Energy Exchange

New global underwriting standard for the buildings sector helps cities tackle pollution

Cities around the world are taking the lead on fighting climate change, making huge commitments to reduce pollution and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. And it’s a good thing they are.

According to C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from cities, and about half of this pollution comes from buildings alone. All in all, buildings account for about 40 percent of all energy use – and up to half of this energy is wasted. With 70 percent of the world’s estimated 9 billion people expected to live in urban areas by 2050, addressing energy use in buildings (and the carbon emission it creates) is essential to catalyzing cities’ efforts. Reducing “building emissions” will require a toolbox of policy, finance, and engagement with public and private sector building owners, managers, and investors.

This week, a tool Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) began designing about five years ago to help investors weigh and value energy efficiency projects is becoming a global underwriting standard for building upgrades. Following successful momentum in the United States, Europe, and Canada, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) officially joined the portfolio of global certification programs delivered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI) including LEED (for green buildings), GRESB (for real estate portfolios), and WELL (for healthy buildings).  GBCI is now providing world-class training and support for ICP’s Investor-Ready Energy Efficiency ™ (IREE) certification. Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Investor Confidence Project / Leave a comment

Trump kills solar jobs, taxes families and businesses, but he can’t kill solar competitiveness

With President Trump’s announcement this week to slap a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and modules, the solar industry once again finds itself in the firing line, targeted by the political whims of elected officials.

This political posturing has created uncertainty in the marketplace. In the last decade, solar has suffered from seven changes to the investment tax credit. And in the last few months, the industry got a double whammy of the BEAT tax – which will negatively affect equity investments in solar development – and the threat from the Department of Energy’s plan to prop up dirty coal while undermining solar. The tariff decision this week – a protectionist attempt by Trump to appeal to his anti-free trade base – is the latest assault on clean energy and a tax on American families, businesses, and utilities who want to go solar. Republicans once considered such actions a “tax on consumers.”

Despite these attacks, solar is still booming. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that in the last five years, the U.S. solar industry has attracted more than $100 billion in investment, realized year-over-year growth rates of 21 percent, and now employs more than 260,000 people. The tariff may slow the growth of solar, but it doesn’t kill its competitiveness. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

Here’s how New Jersey can capitalize on its best clean energy investment opportunities

Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s clean energy agenda has the potential to be a game-changer for New Jersey. His influence can position the state to regain its leadership in the fight against climate change, and create a clean energy economy that will lead to more jobs, and improve the health and well-being of all New Jerseyans.

To capitalize on this opportunity and achieve the state’s goals of clean, resilient, and affordable energy and transportation systems, we need to build on the progress we’ve made with new policies and programs that will allow the adoption of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and clean transportation infrastructure at scale.

With New Jersey’s many competing investment needs, how will we pay for a much needed clean energy transformation? Public funds, whether from tax payers or utility customers, are not enough. EDF’s latest report, Financing New Jersey's Clean Energy Economy: Pathways for Leadership, analyzes three innovative financial approaches that leverage public resources to catalyze private investment in these technologies. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Energy Efficiency / Read 1 Response

Cuba’s electric future: Lessons learned and pathways forward

A new report from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) highlights lessons learned and recommendations for the future of Cuba’s electric sector. These include the benefits of Cuba’s decentralized grid, the potential benefits of fueling the grid with more clean energy, and new financing opportunities. The full report is entitled The Cuban Electric Grid, and an abridged version appears in The Electricity Journal. The report builds upon more than a decade of EDF engagement in Cuba.

Here are five key takeaways from the report. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Historic buildings or energy efficiency? Texas gets both, with innovative financing.

When it comes to the history and DNA of a city, new buildings have nothing on century-old ones. Yet the reverse can be said in regard to water and energy efficiency. Older buildings reflect the culture and history of a community, but typically are highly inefficient.

Such was the case with the Butler Brothers Building in Dallas, a previously-abandoned 1910 structure that was often referred to as an eyesore. So when the real estate developer Alterra International decided to turn the building into a mixed-use complex with apartments, hotel rooms, and retail space, a lot of work was needed to improve its water and energy efficiency – work that required up-front capital investments.

Through the Texas PACE Authority’s “PACE in a Box” model, Alterra International was able to secure $23.9 million in PACE financing for upgrades that will slash carbon pollution, cutting energy use by about 40 percent and annual water use by almost 700,000 gallons.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a financing model that helps local governments and the private sector back energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades for homes and businesses. Texas is the only state that includes water in its PACE programs and could serve as a model for other water-strapped states. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Texas / Comments are closed

The energy sector needs to adapt to millennials—not vice versa

By Elizabeth Villedrouin, Communications Intern, Clean Energy and Kristen Moore, Research Intern, Clean Energy

As interns at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we’ve been tapped as resident experts on surviving on college budgets, social media, and all things Millennial.  Research tells us Millennials are the largest living generation. So, as Clean Energy interns this summer, we’ve learned that gives us much power to change the game for the energy sector. But in unexpected ways.

As young people, we’re working at EDF because we want to promote systemic, market-based solutions and new technologies that shift our country toward clean energy and away from our fossil fuel past (did someone say solar paint?).

We have high standards for our energy future, and our priorities differ from our parents’ (for example, millennials tend to value careers [PDF] over religious life). And although we’re the thriftiest generation, 64 percent of us are actually willing to pay more on our electric bill if it’s generated by clean energy. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Innovation, General, Grid Modernization / Read 5 Responses