Virginia Energy Efficiency Success: Argentina gets the word on weatherization from Virginia experts

Lunch with foreign diplomats, interviews with the press, meetings with politicians, and consultations with business leaders sounds like a job description for a world leader, but was in fact just a typical day for Anthony Cox and Caleb Simon of Christiansburg, Virginia-based Community Housing Partners (CHP) when they visited Argentina as unofficial ambassadors for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

Cox, a building science manager, and Simon, a project manager at CHP’s Energy Solutions Research and Training Center, were invited to Buenos Aires by an Argentine NGO (non-governmental organization) known as FOVISEE (Foro de Vivienda Sustentabilidad y Energias) that is dedicated to promoting energy efficiency and sustainability in low-income and social housing. Having already visited CHP’s training facility last winter to learn more about establishing a weatherization program in their home country, FOVISEE staff asked CHP to come to Argentina and share its expertise with interested stakeholders.

Cox and Simon spent a busy week this past November working with FOVISEE to help develop interest in a national weatherization effort and another program in the works called Weatherizers Without Borders that would encourage skilled energy conservation professionals to provide weatherization training and mentoring to community volunteers in South American communities.

FOVISEE’s Nicolas Maggio commented, “The need for energy efficiency in existing housing becomes even more important for low-income families, as they end up paying more for energy and are subject to health and safety threats due to irregular and precarious electric connections and homes. Due to the impact weatherization can have on energy bills and improving the ‘livability’ of a home, we believe that the WAP model would be a perfect fit for Argentina.”

To help foster support for the programs across a wide platform, Cox and Simon met with U.S. embassy staff, local community and business leaders, educators, manufacturers, and the media to explain the social, financial, and environmental benefits of investing in weatherization in Argentina. They also helped perform modified energy assessments on homes in the municipalities of Campana and Moreno and gave a hands-on weatherization demonstration to professors and students at a university in Campana.

According to Cox, “almost everyone we talked with was very interested in learning more about weatherization and how it can have such a significant impact on people’s quality of life. It’s exciting to be a part of the momentum that’s building in Argentina around energy conservation.”

Simon agreed that the weatherization message was well received in Argentina and attributed that fact to a simple truth: “People are the same everywhere. Everyone wants a better life, and we can help with that.”

US Chamber's energy platform, Blueprint Virginia and energy efficiency

On January 15, 2014, the US Chamber of Commerce unveiled a 64-point energy platform today called ‘Energy Works for US,’ designed to move changes in national energy policy to reflect major landscape changes over the past few years. The 64 ‘planks’ are strewn throughout nine policy areas and will cover energy sources from oil and coal to nuclear and renewables as well as issues like worker shortages, cybersecurity, permitting and infrastructure. The platform will serve as the Chamber’s energy plan for the coming years. You can access the platform here. 

To bring this closer to home, VAEEC asked the Virginia Chamber of Commerce if they have developed a position with respect to the US Chamber’s energy platform, if they will be adopting the national plan, and what should we expect here in the Commonwealth?

The Virginia Chamber’s Keith Martin, Vice President of Public Policy & General Counsel, responded, “The Virginia Chamber just completed a strategic business plan called Blueprint Virginia.  We met with over 7,000 businesses throughout the state to discuss issues of economic competitiveness.  One of our focus areas was energy.  Based on the recommendations we received from the business community, our goal is to create a balanced, sustainable energy policy that supports economic development and job growth while meeting the growing needs of our population and business community.”

“As you can see from our recommendations on energy, there is a lot of overlap between our blueprint and the U.S. Chamber’s energy platform.  We intend to take our recommendations to Governor McAuliffe as he develops his energy plan for the Commonwealth.”

Blueprint Virginia’s Energy focus is on four areas:

Efficiency & Education

• Leverage private-sector investments for energy-efficiency improvements in state-owned buildings.

• Bring new energy-efficiency technologies to market through incentives.

• Strengthen consumer education and technical support for energy efficiency.

• Provide understandable, useable information to energy consumers directly at the consumer and retail level.

• Localize Virginia’s energy education efforts.

Energy Reliability

• Support investments in grid reliability and security to promote the most reliable possible service.

• Promote energy infrastructure planning to make the state’s energy supply resilient and secure.

• Encourage energy policy that accounts for the increased risk of energy disruption.

• Emphasize the importance of infrastructure investments to energy regulators and companies.

Infrastructure Investment

• Encourage continued fuel diversity through traditional and alternative energy investments in new sources of power generation, including but not limited to natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass, solar, and wind.

• Identify highest potential opportunities for gas infrastructure investment to spur economic development.

• Better position Virginia’s offshore wind industry through investments in data technology, port capacity, and other opportunities to increase the supply chain potential of offshore wind.

