups, the Senate Finance Committee refused to hold a hearing on the bill. After passing two committees in the House, the House... 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
 

ICC’s Energy Code — or should I say "Standard" — is moving to zero

ICC’s Energy Code — or should I say "Standard" — is moving to zero
After months of meetings, emails, articles, and hours of testimony and concerns voiced about the validity of a new concept, the International Code Council (ICC) Board has decided to move the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) from the ICC code development process to the ICC standards development process. The concern with moving to the standards development process was the potential for the IECC to roll back progress made on efficiency, which would undermine states’ and municipal... More
 

Colorado’s Local Governments Leading the Way on Electric Transportation with GoEV City Commitments

Colorado’s Local Governments Leading the Way on Electric Transportation with GoEV City Commitments
Local governments around Colorado are making the GoEV City commitment — a pledge to electrify 100% of the cars, trucks, and buses in their communities over the next few decades. By joining the GoEV Campaign, six communities — Fort Collins, Boulder County, Denver, City of Boulder, Summit County, and City of Golden — are giving their residents an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, breathe cleaner air, save money, and lead the way toward greater electric vehicle (EV) adoption... More
 

Top 10 Energy Efficiency Stories from the Southwest in 2020

Top 10 Energy Efficiency Stories from the Southwest in 2020
Significant progress was made on the energy efficiency and clean transportation fronts in the Southwest this past year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and all its adverse impacts. Here is my list of the Top 10 energy efficiency stories from the region in 2020. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) team played a key role in securing these advances. 1) Lower income households receive increased energy efficiency support The number of families struggling to pay energy bills surged due... More
 

The Biden Clean Energy and Climate Plan: Partnering with States, Local Governments, and Utilities

The Biden Clean Energy and Climate Plan: Partnering with States, Local Governments, and Utilities
President-elect Biden has promised to address the climate crisis as one of his top priorities, and to do so in a way that creates millions of well-paying jobs while advancing environmental justice. The President-elect’s Clean Energy Plan includes some noteworthy national goals including achieving carbon-free power generation and cutting the carbon footprint of our building stock 50 percent by 2035, and constructing 500,000 public charging stations to accelerate the transition to electric... More
 

Arizona regulators poised to expand efficiency targets in clean energy rules

Arizona regulators poised to expand efficiency targets in clean energy rules
In a decisive 4-1 vote this month, the bipartisan members of the Arizona Corporation Commission heralded a new era for energy efficiency in Arizona, setting new targets utilities must achieve through demand side management programs to help customers save energy and money on their utility bills. The regulators included the policy as part of a broader clean energy rulemaking package that is set for final consideration on Thursday. The package could shape the state’s energy system for years to... More
 

Energy Efficiency Day 2020

SWEEP playing a leading role in achieving success in our states
Energy Efficiency Day 2020
October 7, 2020 is being commemorated as national Energy Efficiency Day, the fifth annual celebration of the importance of energy efficiency to our nation’s economy and environment. The reasons to celebrate Energy Efficiency Day are simple, clear, and powerful. Through energy efficiency we “Save Money. Cut Pollution. Create Jobs.” Opportunities for greater energy efficiency abound in our homes and workplaces, whether through purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances, using LED lighting, installing... More
 

Energy Efficiency and Equity

Energy Efficiency and Equity
Access to energy for heating, hot water, transportation, and other uses is a necessity of modern life. Nationally, low-income households, on average, devote 7.3% of their income to electricity, natural gas, and other fuels used at home, with some households paying far more. This represents a large percentage of income, a situation known as “energy burden.” In addition, throughout the west, transportation is the second largest expense for low-income households, behind only housing. The number ... More
 

