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April 4, 2013 - 2:27pm

By Therese Langer, Transportation Program Director

Freight movement is among the fastest growing energy uses in the world, yet fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for the heavy-duty vehicles that move freight are still in their infancy. To date, Japan, the U.S., and Canada have adopted fuel efficiency and/or greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses, while China, Mexico, and the European Union are considering doing so.  A new ACEEE report looks at what these programs have in common, how they differ, and what the prospects are for bringing them closer together.

Distinct configurations of heavy-duty vehicles are legion, presenting a challenge to creating manageable standards. The U.S....

March 29, 2013 - 10:44am

By Rachel Young, National Policy Research Analyst

Last week I participated in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Water Conservation Showcase as part of a panel on tackling the energy-water nexus. Conference attendees overflowed the room, and after our panel presentation, my fellow panelists and I were surrounded by participants voicing concern about the need for water and energy experts to collaborate and solve challenges relating to program design, implementation, and accounting. ACEEE believes the energy and water communities would benefit from new policy frameworks for integrated resource planning, improved tools and metrics to help administrators measure savings, and more peer-to-peer education to help overcome barriers. The interest in joint programs is high and hunger from program implementers for more information and assistance is strong.

ACEEE is engaged in this cause. Recently we released a joint report with the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), Tackling the Nexus: Exemplary Programs that Save Both Energy and Water, and we also maintain a...

March 21, 2013 - 8:46am

By Steven Nadel, Executive Director

While there is disagreement among politicians about the role of government spending and government regulations to spur cost-effective energy efficiency investments, politicians of all political stripes agree that knocking down market barriers that keep Americans from saving money is a worthy task.

Within this context, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a new report on Monday highlighting 16 policies that would use market forces to spur additional cost-effective investments in energy efficiency while helping to surmount market barriers that hinder these investments. In total, these policies could save consumers and businesses nearly $1 trillion over the 2014-2030 period, considering both the energy bill savings and the cost of the energy efficiency investments.

The United States has become much more energy efficient in the last few decades, but there are still large, cost-effective opportunities available to advance efficiency even further, while improving the economy at the same time. However, a variety of market failures and market barriers contribute to keeping us from fully realizing our energy efficiency potential. Examples of such market barriers include lack of information that would help would-be purchasers and tenants identify more...

March 19, 2013 - 2:38pm

By Paul Komor, Energy Education Director at the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI)

In addition to his work at RASEI, Paul Komar is a lecturer in the environmental studies program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

As the energy efficiency field grows, the demand for talented and well-trained energy efficiency professionals keeps climbing. Where will these folks come from? Will they have the right skills and knowledge? Will they continue and accelerate the progress we've made in increasing energy efficiency?

To inspire the next generation of energy efficiency professionals, expose them to the many and varied aspects of energy efficiency, and provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) at the University of Colorado-Boulder is offering a Summer School on Energy Efficiency. This Summer School will provide an interdisciplinary exposure to efficiency. We'll cover scientific and technical principles, policy and programmatic aspects, and business perspectives. University faculty, as well as leading practitioners, will provide students with in-depth training in both the theory and practice of energy efficiency.  

If you know of any bright and ambitious college students—upper-level undergraduates or graduate students—that might be interested, let them know about our...

March 15, 2013 - 10:49am

By Casey Bell, Senior Economist and Finance Policy Lead

Last week marked an important milestone in efforts to advance financing of energy efficiency. The Pennsylvania Treasury sold nearly 4,700 loans from the Keystone HELP program for a projected total of $31.3 million. The cash component for the sale was provided by a consortium of three banks—Fox Chase Bank, WSFS Bank, and National Penn Bank. This transaction advances nationwide efforts to develop a secondary market for energy efficiency lending products.

The Keystone Help program was originally established by AFC First Financial and provides low-interest loans for residential energy efficiency measures including (but not limited to) high-efficiency furnace or boiler replacements, geothermal heating and cooling units, insulation installations, and door and window replacements. The Pennsylvania Treasury launched the program statewide in 2006 and since then the program has made nearly 11,000 loans for $75 million. AFC First Financial continues to originate the loans and...

