New Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Toolkit

Screenshot of CELICA toolkit.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Initiative recently released the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities (CELICA) Toolkit, which provides materials to help program administrators reduce energy burden for low-income communities by enhancing and expanding upon work funded through utility, state, or federal programs. These materials are the product of CELICA’s two-year collaboration with more than 30 partners from the government, utility, and nonprofit sectors, with support from national technical assistance partners. The materials include CELICA partner model programs, case studies, templates, and solution examples related to both program development and design. Access the toolkit to learn more, and join the webinar Wednesday, August 14, from 3–4 p.m. Eastern Time to hear from CELICA partners and learn how they overcame key barriers and developed targeted low-income energy solutions.

Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation for Resilience: Withstanding Grid Outages for Less

Photo of two police cars and an American flag behind.

Many communities across the United States experience extreme weather-related events that lead to disruptions in electric service. In 2017 alone, the nation experienced droughts, floods, freezes, hurricanes, and wildfires that cumulatively cost more than $300 billion in damages and led to longer and more frequent disruptions in power. A new resource, Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation for Resilience: Withstanding Grid Outages for Less, describes how energy efficiency can be integrated into planning for microgrids for resilience at critical public facilities, lowering the cost of a new system that can sustain operation during a grid outage. It includes real-world examples as well as modeled scenarios to illustrate how efficiency can achieve energy and cost savings. Download the resource.

Commercial PACE Resources Now Available

Commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) is one of the fastest growing financing mechanisms in the country. To fulfill the technical assistance needs for this up-and-coming financing mechanism, EERE released two C-PACE resources that highlight best practices from established programs and address key stakeholder issues in the C-PACE process.

  • C-PACE Working Group Year in Review (2018–2019) – Showcases resources and opportunities for all state and local governments interested in learning more about C-PACE and highlights energy savings and investments the C-PACE Working Group, a cohort of state and local governments working together to learn about, launch, and refine C-PACE financing programs, is working to achieve. The goal of these efforts is to stimulate $60 million in C-PACE investments by 2022.
  • Commercial PACE Financing and the Special Assessment Process: Understanding Roles and Managing Risks for Local Governments – Addresses two specific barriers local governments may face regarding C-PACE programs:
    • Uncertainty about the likelihood of tax foreclosure on properties in default of C-PACE payments and the risks local governments bear
    • Uncertainty about the staff labor commitment associated with administering the program, including the execution of the special tax assessment process.

Toolkit Helps Rural K–12 Schools Improve Energy Efficiency Knowledge

The Rural K–12 School Facility Workforce Development and Training Toolkit is a collection of materials, trainings, and certification courses for building operators of rural K–12 school facilities who seek actionable steps to improve their energy efficiency knowledge and create comfortable, cost-saving, and energy-efficient learning environments. The toolkit features descriptions of common energy efficiency trainings and certifications that building operators of rural K–12 schools can take advantage of, listing all of the important information in one place. For more details, access the toolkit.

New Interactive Web Platform Helps Users Understand Household Energy Characteristics

Map showing the energy burden data tool.

The Low-income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool helps stakeholders make data-driven decisions about energy goals and program planning by improving their understanding of low-income and moderate-income household energy characteristics. Whereas a previous version of the tool was spreadsheet based, the new version of the LEAD Tool is easily accessible with a web browser and provides an interactive platform that allows users to build their own national, state, city, or county profiles. Such profiles include estimated low-income household energy characteristics associated with various income levels (now including analysis using Federal Poverty Level-based income as well as Area Median Income models) and housing types, vintages, and tenure. The tool includes 2016 data updates, data on Puerto Rico, and interactive maps showcasing energy burden across multiple regions. Whereas the previous version allowed a look at one local area, the new version also allows users to create their own customized profile and compare differences among several specific geographies at the same time. In addition, users will be able to save their profiles, download visuals and data, and share their customized profiles and comparisons with anyone via an auto-generated web link. Launch the LEAD Tool.

Residential Energy Efficiency for Local Governments

In the United States, residential buildings account for 21% of total energy consumption. Household expenditures for energy exceed $219 billion per year, with annual household costs averaging nearly $1,900 per year. Local governments that have established energy savings goals can develop and implement a range of programs and strategies to reduce residential energy use in their communities. A resource guide, Residential Energy Efficiency for Local Governments, can help local governments develop and implement policies and programs for improving the energy efficiency of single-family and multifamily homes in their communities. It highlights replicable programs demonstrated by communities across the country and provides informational resources, including analytical tools and model programs for a wide range of communities and demographic regions, to support successful program development and implementation. Check out the resource guide.

Achieving Results with Energy Efficiency: EPA's New Guidebook for Energy Efficiency Measurement and Verification

Jurisdictions around the country use proven energy efficiency policies and programs to meet electricity demand, support economic growth, and avoid generation and pollution from power plants. Every U.S. state currently administers some type of demand-side energy efficiency program, while 25 have adopted a statewide energy efficiency resource standard and others require utilities to deliver “all cost-effective energy efficiency.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Guidebook for Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification draws from and builds on decades of state, local, and private-sector experience quantifying and verifying savings from energy efficiency projects and measures. The guidebook is designed to help state, local, and tribal air and energy officials—as well as key stakeholders such as utility energy efficiency implementers—learn about, establish, or refine their measurement and verification (M&V) approaches. The guidebook can also help air officials understand the basics of M&V and work with their energy counterparts to capture the air quality and public health benefits of these existing investments. Download the Guidebook for more information.

Success Story: Washington State Increases Energy Savings Performance Contract Projects Through an Energy Performance Management Strategy

With competitive financial assistance from the EERE’s State Energy Program, Washington created a benchmarking-to-retrofit protocol for installing energy efficiency upgrades in high-priority state-owned buildings. The protocol requires that state agencies input energy data into ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, and if a state building receives an ENERGY STAR score below 50, the agency is required to utilize the state’s Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) Program to implement energy efficiency measures. As a result of these efforts, state agencies increased benchmarking compliance from 17% to 72% in less than two years and investments in energy efficiency projects increased from $4.8 million in 2014 to $6.7 million in 2015. Read the success story.


Success Story: Energy Efficiency Site Assessments Provide Energy Savings for Pennsylvania Companies

PennTAP onsite visit a U.S. Silica plant

An investment from the DOE EERE’s State Energy Program helped the Pennsylvania Energy Programs Office provide energy efficiency site assessments and retrofit recommendations to 50 Pennsylvania companies. If the recommended energy efficiency upgrades are installed, they are estimated to result in a cumulative energy savings of 7.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and almost $1 million in cost savings. One participating company, U.S. Silica, a silica sand supplier, was looking to reduce operating costs in its Mapleton plant. Through a site assessment, PennTAP recommended energy efficient lighting measures and upgrades to a sand drying system that ultimately saved 320,000 kWh of energy per year, equating to annual energy savings of $39,000 for U.S. Silica. Read the success story.

Oregon Department of Corrections Launches 2019 Energy and Water Conservation Challenges

The Oregon Department of Corrections is competing against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction in a Battle of the Buildings! On May 1, 2019, Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Oregon and Ross Correctional Institution in Ohio began competing to reduce their energy and water consumption over the next six months. The sustainability champion will be the facility that shows a greater reduction in energy and water use intensity and registers higher participation by inmates and staff in energy and water trainings. Stay tuned for results!


Thank You for Participating in State, Local, and K–12 Leadership: Unlocking Energy Affordability!

The State, Local, and K–12 Leadership: Unlocking Energy Affordability conference, held July 8–9 in Arlington, VA, was a success thanks to the participation of 60 state, local, K–12 school district, and stakeholder representatives. Interactive discussions at the event were jam-packed with peer exchanges on best practices and collaborative technical assistance planning. Thank you to all who made this event engaging and worthwhile! Stay tuned for a high-level event summary that will highlight key takeaways.

Thank You for Coming to the 2019 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit!

Photo collage of people from Better Buildings Summit.

Thanks to those of you who attended the 2019 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit. Your willingness to share your perspective, experience, and solutions was critical to the success of the Summit. We hope you left with new ideas, strategies, and connections that will help you move forward on energy efficiency.

Session presentations will be available on the Better Buildings Solution Center soon. And, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to share your Summit experience using this feedback form. Your feedback is important and helps inform future Summits. 

Stay tuned for 2020 Summit news and dates!

Infrastructure Investments in the News

PACE equity deal first in nation to combine PACE funding and an Opportunity Zone fund: PACE Equity recently completed funding $4.3 million for the construction of a new Hyatt House hotel in Rochester, Minnesota. It is notably the first Opportunity Zone fund project in the nation to include PACE funding.

Massive solar plus storage deals signed for Moapa tribe in Nevada: EDF Renewables North America and NV Energy signed a power purchase agreement for a new 200-megawatt solar farm and a 75-megawatt, 5-hour battery storage system project located on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians Reservation in Nevada.

Michigan YMCA receives $1.3 million for energy efficient upgrades: Petros PACE Finance, LLC has closed a $1.3 million C-PACE transaction to finance energy efficiency upgrades for the Battle Creek YMCA, marking the first C-PACE deal in Calhoun County, Michigan.