News - Building Equipment

Global Survey: Few Cities Have Robust Clean Energy Policies in Resilience Plans

ACEEE Press Releases - Thu, 2020-01-30 17:05

Cities around the world are preparing for the challenges of the 21st century, including those related to climate change. While most include clean energy initiatives in their resilience plans, few do so extensively, according to ACEEE’s new global survey of 66 cities.

We found that, while many cities are taking some steps to increase energy efficiency and renewable power, only one-fifth include an extensive set of such initiatives in their resilience plans. These initiatives can help cities, which represent about two-thirds of global energy use and emissions, mitigate the unprecedented challenges posed by climate change.

“Cities need to step up and capitalize on clean energy’s multiple benefits by making it part of their resilience planning. Several, notably Honolulu and New York, are leading the way,” says lead author Dan York, an ACEEE local policy program fellow. He notes that energy-efficient buildings can improve grid reliability during extreme weather events and help maintain livable indoor temperatures longer than inefficient buildings during a power outage. Electric vehicles can shield cities from oil supply disruptions, and renewable energy can provide back-up power to critical buildings.

For example, after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, electric vehicles provided essential services to devastated communities, and during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, a solar power system on a San Juan hospital provided electricity.

Which cities do most to include clean energy?

To understand clean energy’s treatment in the global resilience movement, ACEEE rated the extent and quality of clean energy initiatives in 66 community resilience plans obtained from an international program called 100 Resilient Cities. We found that climate change is the primary driver for such initiatives in these plans, most of which include at least one measure to increase energy efficiency and renewable power generation.

Yet only about 20% of cities earned a rating of “exemplary” or “substantial” for energy efficiency or renewable energy initiatives in their plans. More than half received an “adequate” rating for energy efficiency (39 cities) and nearly half for renewable energy (32 cities). The remainder scored “lacking,” meaning they incorporate few initiatives or none at all. Key findings include:

  •  15 cities have plans rated as exemplary or substantial for energy efficiency. Of these, 4 are exemplary — Athens, Buenos Aires, Honolulu, and New York — and  11 are substantial. These cities are located in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania, suggesting efficiency is a readily available global resource.
  • 13 cities have plans rated as exemplary or substantial for renewable energy. Of these, 4 are exemplary — Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and New York — and 9 are substantial. These cities are concentrated in North America and Asia.
  •  39 cities have adequate ratings for energy efficiency, and 32 for renewable energy.

We also found that Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, New York, the Santiago metropolitan area, and Washington, DC, are the only cities to earn at least a substantial rating for both energy efficiency and renewable energy.

We also looked at equity issues to ensure that cities are take into account the needs of the most vulnerable people in their communities in their resilience planning. A few cities — including Chicago, New York, and Athens— aim for energy equity, which calls for reducing energy burdens and improving energy affordability, but about two-thirds of the cities surveyed do not address energy or transportation equity at all.

Which initiatives can cities incorporate?

To bolster energy efficiency, cities can encourage electric vehicles (EVs) and other sustainable modes of transportation. They can establish municipal building and fleet efficiency policies, create microgrids, and require benchmarking, retrofits, fuel switching and/or electrification for buildings.

Honolulu, for example, proposes a benchmarking ordinance for commercial buildings, a residential energy use disclosure requirement, incentives for electric vehicles, and expansion of its EV charging network. 

Buenos Aires proposes to expand bike lanes and bikeshare stations and to reward cyclists for each kilometer traveled. To foster transit-oriented development and transit efficiency, it plans to promote mixed-use development and 16 kilometers of railway tunnels that will strategically link the city’s rail system.

To spur renewable power, cities can aim to generate 100% of their energy from renewable sources and use only this energy for municipal operations. They can increase local wind energy generation, solar-plus-storage systems, and waste-to-energy facilities.

