EPA Honors 2014 Energy Star Partners of the Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are honoring 127 organizations for their commitment to protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. Recipients of the 2014 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award include Des Moines Public School District; KB Home; Meritage Homes Corporation; PepsiCo., Inc.; Sears Holdings Corporation; and Samsung.

“EPA applauds this year’s Energy Star Partner of the Year Award winners, who have demonstrated innovative strategies to help their customers, partners and stakeholders save energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Their commitment to saving energy helps fight climate change while also helping their bottom line.”

“Each year, Energy Star partners create jobs, protect the environment and raise the bar for the home improvement industry through their dedication to energy efficiency,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. “This national program helps homeowners by providing access to innovative home improvement solutions and enabling American families to save money by saving energy.”

The winners were selected from 16,000 Energy Star partners, including manufacturers, retailers, public schools, hospitals, real estate companies, and home builders, for their dedication to protecting the environment through greater energy efficiency.

Organizations are recognized in the following categories:

Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence: The 72 Sustained Excellence winners continue to exhibit exceptional leadership year after year in the Energy Star program while remaining dedicated to environmental protection through superior energy efficiency.

Partner of the Year: Forty-five organizations are receiving the Partner of the Year award for strategically and comprehensively managing their energy use. These organizations promote Energy Star products and practices in their own operations, in addition to providing efficient products and services to consumers and within their community.

Partner of the Year–Climate Communications: The 10 Climate Communications winners have raised their customers’ awareness of the impacts of climate change. These partners have created communications that encourage their customers to combat climate change with the help of Energy Star and emphasize how energy-efficient behaviors have a positive effect on the environment.

Excellence: Nine winners are receiving awards in part for their superior efforts in the Home Performance with Energy Star program. The remaining organizations are receiving Excellence Awards for specific activities to promote energy-efficient products, homes, or buildings.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the Energy Star label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 office buildings, schools and hospitals have earned the Energy Star label. Since the Energy Star program began, American families and businesses have saved $297 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions with help from Energy Star.

Complete list of winners: www.energystar.gov/awardwinners

EPA seeks comments on revision of EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples

EPA is making available the Revised Draft – EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples for public input, during the May 5 – June 5, 2014 public comment period. This Revised Draft of the Policy incorporates the input the Agency received on the Working Draft of the Policy from tribes and the public during the November 2012 – February 2013 tribal consultation period and the separate January – February 2013 public participation comment period.

Energy Department Recognizes Landlords, Tenants Working Together to Save Energy in Commercial Buildings

The Energy Department today honored 14 organizations, naming them as 2014 Green Lease Leaders for their commitment to reducing energy waste and increasing efficiency in commercial buildings. These companies have demonstrated their commitment to energy efficiency, incorporating lease clauses that reinforce energy-efficiency choices, facilitating access to the energy bill data necessary for building benchmarking and encouraging cooperation on environmental initiatives.

Green leases (also known as aligned leases, high performance leases, or energy-efficient leases) align the financial and energy incentives of building owners and tenants, allowing them to work together to save money, conserve resources, and ensure the efficient operation of buildings.  These green leases have been applied across nearly every major property type, including offices, retail spaces, and manufacturing sites.

Through the Green Lease Leaders program, the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Alliance works with a wide variety of companies to incorporate green lease language into agreements across their portfolios and provide real-world, replicable leasing examples that can be used by others. The Green Lease Leader designation signifies a company or brokerage team that has successfully implemented green lease language into new or existing leases.

The following companies were recognized:

  • Akridge
  • Brandywine Realty Trust
  • The Bullitt Foundation
  • Empire State Realty Trust
  • Jamestown, L.P.
  • Kilroy Realty Corporation
  • Kimco Realty Corporation
  • Liberty Property Trust
  • Oxford Properties
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
  • Regency Centers
  • Government Properties Income Trust
  • The Tower Companies
  • Unico Properties

Access to Public Transportation a Top Criterion for Millennials When Deciding Where to Live, New Survey Shows

Read the full story from the Rockefeller Foundation.

A large majority of Millennials want access to better transit options and the ability to be less reliant on a car, according to a new survey of Millennials in 10 major U.S. cities, released today by The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America.  More than half (54%) of Millennials surveyed say they would consider moving to another city if it had more and better options for getting around, and 66% say that access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria they would weight when deciding where to live.

