2016 VEEL Awards
Summer has begun, which means we’re gearing up for our annual Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership (VEEL) Awards. Held in conjunction with the VAEEC Fall 2018 Meeting, the VEEL Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 14th at the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center.
For the third year running, the awards highlight how energy efficiency champions across the Commonwealth are helping businesses, government, schools, and residents save money on energy bills while reducing energy consumption – all while stimulating Virginia’s job growth and economy. Projects or programs can be nominated for the following categories: Academic, Commercial, Government (local or state), Low-Income, and Residential. First, second, and third place will be awarded for each category.
2017 VEEL First Place Awards
The free online awards application process opens on Monday, July 9th and goes through Wednesday, October 3rd. Nominate an acquaintance, a colleague, a role model, or yourself! The only criteria are that the project or program is based in Virginia and is reducing energy consumption. Extra points are given for innovation and creativity, the degree of difficulty in overcoming challenges, and scope of work. Click here to view the Application Scorecard.
Still have questions? We have put together a Q+A guide to help you through the process. For a recap of our 2017 VEEL Awards, check out this blog post.
ecoRemod: The Energy House at 608 Ridge Street is home to LEAP’s main office. Located in a historic neighborhood and owned by the City of Charlottesville, the neglected 1920s home was transformed into an innovative energy demonstration house in 2010 through funding by the City of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, and generous sponsors.
Inspired by LEAP’s mission to facilitate energy efficiency and renewables for Charlottesville residents, this project allowed the City to take the lead in showing how residential energy efficiency can be achieved by preserving a historic home and attaining close to zero net energy use.
Lesley Fore, Executive Director of LEAP, said “LEAP has been so fortunate to work in a space that we can also use as a way to demonstrate the energy efficiency and renewable technology improvements that we recommend every day to home and business owners. ecoREMOD is a wonderful gathering place for school and community groups who want to learn more about what we do and how we do it. The truth windows and signage throughout the house really allow for a better understanding of energy efficiency, which is usually hidden behind walls.
As a bonus, working in a 1920s house fits just with our organizational culture. We enjoy the homey-ness, the natural light, and the spaciousness. It’s a great work environment.”
This effort to show and create residential energy efficiency has not gone unnoticed. In 2013, the ecoRemod was awarded the US Green Building Council’s Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest rating possible, for achievement in green homebuilding and design.
See for yourself how energy and water improvements can be achieved in your home & visit the ecoRemond today! Email LEAP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 434-227-4666 to set up an appointment or to schedule a tour for your school, neighborhood, office, or civic group.
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!
As mentioned at our spring meeting, the final Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) was published in the Virginia Register on April 30th. There is currently a 30-day public comment period open for any citizen who has concerns regarding these regulations.
If you have been following this process, then you will recall that VAEEC, in concert with our members and partners, was successfully able to work with home builders and code officials to include more energy efficiency measures in this new USBC update.
Initially, we anticipated the final regulations back in December with an effective date of July 1, 2018. Unfortunately, there was a major delay, which has now pushed the effective date to September 4th for the USBC and October 16th for the Fire Prevention Code. Earlier this week, we learned that this will most likely cause a delay for the next cycle update. It does not look like there is an appetite to start the next update cycle in 2019, as originally planned.
We will keep you posted as we learn more.
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!
May is quickly approaching and we cannot wait to see all of you at our Annual Spring Meeting in just a few short weeks!
The meeting will be held at the University of Richmond in the Jepson Alumni Center on May 10th from 10:30 to 2:30. Arrive at 10:00 am to get in some extra networking before the meeting begins. Once you get settled in, help make VAEEC the best that it can be by participating in our 2018 Board Elections and, for the first time, a live membership poll that will be conducted via text message! The poll will consist of no more than five questions with multiple choice and write-in answers. Let VAEEC know how we can better serve you!
Our breakout sessions this year will focus on Commercial Building Automation and Residential Utility Programs. The commercial panel will offer participants a chance to interact with panelists to learn more about commercial building automation and to overcome existing challenges with their building automation systems.