Strategy Job Creation

• Shape public policies to take advantage of the dramatic increases in domestic energy supply.

• Support the full range of energy resources in Virginia to promote stable rates, economic development, energy independence, and environmental protection.

• Focus on energy investment opportunities that promote jobs, capital investment, and economic development.

• Build on Virginia’s affordable energy prices and reliable energy supply as a competitive advantage in recruiting business to the Commonwealth.

 

Blueprint Virginia’s Technology, Innovation & Startups focus is in six areas:

Innovation Funding

• Identify and encourage adequate funding and tax policy: Center for Innovative Technology GAP Funds; Angel Investment Tax Credit; capital gains tax exemption; Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund; R&D Tax Credit.

• Promote the creation of regional private investment funds.

• Support the creation of industry-specific accelerators.

Entrepreneurship

• Create a stronger environment for entrepreneurship (outreach on available resources, teaching entrepreneurship in the schools, and statewide recognition).

• Enhance Virginia’s Business One-Stop portal.

STEM Education

• Continue to encourage experiential STEM opportunities for students, such as the CSIIP.

• Continue to explore policies to recruit and retain STEM teachers.

• Continue to emphasize STEM degree attainment.

Technology Sectors

• Continue to use the R&T Strategic Roadmap for investment in priority sectors.

Commercialization

• Strengthen the Commonwealth’s efforts to commercialize university intellectual property and support federal facilities IP transfer initiatives.

Broadband

• Continue to invest in expanding broadband coverage and planning efforts.

• Promote cooperation and coordination through public-private partnerships to expand broadband services and lower deployment costs in areas where broadband expansion is not economically feasible.

For an Executive Summary of Blueprint Virginia, click here. 

For the Energy Works for Us plan, click here. 

Member Spotlight: Altus Corporation

VAEEC is pleased to spotlight the companies, organizations, utilities and municipalities it works with to advance energy efficiency in Virginia.

December 2013 Member Spotlight: Altus Corporation

Altus Corporation is a commercial mechanical and controls contractor based in Virginia, serving the mid-Atlantic and southeast states.  We have the honor of serving Retail Store Chains, Local Governments, Utility Companies, Federal Government Offices, Automated Regional Distribution Centers, Warehouses, Country Clubs,  Climate Controlled Wine Distribution Centers, Property Management Companies, Energy Service Companies and Universities.

 

In what ways does your company promote energy efficiency?

The management at Altus Corporation chose to become involved in energy conservation during the Energy Crisis of the 1970’s.  Since those days of the early ‘Energy Management Systems’ Altus Corporation has installed  hundreds of automation systems throughout the region.  Our focus on energy conservation and the countless benefits conservation provides to our customers, to the environment and to future generations is an integral part of the services we offer.  Whether proposing solutions to the simplest of air distribution problems, motor replacements or major equipment replacements, we offer efficiency upgrades as the preferred option.   We have promoted energy efficiency through our customers and our competitors as active supporters of the Association Of Energy Engineers since it’s inception.

 

How do you describe the value of energy efficiency to your customers?

Some of our customers prefer to explain the value of energy efficiency to us.  One facilities manager in particular describes how they have reduced their annual corporate energy usage while adding tens of thousands of square feet of new facilities.  We are fortunate to have customers that recognized early on that energy conservation not only improves their bottom line, but is the socially responsible way to conduct their businesses.  They also recognize that minimizing energy cost is essential to surviving in today’s competitive market.

 

What innovative trends do you expect to see in the near future?

We are pleased to see new energy saving technologies becoming economically viable such as variable frequency drives in single zone rooftop units.  We also expect to see the marriage of new and old technologies in addressing the ventilation air requirements in the current codes.  In addition, we expect to see Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) and Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) systems become more popular in the states in coming years.  Hopefully some of the American equipment manufacturers will develop their own systems so that we can maintain our ‘Buy American’ preference.

 

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the VAEEC?

We believe that membership in the VAEEC will allow us to stay up to date with, and contribute to, energy efficiency improvements and clean energy in Virginia.

First-Ever Virginia Energy Efficiency Census: Call for Reviewers, Contributors

One of the most anticipated presentations at our recent biannual meeting was the sneak-peak at our first-ever Virginia Energy Efficiency Census, the report on which will be released in early 2014. The slide presentation overview of the census results is available on the VAEEC website.