Blight To Bright: Superfund Site Gets First Ever Utility Scale Solar Farm

Read the full story at Clean Technica.

Yes, the newly completed Hanwha Q CELLS utility-scale solar farm at a Superfund Site in Indianapolis is the first of its kind and it illustrates a point we’ve been hammering on for a while now: solar power lets you extract energy and value from already-built-upon sites, even blighted Superfund sites. That’s quite a contrast to the current practice of extracting coal by blowing the tops off pristine mountains in rural Appalachia.

EPA Announces List of Top 100 U.S. Organizations Using Renewable Energy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Green Power Partnership has released an updated list of the Top 100 organizations that are choosing to use electricity from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar power.

“By using green power, these companies and organizations are showing that business can flourish while taking meaningful steps to reduce carbon pollution,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. “Making cleaner choices to power our communities, institutions and businesses reduces the pollution that contributes to climate change, protects America’s health and environment, and supports continued growth in the green power sector.”

Intel Corporation continues its seven-year run as the nation’s largest voluntary user of green power, meeting 100 percent of its electricity load with renewable resources. Other technology companies in the top 10 include Microsoft Corporation, Google Inc., and Apple Inc. Apple increased its annual green power use by nearly 100 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), moving from No. 11 to No. 8 on the list. In total, the combined green power usage of these Top 100 Partners amounts to nearly 24 billion kWh annually, which represents close to 83 percent of the green power commitments made by all EPA Green Power Partners. The list is calculated based on annual green power usage (in kilowatt-hours) by Green Power Partners.

The top 10 partners appearing on the Top 100 list include:

  1. Intel Corporation (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  2. Kohl’s Department Stores (Menomonee Falls, Wis.)
  3. Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, Wash.)
  4. Whole Foods Market (Austin, Texas)
  5. Google Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.)
  6. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Bentonville, Ark.)
  7. Staples (Framingham, Mass.)
  8. Apple Inc. (Cupertino, Calif.)
  9. City of Houston, Texas
  10. U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, D.C.)

In addition, for the eighth year in a row, EPA is encouraging increased green power use among higher education institutions through the College and University Green Power Challenge. Out of the 33 competing conferences, the Big 10 is this year’s conference champion, collectively using more than 309 million kWh of green power annually and avoiding carbon pollution equal to that produced by the electricity use of more than 30,000 American homes. The University of Pennsylvania continues to be the top individual school in the challenge for the seventh year in a row, purchasing more than 200 million kWh of wind power annually – more green power than any of the 78 other competing schools.

EPA also recently announced that in support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Green Power Partnership is launching the On-site Renewables Challenge, with a goal to double the use of on-site green power by partners by the end of the decade. As part of the Challenge, EPA invites partners to increase the amount of energy they produce and use from on-site renewables by the end of the decade.

Green power is a subset of renewable energy and represents the renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

As part of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, more than 1,200 organizations are purchasing more than 28 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, avoiding carbon pollution equal to that created by the electricity use of more than 2.4 million American homes. The partnership provides quarterly updated lists of partners using green power in the following categories: retail, technology and telecommunications, local government, and K-12 schools, among others.


“How’s My Waterway” Now More User-Friendly: App Lets Users Check Health of Waterways Anywhere in the US

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an enhanced version of “How’s My Waterway,” an app and website to help people find information on the condition of thousands of lakes, rivers and streams across the continental United States from their smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

The How’s My Waterway app and website, http://www.epa.gov/mywaterway, uses GPS technology or a user-entered zip code or city name to provide information about the quality of local water bodies. The new version of the site includes data on local drinking water sources, watersheds and efforts to protect waterways, as well as a map-oriented version of “How’s My Waterway” designed for museum kiosks, displays and touch screens, available at: http://watersgeo.epa.gov/mywaterway/kiosk/.

“Communities and neighborhoods across the U.S. want to know that their local lakes, rivers and streams are healthy and safe to enjoy with their families, and providing that information is a priority for EPA,” said acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water Nancy Stoner. “The enhanced version of ‘How’s My Waterway’ provides easy, user-friendly access to the health of the places we swim, fish and boat, where we get our drinking water, and what is being done to curb water pollution. People can get this information whether researching at a desktop or standing streamside looking at a smart phone.”

