A six-year anniversary may seem rather mundane. This fall, The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council will mark that milestone with no fanfare. In 2012, a dozen visionary volunteers agreed to launch the VAEEC with little more than ideas, aspirations, time and some funding.
Fast-forward, this year – 2018 – has been a great year for energy efficiency in Virginia. What comes next is up to those who choose to get involved and set a course for 2019 and beyond.
As the VAEEC Board begins to plan for next year and beyond, we rely on our committees to help guide our direction. We encourage all of our members to jump in where they want to make their contributions.
The VAEEC has three, year-round committees that are open to all current VAEEC members:
- Education & Events
We also have a temporary committee to choose award winners for the Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards each fall.
You can learn all about each of these committees on the VAEEC website.
Getting involved in VAEEC activities now affords members the opportunity to engage with VAEEC on a deeper level with the potential to join the Board next spring. We will have at least two open seats to fill during annual elections next spring, and we will look to committee members to fill those roles.
To indicate your interest to be on one of the committees, please send an email to Jenn Fisher at Jenn@vaeec.org. (Please make sure you are a VAEEC member of good standing with dues current.)
VAEEC will begin accepting resumes in early 2019 for our open Board seats, so be on the lookout for announcements in our January and February e-newsletters.
October 5, 2018
We are less than a month away from Energy Efficiency Day 2018 taking place on Wednesday, October 5th! In lieu of this celebratory day approaching quickly, we would like to share a few ways to individually participate in energy conservation. One simple way to take action is by posting and promoting the EE Day graphics on your favorite social media platform to encourage others to join the #EEDay2018 conversation. Another great way to get involved is to ask your mayor, governor, or other elected officials to officially recognize Energy Efficiency Day through the signing of a proclamation. The official EE Day webpage provides editable templates for submission, as well as simple ways to reduce your energy bill. A majority of the steps taken toward energy efficiency are minor changes, yet have a huge impact. For example, switching to LED lighting, washing clothes with cold water, air drying dishes, turning off unnecessary appliances, and more.
Del. Ware observing insulation being blown into the walls of this single family home.
Last year in celebration of Energy Efficiency Day, we partnered with two of our members, Virdiant and Project:HOMES, to host site visits Virginia two legislators, Del. Yancey in Newport News and Del. Ware in Goochland County. The site visits offered the state legislators the opportunity to see what energy efficiency looks like in action, in their very own districts and to learn how the policies they implement (or not) directly impact their constituents. At the end of both tours, each legislator heard from VAEEC’s staff about the role they, and other VA decision-makers, play in continuing these programs. Read all about both site visits here.
In honor of Energy Efficiency Day 2018, we are planning to work with our members again to host legislative site tours similar to last year. Stay tuned for more details.
Join us in making this October even more special than the last by supporting our EE day efforts, as well as accomplishing some of your own!
Our Fall Meeting & Awards Ceremony is coming up quickly and it could not be a better time for VAEEC to host a raffle for our members! We will be raffling off two $25 Amazon gift cards to new members and current members who recruit new members to join before November 13th! Here’s how it will work:
New 2018 Members: if you join VAEEC by November 13th your organization will be entered into the raffle. In order to be eligible for the raffle, the organization must have joined at an Associate Level membership or higher. This includes any organization that joined VAEEC at an Associate Level or higher since January 1, 2018!
Recruiting Members: Current members who recruit a new member at the Associate level or higher before November 13th, will be entered into an additional raffle! To qualify, the new recruit must enter your name on their application under “Were you referred by a current VAEEC member?”. There is no limit to how many times you will be entered into the raffle; the more referrals, the more entries!
The winners will be announced at the Fall Meeting & Awards Ceremony. The event will take place on November 14th from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm at University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center. Registration for this event will open on October 1st. Good luck!
At the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, we strive to provide our members with a platform to connect and network with one another. With a wide diversity of skills and expertise, there is no telling all of the amazing things our members can conceptualize and achieve when they come together.
One example of a great collaboration that has formed within the VAEEC community is between Community Housing Partners (CHP) and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC). After initial conversations at our Spring 2017 Meeting, Chase Counts (CHP) connected ODEC with the state weatherization agency (DHCD), another VAEEC member, and other weatherization agencies, including fellow VAEEC-member project:Homes.
“It was a happy coincidence that I happened to sit next to Catherine Powers and Erin Puryear with ODEC at the VAEEC Spring 2017 Meeting. After getting to know one another, we decided to arrange a formal meeting soon after. We realized we had shared interests in providing their member’s services and we complemented each other’s capabilities. The conversations grew in scope to include other weatherization agencies in Virginia that provided services to several other ODEC member cooperatives. The VAEEC Spring Meeting definitely helped cultivate this partnership and catalyzed this pilot program,” Chase Counts told us.
