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Posts in Category: Buildings

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
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

Why You Want Your Town to be Like Henderson, NV

Desert city saves residents millions on energy bills, earns SWEEP’s 2018 Energy Codes Count Award
Why You Want Your Town to be Like Henderson, NV
Energy codes matter: In 2016, the residential and commercial sectors devoured about 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption (or roughly 39 quadrillion British thermal units), the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a May 2017 report. That voracious appetite can be reduced, though, if homes and commercial buildings include the latest efficiency technologies, such as “smart” thermostats, high-quality insulation, and advanced heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Whether... More
 

Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets

Goal: Nearly 1 million EVs registered in the state by 2030
Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets
The state of Colorado has just released a bold new electric vehicle plan that builds on the state’s work to date and shows the way to an electrified future. The plan (developed by the Colorado Energy Office, the Regional Air Quality Council, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Department of Transportation), was spurred by Governor Hickenlooper’s Executive Order from July of 2017, “Supporting Colorado’s Clean Energy Transition.” The plan lays out... More
 

Getting Into the Weeds:

Helping cannabis growers save energy
Getting Into the Weeds:
Indoor cannabis grow operations can be very energy intensive, using about ten times the amount of energy per square foot as a typical office building. In states where either medical or recreational cannabis is legal, utilities can achieve big energy savings by proactively engaging with these customers. SWEEP just released a new report on this topic, “A Budding Opportunity: Energy efficiency best practices for cannabis grow operations.” Three leading utilities in the Northwest are reaping... More
 

Students' Solar Decathlon vs. Real Market Homes:

How concept houses at college competition compare with what residential builders offer today
Students
The buzz at the 2017 Solar Decathlon proved infectious, thanks to the human energy and excitement of the college students worldwide who participated in the October event in Denver. And as a professional in energy-efficient buildings, I was impressed by what the young people demonstrated: new concepts, some pretty amazing technology, well-designed and cool-looking houses, and their willingness to "stretch the envelope" (pun intended). The competition also gave me an opportunity to reflect on... More
 

Reno Brightens Its Future with Energy-Efficient Buildings Push

City tackles DOE's Better Buildings Challenge
 Reno Brightens Its Future with Energy-Efficient Buildings Push
Reno embraced Nevada’s newly re-invigorated push toward cleaner energy when the city launched REENERGIZE RENO, its ambitious program to improve the efficiency of municipal, commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings by 20 percent by 2025. The move shows how local governments, coupled with forward-looking state policies, can reduce pollution, conserve water, curb climate change, and create jobs even as they help consumers and businesses save money. REENERGIZE RENO is part of the U.S.... More
 

New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest

SWEEP documents how utility programs help consumers, businesses and the environment
New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest
SWEEP’s updated and just-published fact sheets show the benefits to consumers and the environment from energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. SWEEP’s full paper, reviewing the history and effects of these programs, can be read here. Some of the information deserves emphasis and is summarized in this blog. The fact sheets and paper demonstrate that electric utilities in the region have generated enormous... More
 

Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles

State is accepting comments through October 13
Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) has released a draft plan on how the state will allocate approximately $70 million in funding that the state will receive as part of the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. The settlement funds are designed to reduce air pollution from vehicles, in order to mitigate the effects of the non-compliant, diesel-fueled Volkswagens. During a 2016 public comment period, the public overwhelmingly told the department... More
 

Home Builders in SWEEP States Win Prestigious National Innovation Awards

Southwest builders honored in 4 of 5 categories
Home Builders in SWEEP States Win Prestigious National Innovation Awards
Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognizes the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program builders with the department’s Innovation in Housing Awards. Only the top 1 percent of builders in the nation receive these prestigious awards. But this year, builders from SWEEP states won the Innovation in Housing awards in four of the five categories: Affordable Home, Multi-Family Home, Production Home and Custom Home (Buyers). The Custom (Spec) category was the only housing category without a ... More
 

Don't Gut Federal Energy Efficiency Programs

Don
Federal energy efficiency programs within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are threatened with devastating budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration. Should citizens, businesses, and elected officials in the Southwest care? Absolutely! According to a 2017 DOE report, Southwestern states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, and WY) are home to 123,000 energy efficiency jobs -- more jobs, in fact, than any other segment of the energy industry including oil... More
 

A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars

SWEEP report offers specific steps that the city can take
A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on July 11, 2017, in which he pledged that Colorado would meet the Paris climate targets, and set goals for reducing emissions through more renewable energy, ramping up utility energy efficiency programs, making buildings greener, and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). In order to meet these emissions targets, the state will need to ramp up electric vehicle adoption, and do it fast. While the EV market in... More
 

Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest?

Hint: It’s not fossil fuels production
Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest?
The Powder River Basin in Wyoming is the largest coal-producing region in the U.S. There are tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells as well as over 1,900 wind turbines operating on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Eastern New Mexico is a major oil and gas producing region, and large-scale solar power plants are sprouting up across the desert Southwest. But which segment of energy industry supports the most jobs in the energy-rich Southwest? Answer: It’s the energy efficiency industry, ... More
 

Southwest Has More “Zero Energy” Homes and Homebuilders Than Anywhere Else in the Country

Reasons for progress could Serve as national model
Southwest Has More “Zero Energy” Homes and Homebuilders Than Anywhere Else in the Country
This Zero-Energy home in Durango, Colorado, keeps residents warm even in winter at an elevation of over 6,500 feet. More than 60 percent of the most energy-efficient homes built today in the country have been constructed in the Southwest. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of the homebuilders who make these highly efficient houses also are based in this region. The reasons for this success could serve as a model for other parts of the nation seeking to improve the efficiency and quality of... More
 
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