Author Archives: Natalie Hildt Treat

Welcome to Highlights! August 2014
While late summer offers a much-needed lull for many of us, there is still some very important work being done by policymakers, regulators and program administrators to advance energy efficiency and address major regional energy issues.One of the biggest of issues: “the winter peak.” States in the heavily natural gas-reliant Northeast are concerned about what is forecasted to be another winter of supply concerns, with coincident heating and electricity generation demands straining delivery capacity. Together they are working to get out in front of the issue— maximizing the tools of energy efficiency and public awareness to mitigate constraints and impacts on customer bills. Last week, NEEP and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) convened a teleconference on winter peak issues, including participants from New England and New York state energy offices and public utility regulators with ISO-New England as observers.The group is seeking regional consensus to coordinate public education regarding the risk of potential energy supply constraints in the winter of 2014-15, and to encourage customers to reduce potential impacts on their energy bills through energy efficiency and conservation.This will also be a venue for states to discuss possible regulatory flexibility and program innovations to expedite solutions that can deliver relief in the near-term. Stay tuned for updates on what comes of these efforts — just another example of the value of working regionally for shared benefits.Meantime, please read on to catch up on the big news in Delaware (they’re busy this summer too!), a mid-year update on energy codes, legislative updates and more in our Policy Tracker, and a recap of three terrific workshops at the NEEP Summit: net zero buildings, EM&V issues, and those electrifying air source heat pumps!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and thanks for reading. We always love your feedback on Highlights.


Natalie Hildt Treat, Senior Public Policy Outreach Manager

Natalie Hildt Treat,
Senior Public Policy Outreach Manager


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In This Issue

Policy News & Views:

Policy Tracker: July 2014

High Efficiency Products:

Air Source Heat Pumps a Hot Topic at NEEP’s Pre-Summit Workshop

Building Energy Codes:

Mid-year Update: State Progress on Building Energy Codes

New and Noteworthy:

NEEP Policy & Forum Teams Host Trio of Interns

NEEP Summit and Business Leaders on YouTube

High Performance Buildings:

Cambridge City Council Passes Building Energy Usage Disclosure Ordinance

New Resource from SEE Action Network: How State & Local Agencies Can Save Energy in Buildings

Daybreak on Zero Net Energy Buildings: NEEP Workshop Sparks Dialogue on the Future of Buildings

In Focus:

Bright Future Ahead for Efficiency in Delaware

EM&V Essentials:

Alphabet Soup: Evaluation Workshop at Annual NEEP Summit 

NEEP Policy & Forum Teams Host Trio of Interns

We are fortunate to have three bright college interns working with us in Lexington this summer. Trevor, Lauren, and Erika are learning as much as they are contributing to our work, being exposed to an array of topics, joining external meetings and events, participating in NEEP projects and partnership groups, and generally getting a taste of the wide world of energy efficiency programs and policy across the region. Thank you interns, for sharing your time and your enthusiasm with NEEP!

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Bright Future Ahead for Efficiency in Delaware

NEEP joined friends in Delaware and fellow supporters of energy efficiency from around the nation in cheering a landmark bill passed in the final hours of the state’s legislative session. Included as an amendment to Senate Bill 150, the legislation set the stage for the state’s ratepayer-funded electric and gas efficiency programs to be administered by utility providers.

Natalie Hildt Treat, Senior Public Policy Outreach Manager

Natalie Hildt Treat,
Senior Public Policy Outreach Manager

“We have a lot of work to do to implement the bill, which has not yet been signed by Governor Markell,” explained Phil Cherry, acting director of the Division of Energy and Climate at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). The delay in signing is simply a matter of technical and legal work being completed to integrate the language into the state code, explained Tom Noyes, the division’s Policy Director.

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Intrigue, deal-making, and a happy ending: Delaware passes landmark efficiency bill

What a cliff hanger! In the fight to expand energy efficiency in Delaware, we had an uphill battle, a gritty gang of advocates, steadfast civil servants, a reluctant lawmaker. And somewhere in there, some extraordinary legislative maneuvering. Maybe not ready for Hollywood, but for those of us who have been toiling away to bring ratepayer-funded efficiency programs to Delaware, this victory is sweet.

Seal_of_Delaware In the wee hours of the morning of July 1 as the 2014 session drew to a close, Delaware’s General Assembly surprised and delighted efficiency supporters, passing a bill to enable ratepayer-funded programs and allow utilities to deliver those programs to their customers. Continue reading

Building a Modular Net Zero Home: An Update from the Trenches

When I last wrote about our project building a super-efficient, solar-powered home, my husband Tom and I were exhilarated. After months of agony waiting for approval of our septic system and building plans, we finally closed on the acre of land in Salisbury, Mass. Meanwhile, factory construction of the modules at Keiser Homes was already complete.

We had closed on the land and construction loan on April 16. A week later, we were standing in the light rain around a gaping, muddy hole in the ground. As a small crew worked behind us, Tom and I posed for pictures with our architect, builder, town selectman and representatives from Boston magazine, Boston Children’s Hospital and National Grid. It was the groundbreaking ceremony for the magazine’s Design Home 2014, and we beamed like sunshine, despite the weather.


