Tuesday, April 30th: Day At the Legislature
On Tuesday, April 30th a delegation of members of the Nevada Sustainable Energy Coalition (NSEC) will travel to Carson City to meet with key policy makers regarding energy policies being addressed in the 2013 Legislative Session. The goal of the delegation's visit is to give state policymakers valuable information regarding existing and potential policies that will directly affect economic development in the Silver State.
Buildings – which require huge amounts of energy to power their operations – are responsible for an estimated 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. And buildings in dense metropolitan areas account for a large portion of those GHG emissions due to the way city dwellers live, work and travel. But several cities are using energy efficiency as a relatively fast, easy way to reduce energy consumption, pollution and GHG emissions, as well as to save money and improve quality of life for residents.
Although many local governments want to increase the efficiency of their city buildings, barriers stand in the way of energy-efficient upgrades. These barriers range from a lack of transparency in energy consumption to the "split-incentive" problem in which tenants don't share energy costs equally with their landlords.
In an attempt to solve some or all of these barriers, the following cities passed local laws and ordinances that promote energy efficiency:
In 2007, New York City rolled out a major sustainability effort called PlaNYC, which contained one of the most comprehensive sets of commercial building laws in the country under the Greater, Greener Buildings Plan. These laws are aimed at the city’s largest existing buildings, because they are responsible for 45% of citywide GHG emissions.
California – especially San Francisco – has long been a leader in promoting energy efficiency. After California passed a statewide benchmarking law in 2007, San Francisco sought to push even further with the Existing Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance.
In 2008, the Austin City Council passed the Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance as a part of reaching the goals stated in the city’s Climate Protection Plan, which is one of the most ambitious in the world.
Within the NSEC energy efficiency committee, called the EE plank, we decided to take a look at commercial benchmarking. Information and transparency are two of the most important factors when promoting energy efficiency. Benchmarking is the process where building owners and operators use a tool, such as the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, to not only measure their building’s energy and water use, but also to track it over time in order to account for efficiency upgrades in future scores. Cities from New York and San Francisco to Austin are moving forward in this area.
Taking into account the current Nevada economic situation, it was decided to start with a pilot initiative. With Matt Weinman at the lead, interested NSEC members met with representatives of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. The goal was to discuss Commercial Building Benchmarking and how the municipalities might participate in a pilot program to evaluate the possibilities of future state-wide policies, which could lead to job creation, energy saving for building owners and GHG reduction. All three city representatives agreed to work with NSEC on this initiative.
NSEC members are now drafting a strategy to implement this dream project. If you would like to learn more, please contact Matt Weinman at firstname.lastname@example.org!
As a result of Monica Brett’s excellent influence and connections, the Executive Committee of NSEC recently had a wonderful opportunity to engage with Nancy Sutley, who not only leads the White House Council on Environmental Quality but also is the President's principal environmental advisor. With a background in California energy policy, she was keen to know about our Coalition and keep us abreast of developments in Washington.
During our meeting, NSEC members had a chance to introduce their respective organizations, scopes of work and their own ideas and concerns. Chairwoman Sutley then outlined the administration's top desire to link policy to the field and that this type of outreach was crucial to successful outcomes.
Understanding that the most important outcome for NSEC is an ability to direct policy in a manner which supports our mission to "develop policies and encourage investments in green businesses to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation with the goal of creating jobs and stimulating economic development for a sustainable future", Chairwoman Sutley left with four recommendations: 1) encourage foundations to engage with troops on the ground for sustainable funding; 2) take whatever funding the federal government has left on energy efficiency, renewables and green buildings and use it for public outreach; 3) help to make sure our state has the infrastructure to complete projects and sustain them; and 4) keep linking policy to the field by engaging us.
The 2012 Convene for Green Conference was well attended, informative and inspiring. For the past 2 years, Convene for Green has united Nevada stakeholders around a common purpose and unified plan to further economic, environmental, and social regional sustainability goals.
Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, current Mayor, Carolyn Goodman and Green Chips Chair and MGM Resorts Chief Sustainability Officer, Cindy Ortega, welcomed attendees.
The keynote speaker was Daniel Wallach, Executive Director and Founder of Greensburg GreenTown, a non-profit organization that conceptualized and helped lead the sustainable rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas following the tornado that wiped out the town in 2007. Today, the tiny two square mile community in the middle of rural Kansas in an internationally recognized model of a sustainably built community.
Senator Harry Reid issued an 18-page report today that reviews Nevada’s renewable energy milestones, projects that are in process, and actions that need to be taken to assure that Nevada realizes its potential to be a leader in renewable energy.
There are several important themes contained in Senator Reid’s report, which is entitled “Playing to Win in Clean Energy.” Perhaps the most important theme is the need to take a long-run view to take consistent steps to build a strong foundation “to broaden Nevada’s economy so that we are better positioned to grow and succeed in the coming decades.” “[M]any people have advocated for policies that would derail investment in Nevada’s clean energy resources because they want to shift the nation’s attention away from clean energy and maintain the status quo.”
In case you were wondering whether the mission of NSEC can produce results, check out this article from sustainablebusiness.com about what is happening in North Carolina. Thanks to Monica Brett for bringing this great article to our attention.
On Friday, February 10 at UNLV’s School of Architecture, a crowd gathered to celebrate the fact that UNLV has been selected as one of twenty teams to compete in the 2013 Solar Decathlon, an international competition to design and build an approximately 800 square foot home that will aim to be net zero energy.
The home will be constructed and tested at the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA. The design integrates sustainability into the built environment and incorporates all of the high-tech opportunities (smart walls, smart ECS interfaces, solar thermal, PV, etc.) without focusing the design solely on these systems.
On January 20, 2012, the White House Business Council hosted a Nevada delegation to gather information from the business community about how the administration can help the economy and the green community. Although Nevada was one of the last delegations to visit the White House, NSEC Program Committee Chair Monica Brett enlightened the gathering with information and insight that none of the previous visitors provided.
Monica explained, “[W]hen it comes to creating a green industry, just funding training and technology does nothing to drive the market. The 99% does not know enough to feel comfortable buying green products and services. All the new technologies in the world will not on their own resonate with consumers without marketing and education.”