As a result, ODEC is now working with CHP and projectHomes, as well as three other Virginia agencies, to conduct an income-based weatherization pilot with five of the ODEC distribution cooperatives. This program will expand in 2019 to include the broader Virginia footprint of cooperatives and agencies.
“ODEC has wanted to work with its cooperatives and member-owners for quite some time on a weatherization program, and with the introduction to DHCD through Chase, we are able to make it happen,” said Catherine Powers, VP of Forecasting and Member Services at ODEC.
So what are you waiting for? Click here to learn more about our membership program and all the great benefits that come along with it!
Since the end of the General Assembly session back in March, there have been quite a few updates on utility energy efficiency programs. Some of you may have attended our spring breakout session on utility programs.
VAEEC members can get a deeper dive into these updates by visiting our Member Resources page. From there, you can read all of our blog posts during the session, in case you missed them the first time and can scan a newly-updated presentation we created just for members.
If you have trouble accessing the Member Resources page, please contact our Program Coordinator, Jessica Greene Jessica@vaeec.org.
If you are not a member but would like to receive this same, in-depth information, we hope you will consider joining today.
VAEEC member Charlottesville is encouraging local businesses to participate in the Charlottesville Better Buisness Challenge, being offered this year by the Charlottesville Climate Collaborative. Started by a partnership with Better World Betty and LEAP (the Local Energy Alliance Program- a VAEEC Associate Member) in 2010, the Challenge has provided Charlottesville organizations with a way to participate in a friendly competition while cutting energy costs and leaving a positive impact on their community. From local schools and businesses such as Albemarle Baking Company to national, larger brands like Whole Foods and Plow and Hearth, the Better Business Challenge is fit to serve organizations of all sizes.
This Challenge is open to veterans of the green business game as well as people who may just be warming up to the idea. It provides an entry point to a fast-growing network of businesses who not only care about their bottom line but also their community impact. Last round’s 78 participants saved an average of $185,000 per year while taking 4,270 cars off the road, reducing CO2 by 1,823 tons!
So, why do businesses join? Business leaders across the nation have begun to realize that when you optimize energy use and transition to renewable energy, it just makes good business sense. For example, Plow and Hearth saved over $93,000/year in electricity bills with a lighting overhaul and Virginia Eagle Distributing saved $33,000 annually after instituting recycling and installing solar panels on tractor trailers.
The Challenge is easy and flexible to suit the busy schedule of companies and businesses. Every player is equipped with the tools necessary to cut costs and increase their bottom line. Participation grants access:
- to an Energy Scorecard with 46 action items to help reduce and improve energy use
- an Energy Catalyst Toolkit which is an easy-to-use digital toolkit to tailor the solution to your business needs
- catered “Lunch n’ Learns” that highlight key topics to stay ahead of the curve
- a challenge coach who works with your schedule to get things done, and
- an energy walkthrough to uncover further opportunities to save.
In addition, during the last Challenge, there were 35+ positive publicity outreaches to potential customers, members, and supporters. Participant businesses also received 850,000 local audiences “touches” through social media and other channels about their actions for becoming more green.
Any business, non-profit, or church located in Fluvanna, Louisa, Albemarle, Augusta, Nelson, and Greene County may register and participate in the Challenge. Click here to find out more about how to get started in the Better Business Challenge.
It is that time of year for folks to be hosting a gathering of some sort. Whether it be for Father’s Day, a graduation party, Fourth of July Celebration, or just a summer cookout, being more energy-efficient will ensure you stay within your party budget. Here are some tips on how to make your next gathering more energy-efficient:
Host your gathering outside.
Instead of having an afternoon gathering, have it in the early evening when the sun is starting to go down and trees have a better chance of providing natural shade. This way you can reduce the number of lights and air conditioning needed. If you’re not in the house, why use the extra electricity?
Use fans and windows.
If you don’t have the yard for a cookout or it just doesn’t make sense for your particular function, open your windows. The more windows open, the more a natural cross-breeze will be circulated throughout the house. If the windows alone are not satisfying, place fans in strategic locations around your house to create circulation. This will be a fraction of the cost of running the AC on full blast.