The enhanced version includes new data and improvements based on user feedback to the original site, including localized information on:

  • The waterways that supply drinking water to communities.
  • The health of watersheds and organizations working to protect watersheds.
  • Permits that limit pollutant discharge into waterways.
  • Efforts to restore waterways to protect and improve fish habitats by the National Fish Habitat Partnerships.

Here’s how to use “How’s My Waterway”:

  • SEARCH: Go to http://www.epa.gov/mywaterwayand allow GPS technology to identify the nearest streams, rivers or lakes or enter a zip code or city name.
  • REVIEW: Instantly receive a list of waterways within five miles of the search location. Each waterway is identified as unpolluted, polluted or unas­sessed. A map option offers the user a view of the search area with the results color-coded by assessment status.
  • DISCOVER: Once a specific lake, river or stream is selected, the How’s My Waterway app and website provides information on the type of pollution reported for that waterway and what has been done by EPA and the states to reduce it. Additional reports and technical information is available for many waterways.Read simple descriptions of each type of water pollutant, including pollutant type, likely sources and potential health risks.
  • EXPLORE: Related links page connects users to popular water information on beaches, drinking water and fish and wildlife habitat based on a user’s search criteria.

Energy Department Announces $10 Million for Technologies to Produce Advanced Biofuel Products from Biomass

The Energy Department today announced up to $10 million in funding to advance the production of advanced biofuels, substitutes for petroleum-based feedstocks, and bioproducts made from renewable, non-food-based biomass, such as agricultural residues and woody biomass. This supports the Department’s efforts to make drop-in biofuels more accessible and affordable, as well as meet the cost target equivalent of $3.00 per gallon of gasoline by 2022.

The Energy Department encourages industry to invest in the production of cost-competitive, advanced biofuels and bioproducts from renewable, abundant biomass.  Advancing and commercializing cost-competitive biofuels will help the Department work toward its goal of reducing current petroleum consumption in the United States by approximately 30%, and, in turn, enhance U.S. national security and reduce carbon emissions.  For more information and application requirements, visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange  website.

A Consumer’s Guide to Energy-Efficient and Healthy Homes

This consumer guide describes how to improve a home’s energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, which can help reduce heating and cooling costs, save energy, and improve occupants’ health and comfort levels. Adopting energy-efficiency measures can also reduce both a home’s carbon footprint and the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. This guide summarizes how homeowners and renters can make their homes energy efficient and healthy. It provides links to websites, including those of federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for more detailed information on the different topics.

The information in this guide can be applied to both new construction and renovations. Although renters may be reluctant to undertake the more expensive energy-efficiency improvements discussed in this guide, this information can still help them discuss energy-efficiency measures with their landlords. This guide, however, does not cover systems needed for large multifamily buildings; information about such systems can be found at some of the websites cited in this guide.

EPA Publishes 19th Annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 19th annual report of overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today, showing a 3.4 percent decrease in 2012 from 2011. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is submitted annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

The major contributors to the decrease in emissions from 2011-2012 were the decrease in energy consumption across all sectors in the U.S. economy, and the decrease in carbon intensity for electricity generation due to fuel switching from coal to natural gas. Other factors included a decrease in transportation sector emissions attributed to an increase in fuel efficiency across different transportation modes and limited new demand for passenger transportation.

Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, leading to increased heat-related illnesses and deaths; worsening the air pollution that can cause asthma attacks and other respiratory problems; and expanding the ranges of disease-spreading insects. Climate change is also affecting the frequency and intensity of heat waves, droughts, and other extreme weather events.

Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is taking steps to address carbon pollution from the power and transportation sectors, and to improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses and factories. This includes increasing fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks for model years 2012-2025 that, over the lifetime of these vehicles, will save Americans more than $1.7 trillion. In addition, we are increasing energy efficiency through the Energy Star program that saved Americans more than $26 billion in utility bills in 2012.

According to the report, GHG emissions in 2012 showed a 10 percent drop below 2005 levels. Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2012 were equivalent to 6,526 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

EPA prepares the annual report in collaboration with other federal agencies and after gathering comments from stakeholders across the country. In addition to tracking U.S. GHG emissions, the inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere through the uptake of carbon in forests, vegetation, soils, and other natural processes (called carbon “sinks”).

More on the greenhouse gas inventory report: