Monthly Archives: September 2013

Welcome To Chicagoland

This commentary originally appeared on EDF’s Climate Corps blog.

By: Sitar Mody, Senior Manager of Strategy, Environmental Defense Fund

Today, EDF Climate Corps is thrilled to launch a major initiative to accelerate energy performance in buildings in the city of Chicago.

Chicago is a beautiful city. Chicago is an historic city. Chicago is also a city with a clear and powerful dedication to advancing energy efforts citywide. Many buildings in Chicago are already on a path to greater energy management having committed to Retrofit Chicago – the city’s premier initiative to help buildings reduce their energy use by 20% over 5 years.

EDF’s new Building Energy Initiative in Chicago will complement Retrofit Chicago by giving building owners and operators the “boots on the ground” to sustain their commitments and facilitate access to advanced energy markets – all to save money and the environment.

EDF is recruiting 50 buildings in the city to participate in EDF Climate Corps and developing a robust network for building owners and operators to accelerate adoption of leading energy management practices and gain confidence in implementing innovative investments. We also have two experts, Devesh Nirmul and Ellen Bell, on the ground in Chicago to provide year-round technical support.

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Two Powerhouse Texas Cities Lead Country In Energy Efficiency

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released its inaugural City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks cities on their energy efficiency efforts, specifically on initiatives for buildings, transportation, energy and water utility efforts, local government operations and communitywide projects.

Austin placed in the top ten at #6, followed by Houston (#13), Dallas (#14) and San Antonio (#16) in the top 20 and El Paso (#23) and Fort Worth #26 falling just below that mark. Austin and San Antonio probably don’t surprise too many people, especially in light of my previous posts, but Houston, the nation’s oil and gas capital, and Dallas, a high-powered business center, probably don’t spring to mind for most people. However, these two cities have recently turned the tide and are gearing up for a big Texas clean energy showdown.

I think it’s worthwhile to mention that these two cities are impacted by the drought, although Houston feels the strain less due to its location in the Gulf Coast flood plain. But this locational drought-buffer carries its own problems, namely the threat of rising sea-levels, which are predicted to significantly affect Houston.

On top of that, both cities are in non-attainment with ozone standards, meaning their air quality is worse than the minimum threshold set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Therefore, there is a great need to improve the cities’ air quality in order to protect local citizens from health hazards. This gives them a further incentive to undertake clean energy initiatives. Read More »

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Lessons From A Toxic Waste Dump

Texas is home to half the oil and gas exploration and production in the United States. Looking out west is the Permian Basin. To the north is the Barnett. Out east is the Haynesville and due south is the Eagle Ford. Oil and gas is a vibrant industry in Texas. Historically it’s been the lifeblood of the state’s economy.  But, as with any industrial development, it comes with its own set of serious risks to the environment. Impacts on our land, air, water and climate that if not managed correctly can have lasting consequences.

As an engineer working on water quality issues and related environmental issues for over 30 years, I’ve seen firsthand the effects of unregulated industrial activity. In 1980, the federal government passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, better known as Superfund. Superfund legislation gave the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to compel the cleanup of abandoned hazardous waste sites in our country, suing those responsible, and even establishing a trust fund to address toxic sites with no known responsible party. In Texas, these sites were the result of decades of industrial development caused by, for example, old lead production plants dating back to the early 1900s, World War II era defense manufacturing and the rise of the petrochemical industry.
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ICP Protocol For Standard Commercial Projects

By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant, Environmental Defense Fund

The Investor Confidence Project (ICP) is pleased to announce the release of our newest Energy Performance Protocol for Standard Commercial projects – defined as multiple-measure energy efficiency projects typically costing less than $1MM.

This protocol strikes a balance between engineering and measurement and verification best practices and the need for a streamlined, cost-effective approach to developing a standardized investment quality energy efficiency project.  This latest addition complements our existing Large Commercial Protocol in an effort to develop a family of protocols addressing the range of projects types common in the growing energy efficiency retrofit marketplace.

The goal of the Energy Performance Protocols, as a whole, is to reduce transaction costs associated with investing in energy efficiency projects by standardizing how projects are baselined, engineered, installed, operated and measured.  This allows investors and building owners to gain confidence in the long-term return on their energy efficiency investments.  The goal is to bring together project originators, building owners and investors in a more transparent, and thus more robust, marketplace.

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A New Study Measures Methane Leaks In The Natural Gas Industry

This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.

Source: Penn State Outreach/flickr

Earlier this week, a prestigious scientific journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published “Measurements of methane emissions at natural gas production sites in the United States.”  This study is the first in a comprehensive research initiative that Environmental Defense Fund is helping to produce with more than 90 partner universities, scientists, research facilities and natural gas industry companies. This effort, the largest scientific undertaking in EDF’s history, is an unprecedented attempt to measure where and how much methane is being released across the entire natural gas supply chain.

By the time the work is finished, around the end of 2014, scientists working with EDF will have completed sixteen studies characterizing methane emissions in five key areas of the natural gas system: production, gathering and processing,transmission and storagelocal distribution and use in operating and fueling heavy and medium weight trucks.

The study that published Monday was led by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and is based on some of the first-ever direct measurements of methane emissions from shale gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

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Keeping It Clean: California Should Use Clean Resources To Integrate Renewables

This commentary originally appeared on EDF’s California Dream 2.0 blog.

As the 8th largest economy in the world, California remains a global leader in clean tech investment, innovation and adoption of landmark climate and energy policies. What defines our success?  Our ability to try things first, set the bar high, and get policies right.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a perfect example of that bold, pioneering spirit. Passed in 2011, the RPS required that 33% of electricity come from renewables by 2020 – a lofty benchmark, even by California’s standards. Along with self-generation and solar rooftop programs, California is successfully adding solar, wind, and other distributed generation to its resource portfolio.

In fact, renewables are successfully becoming a large part of daytime energy production, the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO) – the organization in charge of balancing the statewide grid – is concerned over how to make up for that energy when the sun goes down while evening energy demand spikes.  The question is: How can the CAISO reliably integrate renewables?

The CAISO is currently figuring out how to address this need for “flexible” power and will have a draft decision out on October 2nd.  Just like people prefer to take routes they know well when they drive, the CAISO is most comfortable with what they know: familiar fossil fuels. Using clean resources and demand response instead is new territory for them that will require careful orienteering.

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