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Energy Efficiency in Maine.
This week, the Maine Climate Council released its new plan to cut statewide carbon emissions 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 (and 80% by 2050). The core principle of Maine’s climate plan is pretty simple: shift away from using high-carbon fuels, like gasoline and heating fuel, to electricity generated by clean renewables like solar, wind, and hydro. This pivot to “beneficial electrification” is a tall order in Maine, a rural state where the winters are long and cold, and we consume a lot of gasoline and heating oil. Implementing beneficial electrification here will entail a major market transformation in the vehicles we drive and the systems we use to heat our homes and businesses. Maine’s ongoing success in promoting heat pump technology is a case study in bringing beneficial electrification to scale.
Sustainable Thanksgiving.
This holiday season, much like the rest of 2020, is probably not what any of us were expecting, and planning for safe and socially distanced Thanksgiving celebrations feels more than little surreal. But in a year like no other, it’s even more important to find ways to say thanks and connect over the tradition of holiday meals – even if you’re enjoying mashed potatoes while looking into a webcam. No matter your plans, you can make your holidays a little easier by trimming down expenses with a resource available to all: energy efficiency. As you plan for and prepare your seasonal cooking in the coming weeks, follow these tips to save money on your energy bills every step of the way.
Energy efficiency jobs.
The 2020 Energy Efficiency Jobs in America Report, released last week by E4TheFuture and E2, is an indispensable resource on the energy efficiency workforce in the United States. The report comes after nearly a year of COVID-19 disruption, and includes a state-by-state breakdown of energy efficiency job losses due to the pandemic, reaffirming numbers found in previous monthly reports. The report breaks the numbers down further by determining approximately how many energy efficiency jobs are in each Congressional district and state legislative district – and proves that energy efficiency is a powerhouse job creator in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike.
Biden transportation plans.
With the latest federal transportation bill on a one-year extension to next fall, one area that will surely get a lot of attention in the new Congress is our transportation system, particularly how we fund it. We know this is a priority for both parties, and President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear that transportation and infrastructure will be top priorities as the country recovers from the pandemic. It’s well-established that transportation infrastructure investments are a boon for jobs and economic development. But infrastructure is built to last decades, so the choices the Biden administration makes on day one will have enormous impacts on our future energy use. So let’s take a look at how Biden’s campaign promises align with the Alliance’s goal of reducing transportation sector energy use 50% by 2050 (50x50).
White House energy efficiency.
While all eyes will soon turn to Georgia’s January runoff elections, which will ultimately determine the legislative ambition of the U.S. Senate, there are plenty of actions President-elect Joe Biden can take under existing authorities to kickstart a clean energy economy through energy efficiency. Because there are multiple benefits of energy efficiency, taking the following steps would benefit countless United States businesses and households through job creation, energy and cost savings, emissions reductions, and simply doing more with less. Here are six things Biden could do from day one.
Sustainable power grid.
Active Efficiency seeks to optimizes energy use with the opportunities presented by digital technologies. We sat down with Bryan Friehauf of Hitachi ABB Power Grids, an Active Efficiency Collaborative Member, to discuss what Active Efficiency technologies and approaches could achieve in the power sector.
Bloomberg New Energy Outlook
With everything that’s happened since COVID-19 hit, it’s hard to believe that energy efficiency’s potential was higher than ever at the beginning of 2020. Yes, there was still a long road ahead for scaling up investments at the rate needed to meet our climate goals, but with employers expecting to add 71,000 new efficiency jobs in 2020, the sector was headed in the right direction. Now, with so much altered in our day-to-day lives due to the virus, how has the outlook for energy efficiency changed?
U.S. High Speed Rail.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is widely known for his love of trains, so it was no surprise to see as part of his infrastructure and clean energy plan that he has called for “the second great railroad revolution” by creating the “cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world.” The development of a high-speed rail network through a Congressional infrastructure package would move people, goods, and services; better connect communities across the country; and create jobs – all while dramatically reducing transportation energy consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. While passenger rail transportation, including urban public transportation, have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that this transportation mode will remain the heart of efficient transportation – especially in urban and medium-distance passenger mobility and freight – for the long term.
Empty city streets.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused severe health and safety issues around the globe. It is also impacting energy efficiency in buildings in both predictable and unpredictable ways. A recent Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator Covid-19 pulse survey of 150 commercial, institutional and industrial facility executives in the U.S. this September identified unique challenges that organizations are facing in the pursuit of operating healthy and efficient buildings. One of the top challenges: although many commercial buildings remain empty, there is still a significant amount of energy usage. While it is no surprise that energy use on residential buildings has increased, it is a surprise that energy use in commercial buildings hasn’t dropped more considering the low occupancy rates.
Europe's Renovation Wave.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election in its final days, and will-they-or-won’t-they negotiations for the next recovery package, the European Union’s publication of its “Renovation Wave Strategy” last week may not have made much of a splash. That’s a shame, because across the pond, the strategy is delivering some of the most important building policy in decades, promising a tidal wave of energy efficiency retrofits. The Renovation Wave seeks to double retrofit rates in the next 10 years – allowing the E.U. to modernize 35 million buildings by 2030 in an effort to meet climate targets, address energy poverty, and create jobs. According to the Commission, 1% of buildings in the European Union currently undergo renovation for energy efficiency upgrades each year. Just doubling that rate to 2% would have an enormous impact on energy savings, while also creating 160,000 new construction jobs and putting the European Union on track to meet both its 2030 and 2050 climate goals.

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