By Laura Sanchez, EDF Climate Corps 2016 Fellow
Like many booming cities, Texas’ capital is experiencing overwhelming demand for affordable housing. Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler highlighted the affordable housing crisis shortly after taking office in January 2015, and urged the use of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to help encourage affordability. PACE enables commercial, industrial, and multifamily property owners to improve the water or energy efficiency of their buildings – without having to worry about steep upfront costs. Investing in these types of upgrades can reduce a property’s operating costs, as well as tenants’ utility bills.
That’s why I spent this past summer with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), as an EDF Climate Corps Fellow with Texas PACE Authority, the PACE program administrator in the state. In June 2016, Mayor Adler created a committee of housing experts to determine how to leverage PACE for affordable housing. Alongside the committee, I worked to size up the opportunity, benefits, and challenges of using PACE to help pay for upgrades to affordable multifamily-housing properties.
After conversations with officials and program administrators from over 30 public for-profit and non-profit entities, we found there are significant opportunities – in Texas and nationwide – for the affordable multifamily-housing sector to leverage PACE. We are proud to present a new whitepaper that can serve as a guide to unlocking water, energy, and cost savings. Read More
The New York City Council has an excellent environmental track record, and I’m pleased to say that most recently it has passed a group of bills tackling energy efficiency in buildings, adding to its stellar standing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio this week signed a package of laws developed by the City Council that address energy efficiency in thousands of buildings citywide. Buildings account for nearly three-quarters of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, which makes buildings crucial to New York City’s goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. In fact, the mayor’s office estimates that these bills will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 250,000 metric tons throughout the city, and create an estimated 100 jobs by spurring retrofits in 16,000 buildings. I attended the bill signing on October 31st, and am proud to say that Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been working closely with both the mayor’s office and the City Council to get to this point, along with our partners, the New York League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Urban Green Council.
These new laws – which affect 57 percent of New York City’s buildings (a higher percentage than any other U.S. city) – are important because they mandate that buildings track their energy use. Tracking use will inform necessary energy-efficiency upgrades that will have lasting impacts and ultimately improve the city’s environment and New Yorkers’ public health. Read More
It’s no secret that companies use goals to push their businesses in a positive direction. Whether it’s about creating more value or reducing impacts, goals provide focus, direction, and a sense of urgency. Recently, a wave corporate, climate-related goals, such as renewable energy and emissions-reductions targets, have grabbed the public’s attention. Companies, cities, and other large institutions are stepping up and committing to reduce their environmental impact. But behind the scenes, are these goals actually leading to corporate action? And if so, what kind?
As program director of EDF Climate Corps, every summer I get a glimpse inside the operations of 100 large organizations that are working to manage energy and carbon in progressively responsible ways. This past summer, 125 EDF Climate Corps fellows – talented graduate students armed with training and expert support – worked to advance clean energy projects in large organizations across the U.S. and in China. Their project work reveals that organizations are more strategic, focused, and results-oriented than ever. More than 70 percent of EDF Climate Corps host organizations have energy or emissions-reductions goals, and to meet these targets, our class of 2016 fellows were strategically deployed to help achieve them. In fact, the majority (two-thirds) of our entire cohort of fellows worked on strategic plans and analyses that will help turn these goals into action. So what did we see this summer? Read More
Ohio policymakers are at a crossroads. They can create jobs, grow the economy, cut pollution, and save customers money by rebuilding the state’s renewable and energy efficiency policies, or they can continue to let Ohio fall behind in the clean energy economy.
A little background: In 2014, the Ohio Legislature placed a two-year freeze on the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards as a result of political pressure from Ohio’s largest power company, FirstEnergy, among others. The standards required electric utilities to generate 12.5 percent of electricity sales from renewable sources, as well as reduce energy consumption 22 percent by 2025 through efficiency programs. Since the freeze, Ohio has lost millions of dollars in energy investment and jobs, and lags behind nearly every other state in percentage of renewable energy generated.
Now that the two years are almost up, it’s time for Ohio to decide how to move forward – if at all – on its clean energy standards. Fortunately, according to a new report from Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy, there are at least three achievable routes to reinstate the renewable and efficiency standards – each of which would provide substantial economic and health benefits to the state at a value of $3 to $5 billion by 2030. Read More
By Ellen Shenette, EDF Climate Corps Analyst
It’s no secret that renewable energy is becoming cheaper, and while we’ve seen companies like Google and Microsoft investing in utility-scale renewables, what about mainstream corporate America? Are large corporations jumping on the clean energy bandwagon or are they dragging their feet? As a data analyst at EDF Climate Corps, I turned to the numbers for answers. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look far. An analysis from our recently release report: Scaling Success: Recent Trends in Organizational Energy Management, says it all.
For almost a decade, EDF Climate Corps has been partnering with business to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving energy efficiency through our graduate fellowship program.
As I followed the numbers, a new clean energy trend stood out: over the last 5 years, clean and renewable energy projects have grown five-fold, with 1/3 of our partner organizations working on at least one clean energy project in 2015. Companies have been using their EDF Climate Corps fellows to decipher the complex landscape of technologies, policies, procurement strategies, and financing options for renewable energy. As we tally the results for our 2016 fellowship program, we expect the focus on clean energy to continue to grow, and don’t plan on it stopping anytime soon.
By: Andy Vargas, EDF Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Public Policy Fellow
Hispanic Heritage Month is in full swing! It has also been a welcome way to kick off my placement with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Public Policy Fellow. Each year, CHCI marks Hispanic Heritage Month with a Public Policy Conference elevating the issues most important to Latino communities. This year, I had the pleasure of representing both CHCI and EDF, introducing a panel on an emerging and critical topic for Latinos: clean energy.
Clean energy is key to protecting Latino communities from disproportionate impacts of climate change and pollution. At last week’s conference, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) highlighted that half the U.S. Latino population currently lives in the country’s most polluted cities. NHLA also noted that asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are more prevalent in inner city Latino communities near carbon-producing power plants.