Los Angeles, for example, plans to leverage its municipal utility to replace 70% of existing electricity generation with renewables within 15 years to achieve a long-term goal of 100% renewable energy. It also plans to conduct a solar-plus-storage pilot on municipal buildings, with a goal to expand the project to vulnerable neighborhoods.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy can be critical tools in boosting community resilience by strengthening local energy systems and the communities they serve, delivering more-reliable and -affordable energy, and addressing the increasingly urgent challenge of climate change. Cities can be leaders in meeting these challenges by establishing and implementing robust clean energy initiatives. 

 

 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

2020 Hybrids Surge onto Greenest Car List, Joining the Greenest of EVs

ACEEE Press Releases - Wed, 2020-01-22 16:44

Washington, DC (January 22, 2020): After several years of all-electric cars dominating the annual Greenest vehicles list, 2020 brings a surprise – a resurgence of the hybrid, whether plug-in or gasoline only. With slightly higher scores, hybrids account for nine of the 12 greenest vehicles in the 23rd GreenerCars’ ratings, released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. These high-scoring hybrids include the Toyota Prius Prime, three others by Toyota, four by Hyundai-Kia, and one by Honda.

The auto industry, despite slowing sales, labor disputes, trade wars, and regulatory unrest, is producing more of the most technologically advanced and fuel efficient vehicles ever offered. This is great news for consumers, who continue to have plenty of options to buy a greener, more efficient vehicle.

While electric vehicles (EVs) get a lot of buzz, the top-scoring 2020 car reflects impressive improvements to the internal combustion engine that reduce tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption. Stronger tailpipe emission standards and lower emissions from the production and distribution of gasoline have also helped nudge hybrids to the top of the list.

“Some level of vehicle electrification is the clear path forward for both cars and light trucks, and for the foreseeable future, that will include everything from mild hybrids to all-electric vehicles,” said Eric Junga, senior transportation research analyst at ACEEE. “Gasoline hybrids are hitting seriously impressive fuel economy numbers and are available in nearly every vehicle category. And a hybrid full-size pickup may soon follow.”

The 2020 Greenest List features the most environmentally friendly cars now available. Each car is given a Green Score based on an environmental damage index (EDX), which reflects the cost to human health from air pollution associated with vehicle manufacturing, the production and distribution of fuel or electricity, and vehicle tailpipes.

Scores for many battery or all-electric vehicles (EVs) dropped slightly from last year. For some, this is a result of an update to the GreenerCars scoring model that calculates emissions from manufacturing different types of battery chemistries. Others, including the Hyundai Ionic Electric and Kia Soul Electric, come with substantially larger batteries and a considerable boost in driving range for 2020 that increase emissions from manufacturing and recycling and also slightly increase per-mile energy consumption.

Still, the greenest list has become increasingly competitive over time. We score vehicles on an even playing field that uses average emissions across the country, but the emissions associated with a particular vehicle can depend on many factors. One of the most significant impacts for EVs is the fuel used to generate electricity where the vehicle is charged, both today and in the future. Our analysis uses US government projections, which include slower growth in renewable energy generation than many other forecasts. For those considering whether a particular EV would fare better for their particular area, check out the GreenerCars Electric Vehicle Emissions Calculator.

“This year really marks the beginning of a historic influx of hybrids and alternative fuel powertrains. The days are long past where electrification was limited to smaller vehicles that may not suit everyone’s needs,” Junga said. He noted that hybrid versions of two of 2019’s most popular and practical cars – the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry – are now on the Greenest List. “No matter the type of vehicle, there is now a hybrid option, and we will soon be able to say the same about plug-in options as well.”

This marks the fifth consecutive year that the Greenest List contains no vehicle with solely an internal combustion engine. Even a small degree of electrification can greatly improve fuel economy and power, giving automakers an important tool to maintain the power that consumers expect, while allowing electric motors to help engines operate as efficiently as possible. Today’s results are truly a glimpse into the future of more-efficient and greener vehicles driven primarily by electrification.

GreenerCars.org also identifies practical options in each class among widely available automatic transmission gasoline-powered models. The Greener Choices list includes conventional vehicles and traditional hybrids, but excludes plug-in hybrids and pure battery EVs given the limited availability of charging stations.

