Setting ambitious energy efficiency targets for 2030, a goal that the Alliance shares and strongly pursues, is becoming increasingly popular among leaders. In the latest example, on October 7, Governor Jerry Brown (D) enacted landmark legislation ramping up California’s clean energy goals via energy efficiency and renewable energy penetration. The California Assembly voted 52-26 on September 11, the last day of the legislative session, to approve S.B. 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, which requires the state to increase its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 22 percent to 50 percent and double energy efficiency in buildings by 2030. Both of these provisions will help drive a cleaner, safer, cheaper and more efficient electric grid, and sets a bold precedent for other states around the country to follow suit.
Connected homes – homes that contain interconnected devices that connect to the internet – present an exciting market opportunity and a way for consumers to save money. While there are challenges, such as finding scalable solutions, addressing data security and communicating the value to consumers, leaders in the industry are viewing connected homes as a promising new frontier. And with 75 percent of the electricity in the United States used by buildings, the Alliance to Save Energy sees an opportunity to advance residential energy productivity through connected homes. Subject experts speaking at the Alliance’s November 4th Connected Homes Congressional Briefing provided insight into some of the market’s opportunities and challenges. Read below for a summary of the briefing discussion and observations from the briefing’s panelists.
When thinking about opportunities for increased energy efficiency, the small business sector deserves much more attention that it often receives. Small businesses make huge contributions to our economy according to any measure. We all know small business owners, and probably patronize several each week. In every corner of our country, small businesses are—figuratively and literally—the engines of growth. Furthermore, small businesses have much to gain in terms of savings and an ability to manage energy costs through investments in cost-effective energy efficiency.
Special events will be underway in a number of states this Friday, October 30th to mark 2015’s Weatherization Day in recognition of the benefits of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). In New Hampshire, Governor Margaret Hassan will gather with community and energy efficiency leaders at the state house to hear first-hand from WAP clients about the impact the program has had on their lives.
A little more than one year before the 2016 election, presidential candidates are beginning to articulate their energy policy platforms—and the recent debates, discussions and policy proposals have given us an early opportunity to evaluate where the various candidates stand on the importance of energy efficiency in our modern energy economy. Several candidates have already shown support for energy efficiency and the Alliance stands ready to amplify the message of efficiency’s value on the national stage over the coming months.
Thanks to the generosity of the U.S. Department of State, the hospitality of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore, I had the great privilege to travel to Singapore in September as part of a small group of energy efficiency advocates and practitioners to share experiences with delegations from across Southeast Asia. It was a fantastic professional and cultural experience.
On October 8th, the International Energy Agency released the Energy Efficiency Market Report 2015 – a detailed analysis of improvements in global energy efficiency since the 1980s. According to the IEA, political and financial investments in energy efficiency have helped avoid $5.7 trillion in spending on energy sources while improving energy security and energy productivity, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The results of the analysis reinforce the work being done by partners in the Global Alliance for Energy Productivity, a network of leaders working to double global energy productivity by 2030.
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.