To complete this landmark report, we have requested two things from VAEEC members:

  1. Review the draft report. We’re looking for a handful of volunteers to sit on the Census Report Review Committee and provide feedback on the draft report in early January. Please email Harold@vaeec.org to be a part of the committee.
  2. Provide real world examples. Many of the key findings of the report will be much stronger in the eyes of policymakers when paired with actual examples. We are seeking anectdotes and testimonials that speak to the following results:
  • A full half of Virginia’s energy efficiency and renewable energy businesses obtain 75% or greater of their income from these sectors. Does your business focus almost exclusively on energy efficiency?
  • The number of energy efficiency sector businesses has grown 191% since 2000. Is your business new to Virginia in the last 13 years?
  • The factors that businesses cite for hiring new staff in this field include: consumer awareness, access to incentives, access to utility programs, and economic development support. Has your business hired new staff thanks in part to those factors or, v/v, been stymied by the lack of those programs?
  • Businesses acknowledged that the skills gap that prevented additional hiring were customer service/sales, energy auditing, and engineering and design. Have these or other skills gaps hindered your efforts to add jobs?
  • The most desired market catalysts identified were green/energy efficiency programs, performance-based incentives, rebates, adoption and enforcement of enhanced building codes and improved access to customer energy use data. Can you envision ways these programs could – or have – bolster your business?

If you’re willing to tell your company’s story to underscore the above data points, please email info@vaeec.org or harold@vaeec.org by January 10, 2014.  You and your company will receive credit in the final report.

Recap of December VAEEC Meeting and Request for Census Report Reviewers/Contributors

Guest blogger: Andrew Grigsby, Commonwealth Sustainabillity Works, VAEEC Governance Board

On December 3rd nearly 100 leaders in Virginia’s energy efficiency industry gathered for the biannual meeting of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council. The agenda was packed with presentations from notables like Al Christopher of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; Andy Farmer of the State Corporation Commission; Cisco DeVries of Renewable Funding; and Subid Wagley of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

(If you couldn’t make it to the meeting, you can download most of the presentations.)

I captured a few of the most compelling conversation points from the meeting:

  • Perhaps energy efficiency advocates should partner with local and state economic development agencies? Few things create jobs better. Virginia might look to some efforts in North Carolina where communities are responding to the statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard.
  • Let’s buy building energy efficiency like we buy cars – with simple financing and an understanding of reasonable payback – and with an understanding that this is an asset that can be passed along to the next owner when we are done with it.
  • Would you pay ahead for 30 years of cell phone service?  That’s $40K. Why shouldn’t a homeowner pay for efficiency upgrades the same way: month-by-month as we use it?
  • Some 50% of Virginia schools are more than 50 years old. That’s a huge opportunity for energy efficiency work.

Part of the meeting was a sneak-peek at our first-ever Virginia Energy Efficiency Census report that VAEEC will be releasing before the VCU Energy and Sustainability Conference in mid-February. A request was made for VAEEC members to volunteer to review the draft report in early January, and to provide anecdotes and testimonials to include in the report. Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director of NCSEA, was a featured speaker, too, who highlighted how their census has augmented energy efficiency efforts in North Carolina.

Get more details and help us out.

VAEEC News: More than 100 Industry Leaders to Gather for Biannual Meeting

Contact: Annie Suttle, Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, 434.249.9817, annie@leap-va.org

Gubernatorial Election Implications and Statewide Industry Census on Agenda

Richmond, Virginia – The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council will welcome more than 100 leaders in the energy efficiency industry to its biannual meeting today. Participants will get a sneak peek at and briefing on the 2013 Clean Energy Census in Virginia, the first of its kind, which will be released in January. The meeting will also include a Crystal Ball Panel that addresses the gubernatorial election’s implications for energy efficiency in the Commonwealth.

“We’re thrilled to have another packed house of the thought leaders and drivers in Virginia’s energy efficiency industry,” said Steve Walz, VAEEC’s Governance Board Chair. “This is the ideal space for networking, exchanging ideas, and getting up to speed with the state of the energy efficiency industry in the Commonwealth. We’ll address topics that are of great and immediate import to our industry and our state like the recent Energy Efficiency Census that VAEEC conducted and the possible implications of the recent statewide elections.”

The full agenda is online. Featured speakers and topics include:

• Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (“Clean Energy Census: How has NCSEA Leveraged the Census for EE Jobs Creation in North Carolina and Lessons for Virginia”)

• Bill Greenleaf, Richmond Region Energy Alliance and VAEEC Board (“Overview of Virginia Energy Efficiency Census”)

• Subid Wagley, DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (“DOE Energy Efficiency Initiatives in Buildings”)

• Cisco DeVries, President and CEO of Renewable Funding (“Commercial PACE and the WHEEL”)

• Al Christopher, Energy Division Director, Dept. of Mines Minerals and Energy (“What the new Governor could mean for energy efficiency and the State Energy Office”)

• Andy Farmer, Education Resources Manager, State Corporation Commission (“What’s ahead & their decision-making methodology”)

• Bob Holsworth, Managing Principal, DecideSmart (“How the most recent election might impact energy efficiency in the Commonwealth”)

• Cynthia Adams, Executive Director, Local Energy Alliance Program and VAEEC Board (“Update on federal energy efficiency policies”)

The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (www.vaeec.org) is a trade organization whose mission is to assess and support programs, innovation, best practices and policies which grow Virginia’s energy efficiency industry and to provide a forum for stakeholder interaction. Current 2013-2014 members include:

Business Gold:

• Dominion Virginia Power

• Local Energy Alliance Program

• Old Dominion Electric Cooperative

• OPower

• Rappahannock Electric Cooperative

• Siemens

Business Silver:

• 2rw Consultants, Inc.