Many of these vehicles return to the Greener Choices list from prior years, indicating both their popularity with consumers and the ability of the automaker to design and sell greener vehicles. While a number of models are hybrids, most are standard gasoline-fueled vehicles that achieve better fuel economy today compared to some hybrid options of just 10 years ago.

GreenerCars.org also provides a Meanest List, as usual made up of gasoline-powered large SUVs, pickup trucks, and European luxury cars that are the least friendly to the environment. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk takes the first (or last) position for a second year, with the rest of the list populated by regulars from prior years.

Green Scores of the 1,100-plus model year 2020 vehicles are available for free in the GreenerCars.org interactive database, along with each configuration’s fuel economy, health-related pollution impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions. Visitors can also turn to GreenerCars scores to determine eligibility for parking benefits at participating LEED-certified buildings. GreenerCars.org also features a 2020 market trends report and shopping advice, as well as a consumer primer on vehicles and the environment.

Changes to this year’s methodology include updates to estimates of vehicle lifetime miles travelled for electric vehicles, emissions associated with the production of gasoline and diesel fuels, and refinements to estimates of emissions from the manufacturing and recycling of battery electric vehicles.

 

 

 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

New DOE Rule Undercuts a Top US Policy for Saving Energy

ACEEE Press Releases - Thu, 2020-01-16 20:02

In yet another attack on energy-saving policies, the Trump administration today approved a rule that will make it much more difficult to set new energy efficiency standards for common appliances and equipment — from refrigerators, dishwashers and home furnaces to commercial air conditioners and industrial motors. These standards reduce harmful pollution, save the average US household $500 each year, and according to the administration’s own fact sheet, will save US consumers and businesses about $2 trillion by 2030.

The Department of Energy (DOE) made major changes to its Process Rule that will add new steps to the already lengthy standard-setting process. It will significantly increase the energy savings threshold needed to trigger the process and allow manufacturers to largely design the testing that decides if the products meet standards.

Currently, efficiency standards cover more than  60 categories of appliances and equipment that account for 90% of home energy use and 60% of energy use in commercial buildings. Based on ACEEE’s research, appliance standards are the top US policy for saving energy in buildings.

This rule is the latest in a series of administration attacks on energy efficiency that include a recent rollback of efficiency standards for new light bulbs as well as cars and light trucks.

“These attacks defy the common-sense, bipartisan support that energy efficiency has long enjoyed,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “They will cost consumers and businesses money, create market uncertainty for businesses due to likely legal challenges, add to harmful pollution, and undermine efforts to address the climate crisis.”

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), added:

“The Department of Energy designed its new process rule to make it slower and harder to establish energy-saving efficiency standards.  Since this administration has yet to complete any new standard of its own, this rule appears aimed at preventing future administrations from using this time-tested policy for saving energy.”

DOE has now missed 21 legal deadlines for updating standards.

DeLaski continued: “DOE claims they ‘heard the American people’s concerns,’ yet they ignored the comments of nearly 45,000 citizens who took the time to object to DOE proposed rule and the input of a range of energy efficiency supporters. This rule benefits the regulated manufacturers and hurts everyday consumers and the environment.”

Elements of the new process rule that will make it harder and more difficult to set new standards include:

  • A minimum savings threshold that will make new standards for many products illegal, even if the standards have zero cost.
  • Increased deference to industry developed test procedures, which may emphasize reducing manufacturer costs rather than efficiency ratings that give consumers accurate information.
  • Increased deference to standards established by ASHRAE for commercial products, a professional society in which manufacturers have a strong voice, rather than those developed by DOE.
  • A pre-rulemaking process that can lead to a decision to not conduct a rulemaking
  • Requirement that DOE “cover” products before setting standards. Since “coverage” preempts state standards, this provision sets up a process for DOE to preempt the states without issuing any federal standard for a product.
  • Requirement that DOE re-start the standards rulemaking process whenever the test procedure is amended. This provision could handcuff the agency, forcing a choice between a more accurate test procedure or more delay.
  • Requirement that DOE re-start the standards rulemaking process whenever more products are included within the scope of a regulation, once again forcing a choice between including products that logically should be part of a rule, or more delay.
  • A mandate that makes the process rule legally binding in all instances, which will create endless litigation further tying up future standards.

