States, Cities Offer Green Initiatives, Incentives

May 1, 2008
Many energy and water saving initiatives are local, coming from state and municipal governments, such as Austin, Texas, or the City of Chicago, and on the state level in California and Florida.

Many energy and water saving initiatives are local, coming from state and municipal governments, such as Austin, Texas, or the City of Chicago, and on the state level in California and Florida.

Chicago is working on a climate change program that extends to large residential buldings. California is looking at a goal to make all buildings be net-zero energy by 2030.

Thanks to Danfoss' North American operation, we've assembled this page to provide you with an overview, a snapshot, of five state initiatives and two municipal efforts.

Organization Initiative Brief Description Application Status More Info U.S. State InitiativesAlliance to Save Energy (ASE) State Energy Efficiency Policy Index Every state is doing something to promote energy efficiency through laws and regulations. ASE's web site provides policy pages in areas such as appliance standards, energy efficiency funds, transportation initiatives, building codes, public benefits funds, legislation, cap and trade programs, and tax incentives. In addition to the state policy pages, ASE's web site offers state-by-state tips to help consumers save money on their energy bills year-round. State laws and regulations are constantly changing, but you can stay current by subscribing to ASE's State Energy Efficiency Policy Bulletin. This monthly electronic newsletter tracks legislative and regulatory energy efficiency policies, features a guest column highlighting energy efficiency innovations in the states, and includes an update on building code activity from the Responsible Energy Codes Alliance. California Energy Commission (CEC) Zero Net Energy Proposal The proposal has three programmatic initiatives:
  1. All new residential construction in California will be net-zero energy by 2020.
  2. All new commercial construction in California will be net-zero energy by 2030.
  3. The HVAC industry will be reshaped to ensure optimal equipment performance. (Net-zero energy means buildings will use no more energy over the course of a year than they produce through solar power or other energy production technologies.)
If adopted, the proposal will have far-reaching implications for equipment manufacturers, distributors, contractors, utilities, building owners and homeowners, to name just a few stakeholders. The proposal was issued by Commissioner Dian Grueneich of the California Public Utilities Commission and Kim Malcolm, an administrative law judge in California. California Energy Commission (CEC) Title 24 — Building Energy Efficiency Standards Revised in October 2005, the Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Non-residential Buildings were established in 1978 in response to a legislative mandate to reduce California's energy consumption. The standards are updated periodically to allow consideration and possible incorporation of new energy efficiency technologies and methods. The standards affect the design of the building envelope and HVAC, water-heating and lighting systems. The non-residential application covers hotels, motels and high-rise residential buildings (those higher than three stories), while the residential application addresses low-rise buildings (three stories or fewer). The new standards go into effect in 2009. Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) Financial Incentives for Energy Efficiency Every state, as well as the District of Columbia, offers financial incentives to improve energy efficiency. Many state utilities provide incentives in the form of rebates, grants and loans. In Minnesota alone, there are 72 different utility rebate programs. Washington and California aren't far behind, with 62 and 60 utility rebate programs, respectively. The financial incentives cut across a variety of markets: residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, agricultural and non-profit. The incentives apply to numerous energy-efficient technologies, from heat pumps and air-conditioners to lighting, controls, motors and variable-speed drives. New financial incentives are being developed almost daily nationwide. Check the DSIRE web site for the most current information. State of Florida Serve to Preserve Summit on Global Climate Change The summit, hosted by Gov. Charlie Crist in July 2007, highlighted the state's initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase solar energy use and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Florida will develop a carbon scorecard for all state agencies and make state buildings and vehicles more energy efficient. The state will also establish a 21-member Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change that will work to strengthen existing public-private partnerships and voluntary participation. What's more, FPL Group, one of the nation's largest electric utilities, will build a 300-megawatt solar-energy facility in Florida. Initiatives are under way across the state. City InitiativesAustin, TX Austin Energy Green Building Program and Power Saver Program The green building program offers consulting, resources and education to help consumers and building owners build an environmentally sound home and workplace. The Power Saver program benefits consumers whose homes are more than 10 years old. As part of the green building program, homeowners can take advantage of a “Green by Design” workshop, while building professionals can rate projects based on energy efficiency. The Power Saver program offers a “Home Performance with Energy Star Rebate,” which covers up to 20 percent of the cost of certain improvements — up to $1,575. Austin Energy claims to operate “the nation's most successful utility-sponsored sustainable building program.” Chicago, IL Climate change programs The city, in conjunction with the Clinton Foundation, recently announced two climate change programs aimed at helping Chicago homeowners and owners of commercial buildings to modernize their buildings to reduce energy use. The city's Merchandise Mart will be the first commercial building to participate in the Clinton Foundation's Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program. Chicago is one of the first cities to implement the program. The Chicago implementation is unique because it extends the retrofit program beyond commercial buildings to make residential properties of more than 25 units eligible for city funds. The Chicago implementation builds off existing city programs, which — as part of the Preservation Compact initiated by the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation — are retrofitting affordable housing developments of between four and 25 units.

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