Staff from Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company will be on the utility panel to discuss how they plan to turn their commitments to energy efficiency- in the new utility spending bill that the Governor signed into law last month- into reality. Join either group to brainstorm how energy efficiency can grow even further in Virginia.
During lunch, we will be joined by the Secretary or Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources to lay out the Governor’s vision and priorities for energy efficiency over the next four years. This will be a great opportunity for us to connect with the new administration on our work.
Our final panel of the day will be a fun, interactive session that provides you with the opportunity to shape VAEEC’s work for the remainder of the year. After a brief overview, attendees will join one of four breakout groups to discuss a variety of issues: Residential programs, Local Government activities, Utility Program expansion or Commercial PACE. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with.
One of the many benefits of being a member of VAEEC is having your chance to shine! Share your success story during the Member Share portion of our event. Email Jenn Fisher, our new Administrative Assistant, at email@example.com to sign up in advance. New this year, we are also providing our members with the opportunity to leave out their business cards and marketing materials on our Member Networking table. In order to accommodate all materials, we are asking our members to email your information to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 7th at 5pm.
If you are not yet a member but want to take advantage of this and the other great benefits that come with a VAEEC membership, the week of the Spring Meeting is the best week to join! Join at any membership level above Individual between May 7th and May 10th, and your name will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Hurry up and register today! Registration closes next Monday, April 30th. For members, media, or speakers please use this link to register. If you are not yet a member of VAEEC, please register here. We look forward to seeing you on May 10th!
Happy (Almost) Earth Day Everyone!
Since 1970, April 22 has become a globally recognized day of action and education. Earth Day events are coordinated in over 192 countries and bring people together to celebrate the amazing world around us and recognize the worth in protecting it. Our planet is remarkable and there’s much we can learn from it. In fact, there’s a scientific discipline dedicated to studying and copying nature–biomimicry.
Biomimicry aims to learn from nature to engineer the future. The discipline looks to solve problems faced by humans by observing how organisms and natural systems deal with the very same issues. Reducing energy use is one problem scientists and engineers are tackling by looking at the world around them to inspire solutions.
Here are four examples of energy efficiency through biomimicry:
In the U.S. alone in 2016, 40% of total energy consumption came from the commercial and residential sectors, primarily from buildings. Buildings suck energy in their heating and cooling systems. Even energy efficient buildings with blinds and shades designed to conserve energy use plug-in electricity and batteries. Cones produced from trees like pines, spruce, hemlock, and fir respond naturally to humidity and moisture to open, using minimal energy in the process. Cordt Zollfrank, a chemist, forest scientist and materials researcher at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), is working to design buildings that would respond similarly. The concept could be used wherever buildings experience humidity changes, such as in climate control units.
Humpback whales are the largest animal on the planet, yet they maneuver through the water fast enough to chase fish. Not only are humpbacks quick enough to chase down a meal, but they have to make tight turns as well. Humpbacks are able to make tight maneuvers by putting their flippers at sharp angles of attack. Angle of attack in fluid dynamics is the angle between a reference line representing a body moving and the vector line representing the motion between the body and the fluid through which it is moving. Angles of attack and lift are closely linked, so raising the angle of attack increases lift as well. This movement is helped by tubercles, which create scalloped edges on the leading side of their flippers. This gives them more lift to turn. Professor Frank Fish at West Chester University studied tubercles and the scallop shape and found that tubercles increased the angle of attack up to 42 percent. Engineers have begun to add tubercles and scalloped blades on wind turbines, creating a higher angle, enabling more lift and increasing efficiency.
Equipment in buildings usually function independently and in isolation of one another. They are set on a single thermostat or timer that doesn’t have the capability of knowing what else is currently operating in the building. Since equipment doesn’t communicate with one another they often run at the same time, wasting energy. The clean technology company Encycle created Swarm Logic which can cut a property owner’s electric costs 5-10% or more a year. The technology is based on the way bees and other social insects communicate and coordinate with one another. The controllers establish a wireless network among power-consuming appliances and this enables them to communicate among themselves autonomously. Once the communication network is set then an algorithm is created so the connected appliances spread out their energy demand.
