National Energy Efficiency Day (October 5th, 2017), is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the local, state and federal policies that support energy efficiency and the people — through jobs, economic growth and energy/cost savings — supported by energy efficiency.
To honor this important day, VAEEC partnered with two of our members, Virdiant and Project:HOMES, to host site visits for two legislators: Del. Yancey in Newport News and Del. Ware in Goochland County. Both sit on the Commerce and Labor Committee, which reviews all energy legislation during the General Assembly sessions.
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.
Our day got off to a great start when Governor McAuliffe officially proclaimed 10/5/17 as Energy Efficiency Day in Virginia. We hit the ground running from there.
First, Del. Yancey toured an independent senior living facility, which was recently built to above-code standards and received the Earthcraft Certification through Viridiant. Del. Yancey learned about the green features of the facility, what it means to earn an Earthcraft certification and the increased comfort residents feel in their new homes. The property managers and residents were on hand to tell their personal stories, including one resident who said her electric bill is about $50 per month for her 1100 square foot, two-bedroom apartment!
The primary goals of the developers of this facility were to reduce energy consumption and improve indoor air quality and safety for residents. Some of the funding for this facility came through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Read more about the 801 Main project here.
Later in the day, Del. Ware joined us at a single-family home that was in the midst of receiving much-needed weatherization upgrades. The Project:HOMES crew gave a tour of the home to discuss all of the upgrades being made including: new lighting; new heating and cooling; air sealing; adding insulation; and various health and safety measures. The crew also displayed blower door testing equipment and demonstrated how to add insulation to existing structures by blowing cellulose insulation in between studs.
The elderly homeowner, who has been in the home since it was built in 1940 was present, as well as her three living adult children, to discuss the home’s history and the issues that forced them to reach out for help. In the past, the electric bills for this 1035 square foot, one-level home, would run about $200 per month during the summer. The upgrades made to this home will substantially reduce those costs next year and were made available through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Weatherization Program and Dominion Energy’s Energy Share Program.
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. When legislators make vital decisions regarding energy efficiency in Virginia, we want them to remember the folks on the ground who are implementing these programs every day.
In VAEEC’s most recent report on Energy Efficiency being a smart investment for Virginia, we found that energy efficiency is $1.5B industry in Virginia that supports 75,000 jobs. The report’s five policy recommendations chart a course for improving that ranking and for more successes.
- Expand utility energy efficiency program opportunities in Virginia
- Support the adoption of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing across the Commonwealth
- Adopt rigorous energy building codes for new home construction without weakening amendments
- Expand performance-based contracting for state-owned buildings and public institutions of higher education
- Provide and support opportunities for benchmarking of state, local and commercial buildings
We are already starting to see results from our work. Last week, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released their annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Virginia was tied for 29th place and was noted as a “Most Improved State” along with Florida and Idaho. The accolade underscores the hard work of VAEEC and our members in recent years on projects like those toured last week; it also reminds us that there is plenty of room for improvement.
Telling our members’ stories helps our industry succeed as a whole and we will continue to tell those stories to push for more policies and programs that help support this incredibly diverse yet important sector to Virginia’s economy.
Hope your #EEDay2017 was as productive, inspiring and motivating as ours!