8 bright ideas for a cleaner future

Read the full story in Grist.

In November, OpenIDEO challenged the world to come up with new ways to achieve a renewable energy-powered future. Innovators submitted proposals of their designs and projects and got feedback from the community. The best entries were singled out for their potential effectiveness.

OpenIDEO’s Renewable Energy Challenge* — sponsored by the 11th Hour Project, which was founded by Grist board member Wendy Schmidt and also funds Grist — recently announced the top ideas from the challenge. Some are still in the planning stages, while others are further along, but all are absolutely applause-worthy. Here are the eight finalists:

Webinar: REAP Funding Opportunities for E3 Communities

Via the USDA:

As partners of the E3 framework, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants make sure you’re aware of possible funding opportunities to support your E3 activities as they pertain to rural small businesses and agricultural producers. These funding opportunities are contained in the recent modifications made to the USDA Rural Energy for America Program or REAP. The final rule that captures these modifications was published on December 29, 2014. The final rule became effective February 12, 2015.

The Energy Efficiency Improvement/Renewable Energy Systems (RES/EEI) component of the REAP program is the perfect complement to E3 Energy Audits because it provides grant and guaranteed loan funding for the integration of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements into a rural small business or agricultural producer’s operations. REAP can provide grant funding of up to $150,000 for EEI and $250,000 for RES. REAP Guaranteed loans can be up to $25 million and are eligible to be combined with a REAP grant.

We encourage you to take advantage of this exciting funding opportunity if you have recently received an E3 Energy Audit and want to take the next step toward energy efficiency or a renewable energy system that will save your business money on energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

To provide additional background on the program and to learn how agricultural producers and rural businesses can easily take advantage of REAP’s benefits, our REAP Outreach Team will host an interactive webinar, titled REAP Funding Opportunities for E3 Communities, specifically for E3 partners on Monday, March 30 from 1:00-2:30pm Eastern (12:00-1:30 Central; 11:00-12:30 Mountain; 10:00-11:30 Pacific). Please click on the following link to register for the free webinar:

Additional information on the REAP program can be found at: For further information and questions, please contact your State Energy Coordinator. A list of State Energy Coordinators can be found here:

New efficiency standards would help address heating bills of many homes in cold climates

Read the full post from the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

On the heels of a proposed rule for new efficiency standards for furnaces, late on Friday the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a proposed rule for another type of home heating equipment. While the proposed standards for boilers would save money for many consumers in cold climates, higher standards could achieve significantly greater energy savings.

Navigating the Clean Power Plan: A Template for Including Building Energy Codes in State Compliance Plans

Download the document.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan establishes state-specific targets for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. This tool is intended to help states document and claim emissions reductions resulting from the adoption of building energy codes as a means of complying with their obligations under the Clean Power Plan. It includes a discussion of the guidance and precedents relied on to develop this template, the elements states should address in order to claim emissions reduction credit for building energy codes, recommendations on how to address these elements, and a hypothetical case study of a state that includes building energy codes in its compliance plan.

Find Energy Incentives Faster and More Easily with DSIRE Open Data and Website

Via the EERE Blog.

All across the United States, homeowners and businesses are saving money by installing technologies that conserve energy and cut carbon pollution. Upgrades such as new, energy-saving appliances and rooftop photovoltaic systems also help lower the nation’s overall energy usage and reduce environmental impacts like harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

To empower more Americans to realize the benefits of clean energy technologies and solutions, government agencies offer several financial incentive programs that can reduce or defray installation or purchase costs.  In an effort to help citizens quickly find these opportunities the Energy Department established the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) 20 years ago.  The database is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University.

DSIRE — the nation’s most comprehensive information sources for renewable and efficiency incentives — enables users to pinpoint opportunities in a variety of formats including dynamic maps, charts, and tables.  The database also includes a search tool that filters incentives and policies by type, state, technology, implementing sector, and eligible sector.

Today, the Energy Department and N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center launched a new version of DSIRE that makes it even easier for citizens to find information. These improvements include:

  • expanded data accessibility with information on over 2,800 active policies and incentives for all renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies;
  • an Application Program Interface (API) freely available for download that contains all of the data on DSIRE in an easy-to-read format;
  • interactive maps so that users can customize policy maps in real-time based on their preferences and needs; and
  • enhanced search that allows users to find incentives by zip code.

In addition to these exciting features, the new site includes a more streamlined, user-friendly design that highlights DSIRE’s tools and services.

These DSIRE upgrades contribute to the White House Open Data Initiative, which is designed to fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth. The new DSIRE API and open data will enable private-sector entrepreneurs, technologists, and innovators to build new tools, services, and infrastructure that advance a clean energy economy.

Go to to explore the improved features and follow DSIRE on Twitter and Facebook. Also, search our Rebates & Incentives tool to find even more tax-saving opportunities. For questions or comments about the new DSIRE, please contact Steve Capanna at Steve.Capanna@EE.Doe.Gov.