VAEEC Linking Members

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!

 

Virginia Energy Plan

By October 1st, the State Energy Office of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) must prepare an Energy Plan that covers a 10 year period and submit that plan to the Governor, the SCC Commissioners and the General Assembly.  This Energy Plan is required to propose actions that are consistent with the Commonwealth’s Energy Objectives (VA. Code 67-201) including projections of energy consumption, analysis of efficient use of energy resources and conservation initiatives, analysis of whether there is a disproportionate adverse impact on economically disadvantaged or minority communities, and recommendations for legislative, regulatory, and other public and private actions.

This year’s plan, however, will have a slightly different focus. The DMME is pushing for a greater emphasis on outcomes and how this goal can be achieved through policy. In order for this plan to be the most effective and include the most input, DMME will rely on community involvement. Specifically, they want the public to help answer the following questions:

  1. What legislative changes are needed?
  2. What regulatory changes are needed?
  3. Is there administration level action needed?
  4. Is there private activity needed?

Slides from all meetings will be posted on this website and are open for public viewing. The public has until August 24th to submit comments online to the website.

In addition to the written comments, there will also be four listening session that the public can attend:

  1. July 23 from 1-4 PM House Room 1 of the Capitol in Richmond
    • Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority Meeting and Listening Session
  2. July 25 from 12-2 PM in Newport News
    • Offshore Wind Energy Stakeholder Meeting and Listening Session
  3. July 30 from 5-7 PM in Roanoke
    • Public Listening Session

The Virginia Energy Plan will have five tracks and each will have their own focus areas:

  • Solar and Wind Resources
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Electric Vehicles and Advanced Transportation
  • Storage 
  • Offshore Wind

The four focus areas for energy efficiency are:

  • Achieving Virginia’s 10% energy conservation target
  • Lead by example strategies
  • Financing
  • Program design for DMME-funded programs.

The first kickoff meeting of three energy efficiency events was held on June 25th, which included a presentation by DMME on the final recommendations from the Governor’s Executive Committee on Energy efficiency (GEC) and the next steps. There was also an open discussion with the audience on additional topics for inclusion in the energy plan.

Below you will find the list of the completed tasks related to EE since the previous energy plan update:

  • established the GEC
  • enacted legislation facilitating Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE)
  • launched the VirginiaSaves program to provide additional financing mechanisms for efficiency programs (federal funding mechanism not reauthorized)
  • developed a streamlined energy performance contracting program from Virginia facilities
  • strengthened the Commonwealth’s building codes

DMME also presented these ongoing recommendations:

  • Reach the voluntary goal of reducing energy consumption by 10 percent by 2020
  • Reduce electricity consumption in state facilities by 15% through EPC by 2017
  • Create central State facility energy data registry and dashboard to track energy consumption in State agencies
  • Engage social entrepreneurs to explore and implement innovative models to aid ee

During the public discussion, the VAEEC commented that in order to achieve Virginia’s 10% energy conservation target, local government programs must be included and the $1.2B spending commitment by utilities in SB 966 has the potential to make a big impact on this goal. In addition, we also provided ideas for each of the other focus areas, including establishing a benchmarking program for all public buildings as a lead-by-example strategy, continuing to support the Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance (MAPA) efforts to support localities interested in creating C-PACE financing programs, promoting the new Energy Performance Contracting guidelines and potential opportunities through the new Carbon Rule as ideas for program design for DMME-funded programs.

There will be two more meetings of the energy efficiency stakeholder group with discussions on specific focus areas:

  • July 18th- achieving Virginia’s 10% energy conservation target and lead by example strategies. Localities are strongly encouraged to attend.
  • August 1st- financing and program design for DMME-funded programs. Energy Service Companies and PACE advocates are strongly encouraged to attend.

Don’t miss on your opportunity to provide input on the Virginia Energy Plan. To learn more about the Virginia Energy Plan or to find details on meeting times and locations, please check the website.

MAPA Releases C-PACE Toolkit

The much anticipated MAPA Regional Toolkit has been released! 

The Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance, or MAPA, is comprised of state agencies, non-profit institutions, and private businesses working to accelerate the development and utilization of C-PACE in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. As part of their objective to accelerate the development and utilization of C-PACE programs within the tri-state area, MAPA developed a regional toolkit with feedback and input from C-PACE experts across the country.

The toolkit is a resource for stakeholders, including but not limited to local governments, program administrators, building owners, contractors, capital providers, and local lenders, providing best practices specific to this region. For localities, the provided guidance and resources streamline efforts to develop and launch a C-PACE program.

“[The toolkit] includes guidance on program development, financial underwriting, technical project criteria, sample program documents, and a model ordinance developed by the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC). This section also includes information on Arlington County’s C-PACE program, the first active C-PACE program in Virginia which launched in January 2018.”

With C-PACE still relatively new in Virginia, there is still a need for materials that will help stakeholders better understand the benefits of the program. Therefore, along with program guidance for interested localities, the toolkit also includes marketing information and resources. These materials help educate stakeholders in an effort to build support for and to promote C-PACE.

As many of you know, the VAEEC has been carrying out outreach and education to Virginia localities for just shy of two years now. We have encountered countless city and county staff and representatives who have been anticipating the release of this toolkit. With a section completely devoted to setting up a program in Virginia, we believe this toolkit will prove itself to be a vital resource to getting additional C-PACE programs up and running throughout the Commonwealth. We welcome the opportunity to meet with any stakeholder interested in C-PACE.

Contact Jessica Greene (jessica@vaeec.org) if you have any questions, or if you would like to schedule a meeting or call. 

2018 Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards

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

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.

Truth window displaying the original laths and project sponsors

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.” – Lesley Fore

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 info@leap-va.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.

VAEEC is honored to have both LEAP and the City of Charlottesville as longtime, active members. We look forward to continuing to work with them to advance energy efficiency across the Commonwealth.

Before remodel

After remodel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airtightness display

Duct insulation to reduce energy loss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airkrete exterior wall insulation

Utility Program Update 6.11.18

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.

Better Buisness Challenge

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.

 

Energy-Efficient Tips for Your Next Gathering

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!

Building Code Regulations (Finally!) Released

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.

VAEEC 2018 Spring Meeting Recap

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!

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