Boeing and NASA have teamed up to find ways for major airlines to save jet fuel. The answer they came up with? Copy geese. By lining up cruising airplanes in a V-formation like migrating geese, the planes leap in efficiency without investing in new technology or changing the designs of individual planes. The concept is called wake surfing. It involves harvesting energy from a lead plane by cutting down on the drag and wind resistance from the planes (or birds) following the leader. The method is still in the works but has the potential to cut down fuel bills and make air travel more energy efficient.
Nature has already solved many of the problems we face today. Animals, plants, microbes, and systems have undergone billions of years or trial and error. These biomimicry breakthroughs in energy efficiency are just a few of the ways emulating nature is shaping the future of sustainable innovation.
The VAEEC has been focused on advancing Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, financing across the Commonwealth for the past few years. Since Virginia’s C-PACE law requires interested localities to develop and implement their own C-PACE program, start up can be on the slow side. However, we’ve seen a lot more traction lately thanks in part to the launch of Virginia’s first C-PACE program (in Arlington County) and the recent release of C-PACE resources for local governments.
Program Status in Virginia
Over 30 states and Washington, D.C. have approved C-PACE programs. Virginia joined this growing list in 2009 when it first passed C-PACE enabling legislation, which was later amended in 2015. Our C-PACE law includes all new and existing commercial, industrial, multifamily residential (over four units), and nonprofit buildings.
Arlington County’s C-PACE program officially launched in January of this year with the goal of improving new and existing buildings and helping the County’s Community Energy Plan implementation. Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, or SRS, was selected as their independent, third party program administrator to provide marketing, outreach, education, and quality assurance services.
During a January 2018 Board meeting, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to direct staff to develop a C-PACE program structure, evaluate options for Program Administration, and draft an ordinance. These items will be brought back to the Board at a future meeting for consideration. Similarly, Fairfax County is exploring the development of a C-PACE program. County staff are developing information for the Environmental Committee with the goal of presenting their findings to the Committee at their next meeting on June 12th.
In addition to providing educational information to Loudoun and Fairfax, the VAEEC is working with several other jurisdictions to answer questions and help with program development. Just last week, we worked with the City of Virginia Beach to organize a C-PACE informational session for all municipal staff in the Hampton Roads region. Representatives from the Cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach were in attendance. We are also working with local Virginia chapters of the Sierra Club to host a C-PACE event on May 30th in the City of Alexandria. This event will be open to all C-PACE stakeholders in the area, including property owners, contractors, lenders, and municipal staff. We also continue to work with the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County to answer staff questions and provide guidance on the resources currently available to localities.
Resources for Local Governments
In early 2018, the VAEEC released a Virginia model ordinance for localities to use when crafting their own program. The ordinance was commissioned following a review and input from a wide variety of C-PACE experts in the lending, local government, engineering, legal, and policy fields. This document incorporated key factors that we consider to be crucial to implementing an effective C-PACE program.
Accelerating C-PACE throughout DC, MD, & VA
As part of its mission to accelerate the development and utilization of C-PACE in the Mid-Atlantic region, MAPA is currently creating program implementation guidance. These regional guidelines will be a part of a toolkit created to help localities craft their own C-PACE program and is slated to be released by June. In conjunction with MAPA, the VAEEC will be hosting a C-PACE webinar in September that will walk attendees through both this toolkit and the Virginia model ordinance.
Virginia localities may review the program infrastructure implemented in Arlington County, including the County ordinance and other program documents. There is also the option to “ride” the C-PACE Program Administration contract with SRS, which would eliminate the need for a Request for Proposals (RFP) process and shortens the time to program launch. Localities may also contract directly with SRS if cooperative procurement is not preferred. Explore the Arlington C-PACE website for more information.
The VAEEC prides itself on being a neutral, trusted resource for any Virginia localities interested in C-PACE. We are actively meeting with local governments across Virginia to discuss all available options and help each locality determine which option best suits their needs. If you would like to know more about C-PACE, contact Jessica Greene at email@example.com.