Pictured, L – R:  Beth Lonergan, Ishaga Diagnana, and Dave Gendall of National Grid; Kristen Standish, Publisher of Boston magazine; Michael Bornhorst, Director, Corporate Initiatives at Boston Children’s Hospital; Tom and Natalie Treat, homeowners; Matt Silva, former Sales & Marketing Manager at Ridgeview Construction; Parlin Meyer, Development Director at BrightBuilt Home; and Freeman Condon, Salisbury Town Selectman.

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Only Natural? A Rush to Gas before Right-Sizing, Efficiency Would Cost Region

You can practically hear the hand-wringing. New England is increasingly dependent on natural gas for electricity generation, and in a long cold winter such as we’ve just experienced, heating need puts a squeeze on this energy feedstock, causing wholesale prices to skyrocket.

Figure 1: Electric Pricing Rising with Natural Gas Prices. Source: ISO-New England

Figure 1: Electric Pricing Rising with Natural Gas Prices. Source: ISO-New England

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Our Net Zero Odyssey: Building a Modular, High-Efficiency Home

Our net zero energy home will soon be complete!

At long last, our net zero energy home is moving from conception to reality.

Deciding to go for net zero energy was the easy part of building a home. My work at Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and my husband Tom’s strong interest in sustainable building made it a natural choice. We knew the additional upfront costs of building with more insulation, better windows and high efficiency equipment was a smart investment that we’d recover in lower monthly energy bills, increased comfort, and someday higher resale value.

But making it through all the “usual” hurdles: securing financing, buying land, working with the architect and builder, getting permits and navigating local politics has been more intense than Tom and I could have imagined. That, and the added twist that our house is being featured as the Boston Magazine Design Home of 2014.

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Reflections on Smart Grid and the Role of Energy Efficiency

I recently returned from the first-ever National Summit on Integrating Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid, where I experienced a series of Aha! moments. I’m still chewing on what I learned about how energy efficiency (EE), clean distributed generation (DG) and demand response (DR) can work together, and how this “smart grid” stuff is going to help enable it.

FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff explained how Hurrican Sandy changed people's views on energy.

FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff explained how Hurrican Sandy changed people’s views on energy. (photo credit: ADS)

At NEEP, we view energy efficiency as the smartest, most cost-effective way to help us solve a number of society’s challenges: wringing out waste, putting money back in people’s pockets and building the regional economy, controlling cost, increasing reliability, reducing the need for transmission and generation upgrades, and of course the biggest — mitigating climate change. To borrow RAP’s informal motto: “Energy efficiency is the answer. What’s the question?” Continue reading

The Monster in My Basement: Tough Lessons in Building Science


Sweetums seems much less scary now that I’ve met the monster called mold.

When I was a little girl, I was convinced that a monster lived in my basement. I was afraid to go downstairs alone in the morning — this terrifyingly vivid image of the dining room floor opening up, and the Muppets ogre Sweetums climbing out.

Decades later as a first-time homeowner, I’ve learned that monsters are real. But instead of a big hairy guy, it’s zillions of microbes of mold that keep me up at night.

Fresh Faces at NEEP!

NEEP is pleased to welcome a trio of new faces to our Public Policy and EM&V Teams! While Kevin Rose is an accomplished recent graduate, Serafina Zeringo and Xiao are joining us as interns as they pursue studies in environmental policy.

Kevin Rose

Kevin Rose

Kevin Rose is the Building Energy Technical Associate, where he provides technical guidance to NEEP’s Building Codes team and helps to promote energy efficiency in buildings throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Prior to joining NEEP this summer, Kevin worked as an Energy Auditor for Integral Building & Deign, where he assisted in the modeling, testing, and rating of high performance residential buildings in New York State.  He holds professional certifications with BPI and HERS, and in 2011 he was published in the Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management for his research on applying game theory techniques to environmental policy-making. Kevin holds a B.A. in Engineering Studies and a B.S. in Mathematics from Lafayette College.


Serafina Zeringo

Serafina Zeringo is interning with the Public Policy Outreach and Analysis team, and plans to stay with us through the fall as she works towards an M.S. in Environmental Policy from Bard College Center for Environmental Policy. Serafina helps the team with a variety of projects, including general research and policy tracking, drafting summaries of legislation and regulatory documents, writing blog posts, and keeping our website current. Before coming to NEEP, she worked for the C2C Fellows Program, a national network for undergraduates and recent graduates aspiring to sustainability leadership in politics and business where she helped train 18-26 year olds on leadership, public speaking, and writing for careers in business and politics, with a focus on the environmental field. Serafina holds a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience with minors in Sociology and History and a concentration in Prelaw from Boston College.

Xiao Chen

Xiao Chen

Xiao Chen is interning with the Evaluation, Measurement and Verification Forum at NEEP, where he provides general support to the team; conducts research and analyses on the Forum’s Repository of States & Topical EM&V studies and Regional Energy Efficiency Database (REED); and provides project management assistance. Before coming to NEEP, Xiao was a graduate student at Clark University, where he worked as a graduate research assistant in the project, “Smart Grid: An Analysis of How Socio-Political Contexts Shape Energy Technology Development and Policy” (NSF‐SES 1127697). Xiao’s background also includes a spring internship at the Institute for Energy and Sustainability. Xiao is dedicated to promoting energy efficiency and pursing sustainability in northeast region, as well as other parts of the world. Xiao holds a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Clark University, and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Nanjing Agricultural University.