Build a fire or use candles.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of having a successful gathering. Instead of spending hours hanging lights, why not use candles, tiki torches, or better yet, have a bonfire! Not only will you be saving on your energy cost, but you will sure to please your guests with a natural mosquito repellent (not to mention the surprise smores!). If you have to come in the house, glow sticks and lanterns will assist in conserving your energy, not to mention making your gathering one that all your guests will remember for years to come!
Put it on Ice.
Instead of sending all your guest back and forth to the fridge, put all of your drinks on ice. Use a cooler, a tube, bucket, really anything that will hold ice and drinks. This will keep the refrigerator from working overtime since the door will not be opening and closing as frequently.
Cook in batches.
If you are using your oven to prepare food for your gathering, cook things in batches. Cook as much of the food as you can to ensure you are using your oven and stove for less amount of time. But the preferred method would be to cook on the grill! Nothing says summer like food fresh off the grill!
We hope that these tips and tricks will help assist you in being more energy-efficient at your next gathering. Enjoy!
On May 10th, we held our Spring Meeting at the University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center. A huge thank you to our sponsors for making our event possible, and a thank you to all those who attended and made it a success!
Registration and networking kicked off our meeting at 10:00a.m. As attendees filed in, we started our opening presentation and business meeting portion of our agenda. Chelsea Harnish, our Executive Director, gave a recap of some of the accomplishments and updates VAEEC’s had in the past year. Some of these updates included highlights from our Annual Report, which can be viewed here.
Chelsea Harnish presents the opening remarks.
Key 2017 Updates:
- 1 New Board Member
- 1 Publication, “Why Energy Efficiency is a Smart Investment for Virginia”
- 5 Videos Produced
- 4 Webinars Hosted
- 6 Sponsored Events
- 2 In-District Site Visits with Legislators
- 18 Award Winners at 2nd Annual Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards Ceremony
- 125+ Attendees at Awards Ceremony
- Membership grew nearly 25%
After Chelsea’s updates, members voted on three Board Members up for reelection: Richard Caperton–Oracle, John Morrill–Arlington County, and David Koogler–Rappahannock Electric Coop. Members also voted on one new Board Candidate, Michael Hubbard–Dominion Energy, to replace former Board Member Tom Jewell. Each passed unanimously.
Following the Board election, we had our Remarkable Member Updates and Membership Poll. For our membership poll we tried something new, and included a question for non-member attendees. We used PollEverywhere to collect real time responses from the audience, displaying answers on the screen. We asked these questions:
- Currently, the VAEEC is focused on commercial PACE and residential building codes and utility programs. What additional topics would you like the VAEEC to focus on or address during 2018?
- Would a job opening and resume board posted on the VAEEC’s Members Resources page be beneficial to you or your organization?
- What additional benefits would you like included in your VAEEC membership?
- For Non-Members: What is preventing you from joining VAEEC?
One of our most memorable responses to our additional benefits questions was “more happy hours.” While we’re not sure we can deliver on “the happiest hour ever”, we appreciate everyone who participated and gave us valuable feedback to work with moving forward. In fact, the overwhelming positive response to the idea of a job board led us to immediately add one in our Member Resources Page.
Our group then broke up for breakout sessions. Attendees could choose between a Residential Utility Programs panel or a panel on Commercial Building Automation. The Residential Utility Program panel was held in the Quigg Room with Michael Hubbard (Dominion Energy) and Zack Bacon (Appalachian Power Co.) as speakers and Chelsea Harnish as Moderator. The second panel was held in the main room on Commercial Building Automation, with speakers Philip Agee (Viridiant), Cindy Zork (USGBC), George Holcombe (Capital One), Amanda Jenkins (Johnson Controls) and Jessica Greene as Moderator. Both panels hit a snag in the middle as the fire alarm went off and the building was evacuated.
The panel on Residential Utility Programs gave quick updates on both Dominion Energy and ApCo’s programs proposed to the State Corporation Committee. At the time, these plans were still under consideration however just a few days after the meeting, the SCC released their final order on ApCo’s programs. Three of their residential programs were approved and one was denied. All of the commercial programs were approved. Dominion Energy’s Low-Income Program was approved May 15, though with a reduced budget and at a three-year timeframe instead of the proposed five-year program.
The Commercial Building Automation breakout session holds their Q&A in the courtyard.
The Commercial Building Automation panel discussed how implementing building automation can save money, consume less energy, use less water, use fewer resources and provide better indoor environmental quality. These benefits are also the categories that buildings are scored with on how effective their automation is. While the fire alarm was disruptive, for the Commercial Building Automation panel, it provided a chance for attendees and panelists to interact in a more informal setting and they held their Q&A portion outside in a courtyard.
After the breakout sessions, we took a quick lunch break before listening to our Keynote Speaker Angela Navarro, the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade. Angela talked about Governor Ralph Northam’s various energy efficiency policies and his priorities moving forward.
For our final portion of the meeting, we asked our attendees to break into four groups based on the topic that most interested them. The choices were: Commercial-PACE, Local Government, Residential EE and Utility Programs. We had attendees participate in discussions about the challenges each of these sectors are facing and what solutions we can implement to overcome them. After discussion, each group presented a short summary of what they talked about to the rest of the attendees. The notes for the Interactive Session can be found here.
While certainly not perfect (considering our fire alarm disruption) we’re still thrilled we were able to try new things with positive reviews from our attendees. Participation in our membership poll was the highest we’ve had to date, and the feedback on the Interactive Session from our post-event survey shows attendees found it was not only useful but enjoyable; meaning it’s sure to stay for future events. Again, thank you to all in attendance for making the 2018 Spring Meeting a success!
Presentations can be viewed below:
If you’d like to view photos from the event check out our album. Feel free to use them on your own social media!
The recent election in Virginia had the highest voter turnout in two decades for a gubernatorial race (which occur in off-years) and brought the balance of power in the House of Delegates to a nearly even split between Republicans and Democrats. What does that mean for statewide energy efficiency policies and initiatives? As we continue to analyze the scenarios, we are actively engaging with the next Governor and his transition team.
These are our first thoughts on what to expect:
- Both Governor-elect Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring currently hold statewide office, which means there won’t be a steep learning curve on all topics all at one time.
- Northam has been lauded as an environmental and clean energy champion, with strong backing from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters among others. Energy efficiency isn’t necessarily his “pet project,” but we expect to find an open ear given his stance on related issues and statements like this: “Dr. Northam, as a scientist, understands the importance of energy efficiency. As a state senator, Northam supported stricter energy efficiency standards, including incentivizing companies to invest in energy efficient programs. He believes energy efficiency not only helps to combat environmental damage and climate change, but also makes business sense by saving homeowners and businesses energy costs.”
- With a plethora of new members in the House of Delegates, there is an opportunity to educate them on key energy efficiency policies.
- Depending on recounts, there will be 4-6 new members on the House Commerce and Labor committee, which reviews all energy legislation. VAEEC will be working with the new and returning members to educate them on the value of energy efficiency in the Commonwealth, including resuming our site visits with legislators in the spring. We led two successful tours in October which you can read about here. We’ll also share with all incoming legislators our new series of short videos on key EE policies. Watch those here.
VAEEC will continue to advocate for the Governor elect to build on the progress being made by Governor McAuliffe — who we recently honored with an Award of Excellence for his leadership and support of energy efficiency in the Commonwealth — on carbon regulations, which include a 5% carve out for EE programs.
Stay tuned for more insight into how the political landscape is shaping up for our energy efficiency priorities in Virginia, including a briefing on the upcoming General Assembly session in January.
Make sure you are signed up for our monthly e-newsletters (contact email@example.com) and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to speed.
Energy efficiency programs are on the Congressional chopping block.
The House of Representatives will vote in the coming days on spending cuts to several of the Department of Energy’s energy efficiency programs such as ENERGY STAR and the Weatherization Assistance Program. The House Appropriations Committee advanced the cuts earlier this month, adding them to the docket for a vote. The cuts, if passed would be applied to fiscal year 2018.
Merged with a larger budget bill, the cuts would slash funding for several Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy programs by more than half. If passed the office would see funding fall from $2.1 billion to $1.1 billion. The current administration has proposed numerous cuts to energy efficiency programs over the last six months, including eliminating the highly successful ENERGY STAR program. While no programs have specifically been called out for elimination in the House bill, the severe cuts will force the DOE to evaluate spending, which could include the elimination of entire programs.
While the proposed spending cuts in the House are massive, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its Energy and Water Development appropriations bill on July 20, maintaining the current level of funding for energy efficiency programs.
The House and Senate may disagree on the total amount for energy efficient spending, however both are an improvement from the initial proposals put forth by the current administration earlier this summer which would have gutted federal energy efficiency budgets. While wholesale elimination in FY18 is off the table for now, federal energy efficiency initiatives still face the prospect of unprecedented spending cuts.
It’s unclear whether or not the Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill will be voted on before the August break, due to prioritization of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Successful energy efficiency programs bring both economic and environmental benefits, producing jobs and savings. Promotion of these programs has historically been bipartisan and their continuation is important for the U.S. to remain competitive in the energy industry.