Sustainability News - Mar/Apr 2015

Created:
Tue, 2015-04-07 09:53

We have some very exciting announcements for this quarter’s installment of need-to-know sustainability news! While this is, of course, not a comprehensive listing of important recent news, we thought you all would agree that these items were definitely of particular importance! To chat about other recent news stories in the sustainability industry, visit our Facebook page or tweet us @everblue_edu. Now, let’s get into it!

Energy Efficiency Banner 

Portman-Shaheen Energy Efficiency Legislation Passes in Senate

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) were finally able to pass some of their energy efficiency legislation! This bipartisan duo have tenaciously been working on legislation that would address the energy crisis in the U.S. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act includes four key provisions:

  • Establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption**
  • Exempts certain electric resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending Department of Energy regulation
  • Requires federal agencies to coordinate with OMB, DOE, and EPA to develop an implementation strategy for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy-efficiency and energy-saving information technologies
  • Requires that federally-leased buildings without ENERGY STAR labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical

**This bipartisan provision from Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) incentivizes tenants of commercial buildings to voluntarily reduce energy consumption. The legislation would create a “Tenant Star” certification to recognize tenants who operate energy-efficient leased spaces. Interestingly, the U.S. House of Representatives passed this Tenant Star legislation last year, but it never became law.

This whole bill must now be approved by the House, which reconvenes in mid-April. Since the House passed similar legislation last year, this bill has a good chance of moving forward.

 Green Building Banner

USGBC Recognizes Living Building Challenge Requirements for LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced its support for the Living Building Challenge green building system. The USGBC will now recognize energy and water requirements from the Challenge within the LEED program. This means that projects achieving the energy and water requirements in Living Building Challenge will now be considered as technically equivalent to LEED.

Over the last several years, the USGBC has made efforts to align its system with other rating systems around the world. In 2012, for example, the USGBC recognized energy credits from the BREEAM program, which is popular in the United Kingdom. BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

It’s nice to see that as more green building competitors enter the market that the USGBC will be nimble and open-minded to evaluating the other rating systems and finding the synergies between them and LEED. There are nearly 69,000 LEED-certified commercial buildings in more than 150 countries and territories globally, so it makes sense that the USGBC would embrace these other programs and find ways to work together. Kudos!

 Renewable Energy Banner

White House Supports Training Military Veterans on Solar Energy

Perhaps the biggest news to hit the clean energy industry came right from the top itself at the White House. Last week President Obama made several announcements in support of solar training and renewable energy. In particular, he committed to supporting our military veterans and helping them enter the clean energy workforce with the technical skills they need to succeed. As a veteran-founded company, we’re very pleased to see this enthusiasm and commitment.

Obama visited Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah to make the following announcements:

  • The Department of Energy wants to see 75,000 people get trained to enter the solar workforce by 2020. The previous goal was 50,000 by 2020, but due to the success so far seen with this initiative, it seemed more than appropriate to increase this number.
  • The DOE and Department of Defense will launch a Solar Ready Vets program at 10 military bases across the country, including Hill Air Force Base. This program will focus on specific needs of high-growth solar employers and incorporate work-based soft skills that will help transitioning military personnel to enter the solar workforce seamlessly.
  • The Department of Veteran Affairs will work with the DOE and state approving agencies to get approval for GI Bill funding for DOE’s Solar Ready Vets program. The GI Bill is typically reserved for credit-based training programs, so this approval would enable veterans to use their GI Bill benefits to participate in job-driven solar training programs. Thankfully, the GI Bill already extends to licensure and certification exams, including all LEED professional exams as well as several BPI certification exams. Veterans can already apply for exam reimbursement using their VA benefits.

Solar is increasingly becoming more popular in the United States, and we commend the White House’s commitment to getting veterans and other individuals trained and prepared for this line of work. Last year, for example, the U.S. Installed as much solar every three weeks as we did in all of 2008 – mind blown! Since President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 20 fold, doubling last year alone, and the solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.

So...which news stories are most affecting you? Tweet us @everblue_edu. Enjoy the rest of your week!

By Lesley Cowie