Helping Cannabis Growers Save Energy
Fri, 12/29/2017 - 11:17 AM
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 ...
How concept houses at college competition compare with what residential builders offer today
Fri, 10/27/2017 - 02:15 PM
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 ...
City tackles DOE's Better Buildings Challenge
Mon, 10/23/2017 - 07:00 AM
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. ...
SWEEP documents how utility programs help consumers, businesses and the environment
Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:06 PM
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 ...
State is accepting comments through October 13
Wed, 09/13/2017 - 06:30 AM
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 ...
Southwest builders honored in 4 of 5 categories
Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:45 PM
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 ...
Mon, 08/28/2017 - 07:15 AM
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 ...
SWEEP report offers specific steps that the city can take
Fri, 08/25/2017 - 07:21 AM
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 ...
Colorado's sources for electricity cleaner than in other states
Wed, 08/23/2017 - 12:05 PM
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 create safe, resilient, and habitable structures
Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:51 PM
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 ...
Hint: It’s Not Fossil Fuels Production
Wed, 07/19/2017 - 01:56 PM
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, ...
Use market forces to help highway travelers for the long-term
Fri, 07/14/2017 - 02:01 PM
Anyone who travels on highways in the Front Range knows that congestion is a major problem in the Denver metro area and, based on expected population growth over the next 30 years, it’s only going to get worse.
The traditional solution, expanding the highway network to relieve congestion and accommodate additional demand, is both unaffordable and ineffective. The Colorado Department of Transportation has said it needs an additional $1 billion per year to maintain and expand the existing ...
Reasons for Progress Could Serve as National Model
Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:44 PM
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 ...
Leading companies trim emissions
Wed, 06/14/2017 - 02:49 PM
In the wake of the president’s unfortunate and misguided decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has assembled an alliance of 12 states, over 150 cities and counties, and over 1,200 businesses and investors, with the goal of achieving the U.S. Paris goals despite the president’s withdrawal. Some experts estimate that this alliance could achieve as much as 60 to 70 percent of the U.S. Paris goal.
The industrial sector ...
States, cities can embrace EVs, add public transit
Mon, 06/12/2017 - 01:23 PM
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 ...
Voters Will Have to Approve Proposal
Tue, 03/21/2017 - 11:58 AM
The last time that Colorado raised the gas tax was in 1991. Since then, the rate has stayed at 18 cents per gallon, regardless of how much the price of gas has increased. Over that 25 years inflation has cut buying power by more than half. Not surprisingly, Colorado does not have enough money to maintain roads and bridges or to invest in public transit or walkable, bikeable communities.
Coloradans have been talking about this for years, but this year the legislature is on the verge of acting ...
But some state lawmakers want to cut useful program
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:30 AM
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 ...
Cities and Counties Adopt EV Ready Codes
Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:55 PM
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 ...
Colorado invests one-twenthieth of national average
Wed, 02/01/2017 - 11:48 AM
Lawmakers in Colorado are debating how to adequately fund transportation in Colorado. Much of the discussion has focused on revenue to maintain and expand highways. However, it is important to understand the broader picture of how Colorado funds all types of transportation infrastructure. In this blog, we examine how Colorado funding for public transportation compares to other states.
The state has historically invested very little state money into transit. The major source of state funding ...
Fri, 01/20/2017 - 01:59 PM
With the newest version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) on its way, we want to make sure all jurisdictions in the Southwest reap the benefits of the most recent energy codes and aren’t left in the dust with poorer-quality and leaky buildings built according to prior codes. We recommend moving to the 2015 IECC and improving efficiency beyond this baseline in the future.
Staying on an earlier energy code is like keeping your computer on, say, Windows XP or Windows ...
Energy Efficiency Is a Solid Foundation for GHG Reductions by Large Companies
Fri, 01/20/2017 - 01:46 PM
Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies now have targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, buy renewable energy, and/or increase energy efficiency. The companies want to be socially responsible and enhance their green business image, but pursuing clean energy goals also benefits their bottom lines, especially when their efforts emphasize energy efficiency. These enterprises will continue to play an important role in the next four years towards helping the U.S. achieve its Paris climate ...
States, local governments must pick up the slack
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 02:04 PM
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 ...
Rising prices drain road funds 1,000 times more than electric cars
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 01:10 PM
As in many states across the country, in Colorado and Nevada the demand for funding to maintain and improve roadways outstrips revenue dedicated for this purpose.
At a legislative hearing in December 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said it needed $1 billion per year in additional funding for the maintenance and expansion of the state’s roadways. In Nevada, the state highway fund already runs significant deficits, which are expected to increase to nearly $300 ...
$1.2 Million Saved: Value of Energy-Efficient Buildings to 50,000-Person Town
Tue, 12/20/2016 - 01:34 PM
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? ...
In the Southwest, potential $29 million for EV charging stations, $164 million for electric buses
Fri, 10/14/2016 - 04:24 PM
When Volkswagen was caught systematically cheating on emissions tests, making their diesel vehicles look much cleaner than they actually are, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit for violations of the Clean Air Act. The company and the DOJ have reached a partial settlement, which is expected to be approved by a federal judge in October. The settlement includes approximately $10 billion in compensation to owners of noncompliant VWs, but also includes $4.7 billion that could help to ...