New York’s environmental and utility regulators are moving closer to a unified approach to building a cleaner, more robust, and affordable energy system.
The Public Service Commission (PSC), New York’s utility regulator, has been working to rethink how New York makes, moves, and uses electricity through its innovative Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative. Specifically, it has been steering utilities toward a more decentralized electric grid, one that relies more heavily on distributed energy resources. These resources may be clean (such as energy efficiency or solar rooftops) but they may also be dirty (such as older diesel generators). While REV aims to encourage carbon emissions reductions, there is a risk that the initiative could cause environmental harm by driving adoption of dirty distributed energy resources. Getting environmental rules in place before REV becomes a driver of these types of emissions is a matter of real urgency. Read More
Companies today employ a wide array of energy reduction strategies, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the utilization of data management systems. But how can companies simultaneously improve these distinct facets of energy management and ultimately scale them? Increasingly, companies that show excellence in comprehensive, strategic energy management are able to employ both top-down and bottom-up management approaches, and infuse data into all levels of their work. This approach to driving progress has proven successful in many corporate energy management programs and is responsible for an increasing number of gains in the space over the last few years.
When it comes to energy efficiency, companies often take a bottom-up approach to establishing their programs. Despite being a clear win-win for a company’s bottom line and the environment, energy efficiency is fraught with challenges that make implementation at scale challenging. It is highly technical in nature, has dispersed ownership among many stakeholders, often relies on large capital outlays, and is generally considered outside the core business of most companies. Because of these barriers and others, energy managers often have to demonstrate the value of energy efficiency projects through small initiatives before receiving the support necessary to scale up their work. While this approach may be frustrating to energy managers who innately understand the potential of their projects to generate large-scale reductions, time and time again it has proven to be an effective catalyst for increased energy efficiency adoption down the road. Read More
By: Ellen Eilers, Moms Clean Air Force Ohio
In a post-Paris world, where nearly 200 countries have pledged to act on climate disruption, climate denial is fast losing its viability.
And toward the end of last year, White House Senior Adviser Brian Deese discussed the impact of global climate action on renewable energy, saying the historic Paris agreement "sends a strong signal to the global capital markets that something has fundamentally changed. [It] sends investors a signal that clean and renewable energy is the future.”
That signal seems to have faltered here in Ohio. Our state renewable energy and energy efficiency standards are still held in an “indefinite freeze.” Recent talk from Governor John Kasich, however, provides hope that we could soon see Ohio back on the path to a cleaner energy future. Read More
Growing up in eastern North Carolina was a great experience. Wayne County was my home, and I spent many weekends fishing for bass and hunting quail with my father on the family farm in nearby Bladen County. The time outdoors was great for character building, and visiting with relatives, friends, and elders in the community was equally important for understanding my heritage and the challenges my parents overcame.
You see, Bladen County is classified as a “persistent poverty county” by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, meaning the poverty rate has exceeded 20 percent of the population for the last 30 years. More than 25 percent of Bladen residents live in poverty. My family, friends, and elders were no exceptions. Despite the struggles, the personal connection to the land, water, and wildlife nourished and empowered the farming community.
When I joined Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) eight years ago, I seized the opportunity to find inclusive solutions to environmental problems. I started hunting for two different kinds of game: first, diversifying the traditional definition of environmental leadership and second, increasing access to clean, affordable energy for everyone. The two go hand-in-hand. Let me explain. Read More
It has been about six years since an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) staffer first looked out the window in our New York City office, saw black smoke coming from a building’s chimney, and wondered what it was. This concern led to EDF’s Bottom of the Barrel report, which determined the smoke was caused by No. 6 heating oil. A highly polluting fuel source, No. 6 heating oil is hugely harmful to public health and the environment – not to mention, bad for building efficiency. This led to a citywide regulation to phase out No. 6 and No. 4 heating oils, and to create a program called NYC Clean Heat to help buildings switch to cleaner fuels.
And now, New York City is free of No. 6 oil.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that all 5,300 buildings that were registered as burning No. 6 heating oil in 2011 have converted to a cleaner fuel. This historic moment for New York City means cleaner air (soot pollution has decreased more than 50 percent) and a healthier city: 210 premature deaths and 540 hospitalizations will now be avoided yearly. It’s not often you see an environmental issue that is so quantifiable, or one where you can say it’s been completely achieved. Read More
I’ve always been proud to be from Illinois. As a Midwestern girl who went out East for college, I spoke often about the wonders of my hometown of Chicago: from our miles of gorgeous public lakefront, to our proud history as the home of the first skyscraper. We have a scrappy side, too. As a city that rebuilt itself from scratch after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, we’ve always worn the title, ‘Second City’ as a badge of honor (and a chip on our shoulder, when it’s used as anything but a compliment).
That’s why when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual Top 10 States for LEED, it came as no surprise to me that Illinois topped the list for the third year in a row. The ranking evaluates states based on sustainable building design, construction, and transformation, demonstrating Illinois’ progressive leadership when it comes to energy management in buildings.
Illinois has taken the lead, but property managers who haven’t jumped on the energy efficiency bandwagon yet should join now – there’s plenty of room. It’s never too late to pursue efficiency opportunities that benefit your organization’s bottom line. Read More