 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

US House to Boost Energy Efficiency in Bold Climate Plan

ACEEE Press Releases - Wed, 2020-01-08 23:54

Statement of Steve Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

(January 8, 2020) – The new climate proposal by US House members is a bold and necessary plan to address the unprecedented climate challenge. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's leadership announced the CLEAN Future Act, the first broad committee climate bill in 10 years. It aims to create a 100% clean economy by 2050. To achieve this goal, it calls for increased energy efficiency in transportation, buildings, industry, and utilities. Reducing energy waste is the cheapest, fastest way to reduce emissions while also saving consumers money.

Through months of stakeholder outreach, Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., crafted a strong proposal with important efficiency provisions, including: annual updates to emissions standards for cars and trucks, building codes for zero energy ready homes and commercial buildings, a “buy clean” requirement for industrial products purchased with federal funds, stronger appliance standards, home energy retrofits, electric vehicle infrastructure, low-income efficiency programs, a climate bank, and required state climate plans that should use utility efficiency programs to lower emissions.

We will continue to work with the Committee to enhance the use of energy efficiency to further strengthen this promising draft plan.

 

 

 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

Local Governments Vote Resoundingly for Improved Efficiency in National Model Energy Code

ACEEE Press Releases - Mon, 2020-01-06 22:56

January 6th, 2020—Voting results on the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) are in, and the approved proposals will bring an estimated 10% or more efficiency improvement for both residential and commercial buildings that follow the IECC. These changes will lower building energy use for decades to come reducing energy costs and helping to mitigate carbon emissions from buildings. Final energy savings analysis will be released by the U.S. Department of Energy later in 2020.

The vote comes after more than a year of effort by a broad coalition of organizations to update the national model energy code. The preliminary results represent the second biggest efficiency gain for the IECC in the last decade and puts buildings on a glide path to deliver better comfort, higher productivity, increased value and lower operating costs. 

“Homes and buildings account for roughly 40 percent of our energy consumption and carbon emissions, so this is a very big deal,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Clay Nesler. “It will save consumers and businesses money that can be invested elsewhere in the economy while significantly reducing carbon emissions. It is also the most significant step forward in nearly a decade to putting America’s model energy codes on a pathway towards decarbonization.”

The IECC is a model energy code that sets out minimum efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings related to walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, duct leakage, air leakage, etc. It serves as the go-to basis for states and some cities that can control their building codes to develop local requirements. The IECC is updated every three years through an extensive proposal process and online vote of eligible voters, which come from local governments and related agencies.

Local government made their votes count. In November, when voting for the 2021 IECC opened, local leaders exercised their right to vote and chose to dramatically improve building efficiency. Extensive outreach and education by partners including New Building Institute (NBI), the Energy-Efficient Codes Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Institute for Market Transformation, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and others helped raise awareness about the importance of the vote.

“Ultimately, the voting reflects an incredible effort by mayors, cities, governors, sustainability directors, and building officials to cast their votes for a code that helps them achieve their energy efficiency and climate goals,” said William Fay of the

Energy-Efficient Codes Coalition. “Many state and local leaders rely on the IECC as the basis for their own building codes. After two code cycles of stagnant efficiency improvements, these leaders have exercised their power and delivered a stronger code that will help everyday Americans.”

The 2021 IECC also includes two new appendices that provide pathways for states and cities that control their own code to move forward with zero energy performance requirements. The appendices describe energy codes for both residential and commercial buildings that over the course of a year would produce as much energy as they consume. This would be achieved through a mix of aggressive, yet achievable levels of energy efficiency combined with renewable energy like rooftop solar panels.   