• Columbia Gas of Virginia

• Commonwealth Sustainability Works

• Community Housing Partners

• Comverge

• D&R International

• GoodCents

• Southland Energy

• Trane

Academic:

• North Carolina State University

• Tidewater Community College

• Virginia Commonwealth University

Government:

• Chesterfield County

• City of Charlottesville

• James City County

• Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

• Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy

• Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association

Individual:

• Paul Brooks, Johnson Controls

• Tom Cassidy

• Lisa Dobriansky, General Microgrids

• Bill Greenleaf, Richmond Region Energy Alliance

• Elizabeth Gruben, Watt Savers

• Abigail Johnson, Abacus Property Solutions

• Sandra Leibowitz, Sustainable Design Consulting LLC

• Brian Redmond, Paragon Energy Holdings LLC

• Jeff Soplop, Energy Savvy

• Molalenge Teshome, Bridgewater College

• Liza Tuttle, GE Appliances and Lighting

• Steve Walz, Northern Virginia Regional Commission

• Billy Weitzenfeld, AECP

We’re hiring an Executive Director

The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council is pleased to announce that we’re hiring an Executive Director. The position is part-time with the goal of growing it to full-time with successful fundraising.

Check out the job description.

All qualified candidates may apply by sending a cover letter and resume to Stephen Walz, VAEEC’s Governance Board Chair, at steve.walz@verizon.net.

Closing date for applicants is December 9, 2013.

It’s an exciting time for energy efficiency in Virginia. Please spread the word and help us find a rockstart to join the VAEEC team!

 

VAEEC News: VAEEC Travels to D.C. to Encourage Congress to Act on Energy Efficiency

Contact: Cynthia Adams, Governance Board, Virginia Energy Efficiency Council

434.825.0232/cynthia@leap-va.org

 Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) Travels to Washington to Encourage Congress: “Act on Energy Efficiency”

Charlottesville, VA – Cynthia Adams, Executive Director of the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) and Vice Chair of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, is traveling to Washington to meet with lawmakers about energy efficiency and the opportunity it presents for Virginia businesses.  Adams is joining business leaders from across the country in the Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Day, along with representatives from the nation’s leading energy efficiency providers, including Honeywell, Siemens, United Technologies Corporation, Schneider Electric, Ingersoll Rand, Danfoss, Johnson Controls Inc. and Owens Corning.

Adams will join other Virginia delegates to meet with their representatives in Congress to communicate the value of energy efficiency and share highlights from their own business experience. Participants include business leaders from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina.

“Common sense energy legislation is a win-win that means savings for Virginia businesses and communities,” said Cynthia Adams, Executive Director of LEAP. “I’m joining Virginia business leaders in encouraging Congress to support bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that accelerates energy-savings practices, reduces government spending and saves taxpayers money.”

The Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Day is one of several educational events taking place on Capitol Hill this week to highlight the importance of energy efficiency to the American economy.  Also happening this week in Washington is:

·      Energy Efficiency: A Win-Win EESI Briefing: A panel hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and featuring a discussion among leading energy efficiency providers on innovative solutions and services businesses have developed to reduce energy use in the building and industry sectors, and what policy makers can do to further promote energy efficiency gains.

·      The Alliance to Save Energy’s Great Energy Efficiency Day:  A half-day event featuring presentation and discussion focused on doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030 through efforts at the local, state and federal level.

·      Next-Gen Data Centers: Bringing Energy Efficiency to Government:  A panel presentation featuring leading industry and academic experts who will discuss the nature and importance of the federal government as an early adopter of next-gen data center technologies.  Hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the Digital Energy and Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESSC).

These events come as Congress is considering several bipartisan energy efficiency bills that, if passed, could accelerate adoption energy efficiency technologies.

“Energy efficiency is a key driver of economic development,” added Adams.  “We are keen to see Congress act on bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that will help reduce energy consumption that will produce energy savings for businesses and families alike that makes our local economy more competitive and our communities stronger.”

 

About VAEEC

The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council is a non-profit organization based in Virginia whose mission is to assess and support programs, innovation, best practices and policies which grow Virginia’s energy efficiency industry and to provide a forum for stakeholder interaction. For more information, visit: www.vaeec.org

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