Green Building Conference, Sept 4-6, Harrisonburg, Va.

The Mid-Atlantic Sustainability Conference

Mid-Atlantic Sustainability Conference

September 4-6, 2014 at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia

Join us for three days of dynamic presentations on high-performance construction, renewable energy, energy efficiency, building science, and more.

Speakers include industry luminaries such as Allison Bailes, Sam Rashkin, Peter Yost, and yours truly, Andrew Grigsby of CSW. Learn about projects, programs, and policies in Virginia from representatives from JMU, LEAP, Earthcraft, and NAHB.

Y’all come!

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Creative Funding Brings Energy Efficiency to Scale

Like so many new efforts to address persistent societal problems, there are creative new financial instruments to generate funding. CSW’s Andrew Grigsby serves on the board of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (www.vaeec.org), which is working to create/improve funding in Virginia for efficiency improvements via a variety of techniques (sorry for the alphabet soup) including PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy, see http://pacenow.org/about-pace), WHEEL (Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans, see https://wheel.renewfund.com/how_it_works), and  QECBs (Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, see http://www.naseo.org/data/sites/1/documents/publications/QECB_Briefing_Report.pdf). Join VAEEC today to help in this effort.

A sample of success stories:

“For a number of state and local governments, QECB-financed projects have achieved dramatic results. In Las Vegas, Nevada, the city used a portion of its $5.9 million allocation to replace 6,600 street lights with LEDs. The project was so successful that the city has developed a proposal to replace an additional 37,000 streetlights for $18 million, financed through a regular municipal bond. St. Louis County, Missouri issued $10 million in QECBs, leveraging $592,000 of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funding, to capitalize a residential green community loan program. With this $10 million loan pool, St. Louis County anticipates providing financing to about 1,400 home energy upgrades, or over 5 times the number of improvements they could have achieved with just their EECBG funds.”

P.3, NASEO QECB Briefing Report

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Your chance to comment on Virginia’s energy plan

Virginia is currently in the process of updating the state energy plan. You can submit your comments and ideas at the Dept. of Commerce website. Or – present your comments in person at one of the 6 “listening sessions” that the state energy office is hosting around the commonwealth.

As a representative of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, CSW principal Andrew Grigsby will be presenting at the June 19th listening session in South Boston at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center at 6:00PM. Members of the Governor’s staff and the just formed Virginia Energy Council will be on hand to listen to comments.

Help us shift to the clean energy economy of the future. Come voice your support for making energy efficiency and renewables major components of Virginia’s energy mix. Virginia set a voluntary goal of 10% efficiency and renewables by 2022. Major utilities currently are proposing less than 1%. Other states are requiring 12.5% by 2021 (NC), 20% by 2022 (MD), or even 33% by 2020 (CA). Let’s step it up Virginia!

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Get an energy audit before you buy! (or move in) (or renovate)

A while back I visited a very old home in a historic district in a Virginia town. The new owners were just finishing unpacking when I came to do an energy audit. I was very sad to see that they had purchased a new boiler and water heater before moving in. Both appliances were the least efficient models available for purchase these days.

Mostly the new owners wanted to talk with me about what to do about their windows in a neighborhood where the law prevented changing the historic façade. Of course the ancient single-pane windows are a huge problem – but there are no cheap or straightforward solutions. Meanwhile their brand new boiler and water heater were 80% efficient – that’s one in five of their gas bill dollars thrown away. The best new models are up to 98% efficient.

The problem here is a failure to think of the whole house as a system. Upgrading to high-performance equipment would have reduced energy costs just as much as spending a ton on custom interior storms or significant rebuilding of the historic windows – without any extra work or intrusion into their home.

So don’t get hung up on one problem in your home. Call an experienced energy auditor who will consider how all of the systems in the home are working. You may be surprised to learn where there are cost-effective ways to save energy. And do this before you buy the home! Or at least before you make major investments in it.

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The Green Button Initiative

   This really could turn into something. At the urging of the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy, utilities have begun developing a set of standards and procedures to make energy use data easily accessible to energy consumers. Once this standardized data stream is in place, supporters expect that companies and technologies will develop to use that data for consumer applications, targeted efficiency improvements, community energy programs, and more. It’s government initiating the collaboration to spur helpful innovation. See http://collaborate.nist.gov/twiki-sggrid/bin/view/SmartGrid/GreenButtonInitiative.

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Fixing duct leaks can be easy

The average US home is said to have greater than 15% duct leakage to the outside. That’s money going right out window. Sometimes there are cheap fixes. The fix pictured below cut more than 50 CFM (that’s cubic feet per minute) of leakage from a new home. We removed the grille from the HVAC supply register and sealed the metal boot to the surrounding drywall – for just 4 registers. We used mastic. Painters’ caulk works fine too. The grille will cover the grey mastic.

before                                                                                 after

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