“This vote says loud and clear that cities and states, which are voting on the IECC, want advanced energy efficiency,” said NBI CEO Ralph DiNola. “We are encouraged by the progress and especially the adopted zero energy appendices that allow jurisdictions to go even further than what the IECC calls for in residential and commercial projects.” In addition to the zero energy appendices, key areas of improvement include:

Higher Efficiency Through Flexible Points Options for Commercial and Residential.  Proposals to advance the flexibility of both the commercial and residential parts of the energy code were accepted by voters and provide a mechanism that make it easier for jurisdictions that want to further efficiency in codes. Many code requirements are very effective—but only in some climate zones, building types, or building designs. New options for choosing efficiency packages that meet a minimum points requirement provide a solution. By allowing for choices that may be highly effective in some situations but not in others, the code will lead to reduced energy use while providing builders flexibility to choose the path to efficiency that works best for each individual project. 

“This provision will benefit consumers by giving builders the flexibility to choose efficiency improvements for new homes,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Electrification and Electric Vehicles. As electric vehicles (EVs) grow in popularity, codes addressing them are essential. The accepted EV proposals require new buildings to make a certain percentage of its parking spaces ready for EVs by including electrical infrastructure. Electrification of buildings and vehicles–with clean, renewable power supply–is one of the key policy solutions for tackling climate change, and in new buildings electrification readiness can be done at a very small incremental cost. Also accepted were proposals that require electrification readiness when installing fossil fuel appliances and higher efficiency water heating sources, and require lower efficiency water heater types to be installed with renewables.

Residential Water Heating and Water Use. For the first time, the residential code will consider the water heating equipment chosen for a home. While builders may still select any type of water heater, certain equipment must meet more stringent requirements. As building envelopes have gotten tighter in recent years, a greater proportion of energy costs now involves water heating. Though equipment efficiency levels are generally controlled by the federal government, this proposal is structured to improve efficiency while not triggering federal preemption (as states generally can’t set their own standards for equipment which has a federal efficiency), and still provide builders with choices.

Lighting Efficiency. Multiple lighting-related proposals were passed including proposals to increase lighting efficiency in homes, add lighting controls, and install multifamily exterior lighting. In addition, a proposal on horticultural lighting was accepted that closes a loophole in the IECC that exempts lighting for plant growth.

“Building code officials, sustainability departments, and state and local agencies made their voices heard, and the message was clear: a strong energy code is the best way to make sure new buildings use less energy, reduce utility bills for consumers, and emit fewer emissions that contribute to the climate crisis,” said Lauren Urbanek, Senior Energy Policy Advocate at NRDC.

Kimberly Cheslak, Energy Codes Specialist at IMT, added, “Building codes remain a critical tool to raise the performance of all buildings to benefit all residents and occupants. As municipalities and private companies continue to set ambitious targets to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, the 2021 IECC will be an excellent tool to bring those goals to fruition. We look forward to continued work with our partners in code advocacy to deploy the new IECC."

Now that the voting results are in, they must be certified by the International Code Council’s board of directors before they become official. In the meantime, there is a challenge period where any of the approved proposals can be subject to further review. The final 2021 IECC will be released later in 2020 at which time jurisdictions can begin adoption the new standard.

More about the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The IECC is developed and managed by the International Code Council (ICC) and is the primary model energy code that states and cities, which control their own code, refer to when development local standards. ASHRAE 90.1 and 189.1 are other national model energy codes often referenced. Because buildings account for about 40% of the energy consumed in the United States, energy codes represent a critical lever for cities and state looking to curb energy use and resulting carbon emissions from the built environment. The IECC sets out minimum efficiency standards for new construction for a structure’s walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, duct leakage, air leakage, etc. Every three years, officials from municipalities and states across the nation vote on proposed changes to the IECC to incorporate new building technologies and practices as they evolve over time, and ensure that new American homes and commercial buildings meet modern-day minimum levels of safety, fire protection, and efficiency.

To see the voting results, visit: https://www.iccsafe.org/wp-content/uploads/PRELIMINARY-2019-GROUP-B-OGCV-RESULTS.pdf

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

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