The COVID-19 Crisis, Energy Use, Public Health, and Recovery Efforts

The COVID-19 Crisis, Energy Use, Public Health, and Recovery Efforts
The COVID-19 pandemic is having dramatic impacts on all aspects of our lives. This includes energy use as a result of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the virus. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that countries in full lockdown are experiencing an average 25 percent decline in energy demand while countries in partial lockdown are seeing an 18 percent decline on average. Electricity demand has been depressed by 20 percent or more... More
 

How Building Departments are Pivoting with the COVID-19 Crisis

While still supporting building code enforcement
How Building Departments are Pivoting with the COVID-19 Crisis
The Crisis Unfolds What a difference a few months can make for the construction industry. Just this last January the construction industry was operating at full speed, new residential and commercial buildings were popping up, sales of these new properties were strong, and the employment rate was at historic lows. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, building departments and construction industry confront work-from-home challenges, social distancing and how many people can be in a building or... More
 

Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan Paves the Way toward 100 Percent Clean Vehicles

Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan Paves the Way toward 100 Percent Clean Vehicles
On April 23, the Colorado Energy Office unveiled the new and improved Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan, a guiding document that sets forth the State’s ambitious EV targets and outlines the programs, policies, and strategies required to transition the transportation sector to clean, zero-emission vehicles. Transportation is a leading source of climate-changing pollution in Colorado and vehicles are also a major source of soot and smog pollution that harm public health (and increase the risks... 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
 

Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum Extols Virtues of Zero Emission Vehicles

Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum Extols Virtues of Zero Emission Vehicles
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) joined Plug-In America and Clark County to present the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum on Thursday, March 12, 2020. More than 100 key stakeholders gathered to learn about the benefits of transportation electrification and explore public and private sector efforts to accelerate the transition to electric transportation in the Silver State. “Driving on electricity makes sense,” said Tom Polikalas, SWEEP’s Nevada Representative.... More
 

New Mexico Legislative Session Ends with a Thud

Despite Governor's Support EV Bills Fall Short
New Mexico Legislative Session Ends with a Thud
SWEEP is disappointed in the 2020 NM State Legislature’s failure to pass two vital pieces of energy efficiency and clean transportation legislation. Despite full support of the Governor, many lawmakers and low-income advocates, the legislature did not pass either SB114, the Community Energy Efficiency Development (CEED) block grant or SB2/HB217 the Electric Vehicle Income Tax Credit. Despite the ultimate failure of these bills, we would like to thank our very strong and supportive sponsors.... More
 

Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream with Super Bowls Ads

Four big automakers spend millions to showcase their new models
Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream with Super Bowls Ads
Super Bowl commercials are famous for creating awareness and buzz about the latest consumer products and services. In fact, the intrigue involving the commercials has become nearly as important as the game itself. So it's significant that four major automakers spent big bucks to signal to consumers that a variety of electric vehicles have arrived in the U.S. marketplace. Audi, Ford, GM, and Porsche spent an average of $5.6 million per 30-second ad to showcase their new models to the 197... More
 

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

New Xcel Energy Rate Could Speed RTD
Note: A previous edition of this blog used inaccurate data from other sources to calculate the projected fuel cost savings under the new Xcel Commercial EV rate. It has been updated. 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... 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
 

Energy Efficiency Wins Improvements to the Model Energy Code

Energy Efficiency Wins Improvements to the Model Energy Code
After a 12-month process the newest building energy code, the 2021 IECC, was recently approved by code officials through the online voting phase — by and large, they voted to increase efficiency gains not seen since the 2009 and 2012 energy code. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the model building code for anyone involved in construction of energy efficient, affordable, and healthy homes and commercial buildings. The code is updated every three years through a stakeholder ... More
 

Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Big Benefits for Consumers and the Environment

Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Big Benefits for Consumers and the Environment
Consumers in the southwest will realize about $7.6 billion in net economic benefits as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented by the largest electric utilities in the region over the past decade, according to new information compiled by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). As a result of energy efficiency programs implemented over the past decade, these utilities were able to cut their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by nearly 12 million metric tons in 2018. Updated... 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
 
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