A nonpartisan clean-energy network for local chambers of commerce found that many are serving as catalysts of clean energy innovation and growth.
The Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy surveyed hundreds of local chambers from around the country and found that they are becoming major drivers of innovation and economic development with clean energy.
“We found that chambers are eager to help their member companies tap into growing clean-energy markets,” wrote Diane Doucette, the Executive Director of the organization.
“Local chambers are trusted business experts in their communities and have a unique ability to bring together policymakers, regulators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, nonprofit groups, and labor around economic development and the emerging clean-energy economy.”
Corporate sustainability reporting has been enacted in many large companies as a way to track energy usage. When done incorrectly however, CSR can do more harm than good. Here are ten mistakes to avoid for your CSR report:
Weak goals: know what success looks like for your company and build your CSR around that
Mismanaged data: collect good data, and assign responsibilities to trained people to check for accuracy
Disordered priorities: prioritize sustainability in the CSR reports as well as financial performance
Discounting feedback: take advice from third parties such as auditors
Breaking the rules: good reporting should follow a trusted framework or guideline
Tenuous comparisons: know how sustainable you are compared to your industry peers, not your own benchmarks
Unreachable targets: make your targets relevant and aggressive, but still achievable
Underreporting: communicate your progress in a variety of ways and in different media
Thinking short-term: don’t turn down a sustainable opportunity because of a higher price tag or longer ROI
Inadvertently greenwashing: don’t focus solely on the positives; make reporting meaningful by acknowledging areas for improvement
The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report stating that extending current energy policies could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.
“Policies that would need to be extended to achieve the reduction include the production tax credit for wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewable resources and the investment tax credit for solar generation technologies.”
If the policies were extended, EIA projects that the cumulative amount of energy use between 2013 and 2040 would be about 55 quadrillion Btu lower.
The total solar energy hitting the Earth each year is equivalent to 12.2 trillion watt-hours, so why isn’t solar energy used more?
Much like natural gas, solar power is getting easier to store, and at a much lower price. The total solar energy hitting Earth each year is equivalent to 12.2 trillion watt-hours, so why isn’t solar energy used more?
Currently, photovoltaic solar panels produce only 0.7 percent of the energy the world uses. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the average cost per megawatt-hour for solar is $156.90, compared to $99.60 per MW/h in coal, and between $65.50-$132 per MW/h of natural gas.
While the cost may defer some, the financial and technology problems that solar faces is closer to being solved.
“If the trend stays on track for another eight to ten years, solar generated electricity in the U.S. will descend to a level of $120 per MW/h by 2020, or even 2015 for the sunniest parts of America. If prices continue to fall over the next 20 years, solar costs will be half that of coal (and have the added benefits of zero carbon emissions, zero mining costs, and zero scarcity).”
There have also been big advances in thermal storage that continues to be developed by scientists. The combination of lowered costs and better storage capacity would mean plenty of solar energy production and widespread falling energy costs.
High performance buildings are showing they can attain net zero energy in just a year. Net zero buildings typically generate most of the power they use from renewables onsite.
The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) created a Net Zero Energy Building Certification in 2011 to recognize the green buildings. Each certification requires performance monitoring for a full year after occupancy.
Net Zero certified projects must meet some of the non-energy requirements of the Living Building Challenge, including site, beauty, and equity. Read more about these beautiful and sustainable buildings at Greenbiz.com.
Centrinex, a call center in Lenexa, KS, recently had Worldwide Energy install a lighting control system to allow them to monitor and control lighting in their facility. The lighting control system allows Centrinex to monitor lighting based on what spaces are being used by employees and what are not. They can also control lighting switches remotely from a desk.
Centrinex is expected to save more than $18,000 a year and reduce 149,507 kWh annually.
Add Boston to the list of cities that have approved energy benchmarking. The city ordinance will require larger commercial and residential buildings to report annual energy and water usage to the city, making the information available for the public.
Seven other cities have enacted energy benchmarking including New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. California and Washington are the only two states that have reporting requirements aimed at reducing carbon emissions by cutting energy consumption.
The Boston ordinance requires only the reporting of data and energy audits for less-efficient buildings. It is hoped that “creating transparency around energy use will result in market forces driving a reduction of greenhouse gases as owners take steps to improve efficiencies and remain competitive among tenants focused on operating costs and sustainable workplaces.”
Transparency in commercial buildings is sure to stick around, and will undoubtly lead to improvements in energy performance and increased building values.
There’s something about solar in California. The state has continued to rank the highest in solar energy production in the last few years, but is it because of a new trend?
The town of Sebastopol in western Sonoma County is looking to pass an aggressive ordinance that will require residential and commercial buildings to include a solar-power-generating system or pay an in-lieu fee. With the new ordinance, a 2,500 square-foot home would need a 5-kilowatt system, or have its output meet three-quarters of the building’s electrical load on an annual basis.
This follows another California city, Lancaster, who earlier this year required solar on new houses.
In an effort to promote clean energy, should solar be mandated? Sound off in the comments.
The KPMG Global Energy recently found that a majority of energy executives believe the U.S. can reach energy independence by 2030. The Energy Industry Outlook Survey polled more than 100 senior executives representing global companies.
Of all the respondents, 62 percent believe the U.S. can attain energy independence by 2030, a ten percent increase from last year. Of those respondents, 23 percent believed energy independence can be achieved as early as 2020.
“The majority of respondents also believed the energy industry’s emphasis in developing environmentally friendly technologies should focus on natural gas, with 79 percent supporting that view.”
Nearly all respondents indicated they were expecting continued research and development investment in alternative energy projects.