Blog to Save Energy

For the past several months, controversy has been brewing over the proper measurement of the costs and benefits of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) low-income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This has been reflected in academic studies and a major national evaluation of WAP’s effectiveness. And on Tuesday, an article by Eduardo Porter was published by The New York Times that raised more eyebrows in the energy efficiency advocacy community. The article described a critique by University of Chicago professor Michael Greenstone of an Oak Ridge National Lab report, concluding that the benefits of DOE’s weatherization program outweighed the costs. Yesterday, Earthwire’s Brian Palmer responded with some important perspective on professor Greenstone’s comments in a post published by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s online magazine. And while we certainly agree the methodology to measure the energy benefits of the weatherization program is important, even more so is the accounting of the full benefits of the weatherization program on our country’s most energy-burdened households.
Climate Week 2015, held in New York City between September 21-28, marked a waypoint in a critical year for sustainable development and energy efficiency. Amid noteworthy events at the United Nations, including an address to the UN General Assembly by Pope Francis and the UN’s adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, energy productivity took a front seat, with the September 21 presentation by ClimateWorks Australia of a new index designed to measure corporate energy productivity. The Alliance’s own senior vice president for policy, Kelly Speakes-Backman, also took the stage to promote high-efficiency lighting.
Swing by the Alliance offices this week, and you will clearly notice the hustle and bustle of ideas being brainstormed, proposals being completed and programs launching. After what has proven to be a very successful development season, we are excited to announce new partnerships and funders that have enabled us to expand our energy efficiency education presence in Northern California and on the East Coast.
An amendment that would roll back the current building energy code development and adoption processes threatens the bipartisan progress made by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.); undervalues energy efficiency investments made by homeowners and businesses; and arbitrarily limits the decision making processes of individuals. Simple payback in building energy codes is just bad policy.
Residential “EE” receives relatively little attention compared to major projects like the retrofit of the Empire State Building in New York City. While it seems like a small thing to make one home energy-efficient, the aggregated potential for energy savings in homes is enormous. In fact, household energy use represents almost 25 percent of total energy consumption in the United States, according to the American Council on Energy Efficiency. Single family homes account for about 80 percent of residential energy consumption, 15 percent is used in multi-family homes, and five percent in mobile homes. If we could fully deploy conventional energy efficiency in the residential sector, according to McKinsey and Company, we could achieve a 28 percent cut in annual energy consumption in the residential sector, thereby saving consumers $2.2 billion on their energy bills. That is a win all around, for American households as well as for job creation and the environmental impact of reducing carbon emissions and other pollution. So what are the barriers that prevent this from happening?
A working paper released in June by academics with the E2e Project wrongly suggested that the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and other energy efficiency programs are not good investments. This result contradicts many past studies and was so surprising that the media was set abuzz.
The San Francisco region is a proven leader in energy productivity and energy efficiency policy.
The Alliance’s Energy 2030 On the Road campaign has just made its next stop in the “city by the bay”, bringing efforts to double energy productivity by 2030 to the community of San Francisco. The half-day event, sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), was organized to foster dialogue between leaders from state and local government, utilities, business, academia and nonprofit organizations regarding ways these stakeholders can help drive energy productivity through modernization and investment, consumer education and work in the public sector.
Boosting global energy productivity can boost GDP and help address climate change.
We can all agree that setting targets is a means to catalyzing action, but there are many metrics and targets to choose from. We believe that countries and their economies can be best-served by setting targets for improving energy productivity. By focusing on increasing GDP produced per unit of energy consumed through the deployment of energy efficiency technologies, countries and businesses alike can contribute to climate goals while enjoying significant economic benefits.
For the past two years, the Alliance has received a grant from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to implement the PowerSave Schools program at fifteen of Los Angeles Unified School District’s most energy intensive middle and high schools. The program teaches integrated demand side management concepts, including energy efficiency, demand response and distributed generation to empower students to promote energy conservation. During the two years of the program, Alliance staff have worked closely with students and faculty team leads to create connections between the environmental/financial costs of energy waste and easy, convenient ways to save. The successful program reinforces the idea that students can significantly influence the energy efficiency of schools by creating a culture in which energy conservation is “the new normal”.
Green bonds are becoming increasingly popular as investors focus on energy efficiency and the environment.
As the market for green bonds becomes increasingly attractive for investors, conversations are stirring about what it truly means for a bond to be “green”.