March 14, 2013 - 8:38am

By Susan Mazur-Stommen, Behavior and Human Dimensions Program Director

The Behavioral Program staff at ACEEE is pleased to announce today’s publication of Trusted Partners: Everyday Energy Efficiency Across the South. We used a case study approach at sites in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana and talked with people in small towns and big cities, in their homes, on their farms, and about their businesses. Each interview included a core set of questions about demographics and basic energy use attitudes for a general picture of energy consumption in the South. During our fieldwork, we collected about 60 hours of audio from formal interviews alone!

One of our overarching questions was, “Are end-users of energy in these states interested in energy efficiency?” Among the people we talked to, the biggest take-away from this project is YES! Consumers of energy in the South are interested in practicing energy efficiency. The Southerners we talked to also told us that what they need to advance energy efficiency is a neutral source of trustworthy information about what activities best suit their needs and specific contexts.

We believe that there is a large undiscovered potential for energy savings in the South and that behavior change is one of the keys to unlock it. Savings realized from investing in energy efficiency can be directed towards other needs within a community, and...

March 13, 2013 - 8:55am

By Ben Foster, Research Analyst

Last week, states from the Dakotas to New England were surprised by a late winter storm. Energy efficiency in the states has had its own share of surprise squalls recently. As we now sit on the cusp of spring, it seems an appropriate opportunity to offer my own outlook on states’ pursuit of energy efficiency in 2013.

In his blog post earlier this year, ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel noted several positive developments in energy efficiency at the federal level, including new fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles and updated efficiency standards for clothes washers and dishwashers. He also identified new opportunities for moving forward on energy efficiency policy, particularly through sating the...

March 7, 2013 - 12:29pm

By Sameer Kwatra, Senior Analyst

Building energy codes determine the minimum efficiency level for the design and construction of new buildings, and significant additions and renovations to existing buildings. Several developments came together in the last few years that make a strong case for the involvement of utilities in advancing the adoption, implementation, and compliance verification of building energy codes. First, every state that received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 committed to adopting national model codes along with agreeing to implement a plan to reach at least 90% compliance by 2017. Second, many states have established Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS), which provide a clear and tangible energy efficiency target to utilities...

March 5, 2013 - 2:58pm

By Kate Johnson, Senior Analyst, Local Policy

Whole-home energy retrofits are growing in popularity across the country, but what if you are one of the more than 20 million American households that live in an apartment or condo? What if you own or manage an apartment building? Multifamily buildings represent a large and mostly untapped potential for saving energy as traditional energy efficiency programs have focused on single-family homes or commercial office buildings. Multifamily buildings present unique challenges and opportunities for energy savings that do not lend themselves to a one-size-fits-all approach. One key to unlocking their potential is scaling up energy efficiency programs that are specifically designed to reach the owners and tenants of multifamily buildings and to overcome common barriers to investing in energy efficiency. These include split incentives between landlords and tenants and building owners’ lack of capital to make major investments.

We will be highlighting strategies to save energy in multifamily buildings throughout the month of March, beginning with our new report released today. The report, Scaling up Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs: A Metropolitan Area Assessment, maps the opportunities to expand energy efficiency programs for multifamily buildings in the 50 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest multifamily housing...

March 4, 2013 - 10:05am

By Maggie Molina, Utilities, State, and Local Policy Program Director

Last Wednesday was a sad day for energy efficiency in Louisiana, and customers will end up paying the price. In a sudden move, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to overturn their newly-adopted energy efficiency rules enacted in December of last year.

The rules from December set up a framework for improving energy efficiency in homes and business around the state, and were a result of several years of hard work and careful consideration by the PSC staff and numerous stakeholders involved in the process. As written in the order, the PSC staff “found a general consensus that [energy efficiency] can provide benefits to both utilities and their customers.” Indeed, energy efficiency is the state’s least costly and least risky energy resource. The rules established guidance for “quick-start” energy efficiency programs to be offered by electricity and natural gas utilities in the state over the next two years, following a similar model to Arkansas. By overturning the rules, Louisiana falls further behind its neighbor on energy efficiency.