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Posts in Category: State & Local Government

Colorado Legislature Takes Important Step on Transportation Funding

Measure enables investments in transit, local needs, and bike and walking paths

The Centennial State took an important step toward untangling the traffic jams and air pollution worries that have arisen, in recent years, as jobs and populations have grown. Notably, Colorado’s leaders did so through bipartisan compromise and months of negotiation, as the state House and Senate on May 8 passed a key transportation measure called Senate Bill 1—the first major transportation funding bill since 2009. But state lawmakers also demonstrated a new-found understanding that Colorado can’t just build new highway lanes if it wants to solve its transportation challenges. The state clearly needs to get serious about expanding public transit, encouraging options such as ride-sharing, and making communities more appealing to bicyclists and pedestrians.

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To Untangle Its Traffic Mess, Colorado Can't Just Build More Lanes

Public transit, local needs, and biking and walking infrastructure crucial

The last time that Colorado raised the gas tax was in 1991, when a gallon of regular gasoline cost just over a buck. Since then, the gas tax rate has stayed flat at 18 cents per gallon, while the price of gas has more than doubled and inflation has cut the buying power of a dollar in half. The economic squeeze play over the past 25 years has left Colorado without enough money to maintain roads and bridges, invest in public transit, or create walk-able, bike-able communities.

Against this backdrop of inflation and stagnant taxes, the Colorado legislature now is debating how to fund transportation infrastructure and programs.

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Weaker Clean Car Rules Threaten Southwest’s Air, Public Health

Consumers wallets will be hit, too

The national clean car standards, which limit tailpipe emissions from cars, represent one of the biggest steps the federal government ever has taken to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration adopted the clean air rules in 2012, when automakers agreed to a set of standards requiring them to gradually reduce pollution and improve fuel economy. Under this plan, by 2025 the average car would have about double the fuel economy and emit only about half the carbon pollution of cars on the road today. 

But now, the Trump administration proposes to undo these clean car standards and, in doing so, would jeopardize public health, the U.S. economy, and the environment.
 

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5 Trends and Observations in Energy Codes

Colorado Edition

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 Colorado’s experience can be highly informative to builders and policymakers outside of the Centennial State. 

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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

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. This year, we’re presenting the Energy Codes Count award to Henderson, NV. In 2014, Henderson adopted the 2012 IECC, which at the time was the newest version of the code. In the four years since adopting the new IECC, Henderson has saved its residents and businesses about $2.3 million on utility bills and reduced the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 30,254 metric tons, according to SWEEP’s analysis.

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Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets

Goal: Nearly 1 million EVs registered in the state by 2030

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. Perhaps the most important goal in the plan is to go from about 13,000 EVs in Colorado at the end of 2017 to 940,000 by 2030.

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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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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. ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

Clearing the Air With Electric Cars

Colorado's sources for electricity cleaner than in other states
Clearing the Air With Electric Cars
Two of Colorado’s most important political leaders recently adopted plans that encourage greater adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), both as a strategy to help curb climate change and to improve the air that Denverites breath. Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on climate that includes the development of a statewide EV plan, while Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a Mobility Action Plan, which calls for multiple steps to encourage EV adoption. Now, a new report ...
 

Energy Codes Are Life and Safety Codes

Energy codes create safe, resilient, and habitable structures
Energy Codes Are Life and Safety Codes
Building codes ensure and protect the safety of the houses and buildings where we live and work. The International Energy Conservation Code, or IECC, is one of a suite of model national building codes adopted by state and local jurisdictions to ensure a bare minimum of durability, quality, health, and safety. Once in a while, we hear building officials mistakenly say they don’t adopt or inspect for the energy code, “because it is not a life-safety code.” This comment, however, stems from a ...
 

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, ...
 

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 ...
 

Time for states to step up on clean transportation

States, cities can embrace EVs, add public transit
Time for states to step up on clean transportation
When President Donald Trump recently walked away from the Paris Climate Agreement, his decision spurred many states, cities and businesses nationwide to step up their own push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what the federal government does or doesn’t do. One key area for action is transforming America’s transportation systems. Cars and trucks are now the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Emissions from electricity generation are declining due to the ...
 

With electric car tax credits, all of Colorado benefits from cleaner air

But some state lawmakers want to cut useful program
With electric car tax credits, all of Colorado benefits from cleaner air
Colorado lawmakers are debating a proposal to eliminate tax credits that encourage consumers to buy cleaner, energy-efficient electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuel vehicles. Opponents of the program, notably the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity, are feeding legislators incorrect information about how much most consumers can benefit from the program. Despite the opponents’ claims, EVs are not toys for the rich. More than three-quarters of EVs sold in Colorado have ...
 

How Can the Southwest’s Communities Make Installing EV Charging Easier and Cheaper?

Cities and Counties Adopt EV Ready Codes
How Can the Southwest’s Communities Make Installing EV Charging Easier and Cheaper?
The best time to plan for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is before most consumers even know that they will want one. Communities that require builders to install EV charging capabilities in new apartments, single-family homes and commercial offices will make the transition away from gasoline-powered cars easier for their residents. Moreover, these 21st Century building codes will encourage consumers to consider purchasing EVs and help the communities take an important step toward a ...
 

Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency

States, local governments must pick up the slack
Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency
On the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration as 45th President, he has nominated Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. If the adage "personnel is policy" holds true, energy efficiency and clean energy will face a tough four years with respect to federal policy. While it's too early to know what specific actions the Trump Administration will take, it's reasonable to assume that the Clean Power Plan will fall by the wayside; use ...
 

Energy Codes Count award recognizes results

$1.2 Million Saved: Value of Energy-Efficient Buildings to 50,000-Person Town
Energy Codes Count award recognizes results
What's the benefit to a local community of incorporating the newest energy efficiency measures into the building code? For one Colorado town, it’s already worth $1.2 million. The lessons from Parker (located southeast of Denver) underscore how local leaders can help their residents, businesses, homebuilders and commercial real estate developers recognize that spending a little money upfront can lead to big savings in the long run. Can your town, city or county show similar, positive results? ...
 

Elevate Energy Efficiency on Oct. 5, 2016

It's the first national Energy Efficiency Day: Get on board via social media.
Elevate Energy Efficiency on Oct. 5, 2016
On October 5, 2016, a network of organizations and partners across the country will join together to promote the benefits of energy efficiency for the first-ever, nationwide Energy Efficiency Day. You are invited to participate. Campaign Goals: Boost the visibility of energy efficiency and talk about its benefits Showcase people who are doing concrete, effective things to save energy and money It's all happening this first year on social media, and we've made it easy for ...
 

Automated Energy Benchmarking: A New Solution for Businesses in Utah

SLC and Partners Got National Recognition for the New Program
Automated Energy Benchmarking: A New Solution for Businesses in Utah
Salt Lake City is one of 19 cities that participated in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Data Accelerator initiative, which tasked local governments to collaborate with their utilities to provide businesses with a whole-building, automated energy benchmarking program. The goal was to find a way to connect businesses’ utility accounts with building energy databases such as the nation’s most popular (and free) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®. Salt Lake City and its partners were ...
 
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