Using less energy to keep drinks cold

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Late yesterday, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed strong new standards that would reduce the energy consumed by beverage vending machines to keep drinks cold. The proposed standards would cut energy use by 25-65% relative to the least-efficient machines available now, and save money for schools, hospitals, hotels, and other businesses and institutions where beverage vending machines are used.

Demand-Side Energy Efficiency in the Final Clean Power Plan

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

Yesterday, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the final version of the Clean Power Plan—the nation’s first ever federal regulatory standards to address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. As noted by the President in a press conference on Monday afternoon, this is “the single most important step that America has ever taken in the fight against climate change.”

The final rule establishes interim and final CO2 emission performance rates for fossil fuel-fired power plants that will reduce CO2 emissions from these plants by 32% under 2005 levels by 2030. Although this final target is more ambitious than the proposed rule (which called for a 30% reduction by 2030), the rule also gives states and utilities additional time to submit plans and start making emissions reductions: initial state plans are due in September 2016, with an option to extend the deadline to 2018, and the compliance period for mandatory emissions reductions begins in 2022. During the compliance period, the performance rates will be gradually phased in to provide for a “glide path” of reductions to 2030.

One significant change in the final rule is that EPA is no longer including demand-side energy efficiency as one of the “building blocks” used to determine the CO2 emissions performance rates for existing power plants. The performance rates are now based on the emissions reductions that can be achieved through the deployment of three supply-side measures: (1) heat rate improvements in existing coal plants, (2) increased reliance on combined cycle gas units, and (3) expanded use of renewables as a substitute for fossil fuel-based generation.

Fortunately, energy efficiency can still be used as a compliance measure, and EPA expects that energy efficiency will play a major role in meeting the state targets because it is a “cost-effective and widely-available carbon reduction tool.” EPA will also provide matching funds for early investments in demand-side energy efficiency measures through the newly introduced Clean Energy Incentive Program.

Which energy efficiency policies saved the most last year?

Read the full post from ACEEE.

We are periodically asked how much different policies have saved and which policies have had the largest impact. In our recent report on energy efficiency progress over the past 35 years, we reviewed many current energy savings estimates and projections. Here I wanted to summarize which policies appear to be saving the most energy today, looking at estimated energy savings in calendar year 2014.

Webinar: Data Center Efficiency 101: What Sustainability Managers Should Know

Tue, Aug 11, 2015 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5446005703196428290

This non-technical presentation on data center energy efficiency will: 1) Explain savings opportunities in an easy-to-understand manner; 2) Empower anyone to spot ways to reduce energy costs in a data center or server room; and 3) Describe free resources you can tap for further assistance.

Recommended attendees: school administrators, energy managers, facilities managers, energy efficiency advocates, sustainability professionals, and IT managers. This webinar is sponsored by ENERGY STAR and hosted by Second Nature and AlterAction, a US EPA ENERGY STAR Technical Support Contractor.

Energy Efficiency is a Logical First Step Toward Clean Power Plan Compliance

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has a simple message: there are still bushels of low hanging fruit to be plucked for states looking to lower their carbon emissions. A 27% reduction in the U.S. power sector emissions rate is possible by implementing three well understood energy saving measures: energy savings targets, small and medium combined heat and power, and building energy codes. This is good news as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan calls for a 39% reduction in carbon emission rates for existing power plants by 2030, as compared with the 2012 baseline rate of approximately 1,650 lbs/MWh.  The ability to achieve two thirds of that goal through concrete, currently available means should make things a little easier for state regulators.

Residential energy efficiency works. Don’t make a mountain out of the E2e molehill

Read the full post from ACEEE.

The Internet has been burning up these last two days with reactions to a new academic working paper (Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program) by researchers at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and the University of California, Berkeley, associated with the E2e Project.

Let me be blunt and to the point. The “results” of this very narrowly focused and arguably conceptually flawed study are being blown out of proportion, with many news article headlines taking this one example as representative of all residential energy efficiency programs. Unfortunately, this flawed conclusion has been promoted by the Energy Policy Institute themselves in their press release and accompanying policy brief.

For those not yet familiar with this story, the authors conducted a study of one particular low-income program (the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP), as implemented in portions of one state (Michigan), and somehow ended up with the sweeping headline “Study Finds Costs of Residential Energy Efficiency Investments are Double the Benefits.”

Some of the popular press is already picking up on this theme, and the concern is that a misunderstanding (or misuse) of this study will lead to low-income families having less access to important programs that drive down their utility bills. Or worse yet, as a broad-brush attack on all types of energy efficiency programs.

Evaluation wonks will be able to point to several minor to moderate problems with the study’s assumptions and calculations. But in the interest of time, let me focus on two fundamental flaws in the study and how the results are being “spun.”

When convenience is the enemy of energy conservation

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Exciting new gadgets such as the Amazon Dash button highlights the role convenience plays in clinching customer loyalty. But there’s an unintended consequence related to convenience: overconsumption.

We know from Eco Pulse that convenience trumps the environment for many Americans, and although about 70 percent of Americans claim they’re searching for greener products, the story in our numbers is that most of them actually just want sustainability to be automatic. They’re essentially saying, “Just bake it into your products and services so I don’t have to think about it, and let me keep buying the stuff I want to buy anyway and just feel less guilty about it.”

Our counsel to many companies would be exactly that: give them what they want, bake it in and build your marketing messages around the fact that you’ve taken care of the environment on their behalf.

But that doesn’t work if we’re actually trying to get people to change their behaviors. In many cases, when we make sustainability automatic, we make conservation harder.