DOE Resources Help Measure Building Energy Benchmarking Policy & Program Effectiveness

The Energy Department has released two resources to help stakeholders analyze the energy, non-energy, and market transformation impacts of building energy benchmarking policies and programs. The first is a handbook that provides methodologies for jurisdictions to use to analyze the impact of their benchmarking policies and programs. The second resource demonstrates the methodologies using real data from New York City’s benchmarking ordinance, Local Law 84 (LL84). Building energy benchmarking is the process of measuring how efficiently a building uses energy relative to the other similar buildings over time.

The DOE Benchmarking & Transparency Policy and Program Impact Evaluation Handbook provides cost-effective, standardized analytic methods for determining gross and net energy reduction, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mitigation, job creation and economic growth impacts. The Handbook also provides an extensive, holistic framework for evaluating the market transformation progress of benchmarking policies. It is a “how-to” guide with clear procedures and data requirements, permitting any jurisdiction or interested party—such as consultants, researchers, or government officials—to assess benchmarking polices in a consistent manner.

DOE also sponsored the New York City Benchmarking and Transparency Policy Impact Evaluation Report, which uses the methodologies detailed in the Handbook to evaluate results to date from New York City’s benchmarking policy, LL84. The report finds that between 2010 and 2013—the first four years of LL84—buildings covered by the ordinance reduced their energy use by 5.7% and lowered their GHG emissions by 8.3%, and that the benchmarking efforts directly created 39 jobs as well another roughly 7,000 jobs created through the resulting energy-efficiency activities. These figures are particularly encouraging given that during the same period the gross domestic product in New York City grew by 4.2% and the cost of electricity fell by 8.4%; despite these trends, covered buildings still reduced their energy use. Furthermore, the report notes that awareness of building energy performance is growing in New York City, and that building energy use information is playing an increasingly important role in real estate decisions.

These encouraging results—which were derived from the methodologies outlined in the Handbook suggests that market change from  benchmarking policies and programs is underway and expected to grow. As more jurisdictions around the country recognize the value of benchmarking and use it to better understand and optimize their buildings’ energy use, they can leverage the Handbook to analyze the impact of their policies and programs.

Farmers try controlled drainage to keep water, nutrients in place

Read the full story in Corn & Soybean Digest.

Too much or too little water accounts for about 67% of the risk in growing corn and soybeans. That risk could be dramatically cut with controlled drainage. On flatter soils, water tables can be raised and lowered with structures inserted into tile lines. The structures double up on tile functions, backing water up in a field when the crop needs it, as well as draining it when there’s too much water. The practice can be applied to both existing tile systems and new tile systems – holding water in the profile during dry times and releasing it in wet springs and before harvest.

Webinar: Environmental Benefits of Organic Agriculture: Biodiversity

June 17, 2015 1 pm CDT
For more information:

Organic systems enhance biodiversity at several levels. A variety of seeds and breeds are chosen for greater resistance to diseases, climate, and pests. Producers employ diverse combinations and rotations of plants and animals to increase yields and income. The maintenance and planting of natural areas within and around organic fields and the absence of chemical inputs create suitable habitats for wildlife and important pollinators and beneficial insects. This session will present scientific research examining the biodiversity benefits of organic farming practices in temperate and tropical farm systems.

This webinar is presented by USDA NRCS Science and Technology. It is the second in a four-part series exploring the environmental benefits of organic agriculture. Contact Ben Bowell, Organic Specialist, for more information about this webinar.


Developing Your Own Waste Reduction Plan

Read the full post from the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

We often share stories about businesses that are able to become landfill-free, reduce their environmental footprint or improve waste reduction. These efforts have made significant economic and environmental advancements for businesses, large and small but we have never really outlined the steps it takes to get there.

With the difficulties and rising costs of managing waste, businesses are recognizing that reducing waste ends up reducing the need for raw materials, office supplies and even equipment. Another huge benefit is the cost savings from reducing disposal costs. Businesses can achieve greater overall efficiency, a positive public image and save money.

If your business is serious about wanting to reduce its waste, the first step would be to develop a waste reduction plan. Plans can range from simple one-step recycling plans to complex strategies focusing on all aspects of operation. Whether you want to develop a simple or complex plan, here are the basic steps to get started.

New Report Offers Advice on Selling Sustainability, But Is it Right?

Read the full post at Triple Pundit.

Why is selling sustainability so difficult?

After all “sustainable products, services and behaviors are the future. They are better for business, consumers and the planet, and increasingly consumers are asking for them.”

In addition, “93 percent of global consumers want to see more of the brands they use support worthy social and/or environmental issues, and three out of four teenagers say they want to buy more sustainable products.”

This question and quotes open a new report from BSR and Futerra, aiming to provide an effective framework that marketers struggling with this challenge could use.

Low-income homeowners get free solar panels thanks to cap & trade

Read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The spread of residential solar power has been largely a middle-class affair.

Despite plunging prices in the last seven years, rooftop solar arrays remain an expensive home improvement, costing $15,000 or more. A 2013 study by the liberal research and advocacy group Center for American Progress found that 67 percent of solar arrays installed in California went to ZIP codes with a median household income between $40,000 and $90,000. Wealthier areas accounted for almost all of the rest.

A new California program, however, aims to make solar power available to lower-income families — using money from the state’s fight against global warming.