Category Archives: Guest Contributors

NEEP invites guest contributors to blog about efficiency from their perspective. Get a peak at what these industry experts have to say.

What is the Return on Investment of Energy Efficiency?

Efficiency Vermont has added another piece to their ‘Energy Efficiency as an Investment’ repertoire. This infographic clarifies one of the most apparent benefits of energy efficiency, the ROI tends to be high!

As we’ve noted before, energy efficiency is a solid investment. New lighting, equipment, and processes all have upfront costs that are paid off over time through reduced energy bills. So, what kind of return do large businesses in Vermont see for their investment in energy efficiency? The graphic below shows a healthy return of 167% - even after taking their contributions to the energy efficiency charge into account. 

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Building Energy for Resiliency

Caitriona Cooke took some time out of her schedule to extol the benefits of better building design during an era riddled with more extreme weather patterns and to inform us of a great conference, Building Energy 2014, happening right around the corner in Boston.

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Will you allow me a brief rant, if I share uplifting tales below? Here’s our problem: Mistakes are inevitable . . . but we have no excuses for repeated muck-ups. 

As complex systems within an even more complex system—the environment—building designs are prone to lots of mistakes. I find it hard to understand why so many professionals make the same mistakes repeatedly. Why this resistance to change? We have the information to avoid many of the mistakes that have proven so costly to our fellow citizens and the environment.

Resiliency “doesn’t just happen.”

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A case in point: all the talk about reconstruction after superstorm Sandy. Rebuilding, in spite of evidence that both the frequency and intensity of storms is increasing— should at least make us consider whether it might be better to keep certain areas undeveloped. If we must rebuild, can’t we at least learn from our mistakes?

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Infographic: Energy Efficiency as an Investment

Thanks to Jim Merriam, and his team at Efficiency Vermont, for contributing this great piece comparing ROIs of some common investments with energy efficiency investments.

Jim Merriam

Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont

When the Efficiency Vermont team works with our customers in businesses and homes, we acknowledge that the choice to use energy more wisely is often an investment. Sometimes it is as small as installing a 99 cent CFL bulb. Other projects are more expensive and complex, such as installing a variable frequency drive on a large motor, or working with a contractor to air seal and insulate an entire home. Understandably, the decision to move forward on those types of projects is not always an easy one.

Lately we’ve been thinking about other types of investments that people typically make, and how energy efficiency stacks up in comparison. Below, we consider the classic stock market investment – and, as it turns out, efficiency is the winner. Stay tuned for future posts where we see how efficiency investments play out for other home efficiency projects, and for businesses – with numbers that are even more impressive.

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Technology, Partnerships Help Shelters Save Energy and Money

Dave McMahon, Co-Executive Director of Dismas House

Dave McMahon, Co-Executive Director of Dismas House

Energy costs can be an enormous burden to social service providers who typically operate on a shoe-string, and often in older, in-efficient facilities. Finding ways to save energy is crucial to stretching our budgets and increasing comfort for residents— while also reducing environmental impact of our buildings.

The Worcester Green Low Income Housing Coalition (WGLIHC ) has been creating substantial reductions in energy costs for participating agencies in Central Massachusetts through energy audits and partnerships with state energy efficiency programs to insulate, install new heating equipment, utilize capital funds, and take advantage of state solar credits. These savings, tracked by Wegowise software, are creating opportunities to reinvest into the housing infrastructure and strengthen the standing of agencies after four years of poor revenue growth in the state.

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National Grid’s Energy Efficiency Programs Enhance Rhode Island’s Economy

Courtney Lane, Senior Analyst, National Grid Rhode Island

Courtney Lane, Senior Analyst, National Grid Rhode Island

At a time when states are still struggling to recover from the recession, investment in energy efficiency is providing a much needed boost. Investment in energy efficiency saves residents and businesses money on their energy bills, spurs investment in the local economy, and creates and maintains jobs.

Rhode Island is experiencing these benefits firsthand. A recent study by the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) Institute shows that National Grid’s 2012 Rhode Island energy efficiency programs led to the creation of 528 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs with an annual economic impact of $27 million in the state.

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Home Efficiency Beyond Energy

This piece was shared by 360 Chestnut.

This piece was shared by 360 Chestnut.

Its important to remember energy efficiency encompasses more than just energy bills and using CFLs for lightbulbs. At 360Chestnut we focus on home improvement solutions that are cost-effective, energy efficient and make a healthier home for you and your family. While there are dozens of tips we can give you to make the healthiest home possible, we are sticking with a 5 step plan to help you make improvements throughout your home. You may not see the difference in your energy bills but you will feel better about the health safety of your home.

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What Comes After the CFL? Technologies, Techniques, and Long Term Approaches in Energy Efficiency

NEEP guest-blogger, Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont, introduces five white papers by Efficiency Vermont staff and shares his perspective on strategies for the future of energy efficiency in Vermont. Efficiency Vermont provides valuable support to NEEP and to the entire Northeast energy efficiency network.

efficiency vermont logoAt Efficiency Vermont, we often feel stymied by the fact that energy efficiency is essentially invisible. We are well aware that the tools of our trade – insulation, caulking guns, and light ballasts – are not exactly photogenic. Over the last decade, though, there is one image that has become the de facto symbol of energy efficiency: the curly cued compact fluorescent light bulb.

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Collaborative Groups: Harnessing the Power of Many

by Lynn Westerlind, manager of policy and evaluation at National Grid, and Laura Schauer, a director at Tetra Tech.

While preparing this article, the authors discussed personality tests. We found that whenever we completed personality tests, the results are the same for the both of us. We are both high “E”s (extroverts). Whether at work or in our personal lives, we have both learned to partner with others with diverse strengths to achieve success. When individuals work as a team to collaborate, they are pooling their knowledge, as well as their resources and skills, to reach an overall goal. The same is true for energy efficiency collaborative groups.

Collaborative groups may consist of utility program administrators, evaluators, regulators, consumer groups and other stakeholders that support the long-term success of energy efficiency programs. Collaborative groups are a tool to optimize program design, delivery and regulatory review, and assist in the development of program processes that have the transparency and accountability in place to meet the needs of the environment in which programs operate.

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Vermont is Willing to Stretch for Efficiency

George Twigg

George Twigg of Efficiency Vermont

NEEP’s guest-blogger George Twigg, Director of Public Affairs at EfficiencyVermont shares his perspective on stretch code implementation in Vermont and the importance of providing certainty and consistency for arriving at stakeholder consensus.

As noted by NEEP in its July issue of Highlights, Vermont became the latest state to adopt a “stretch code” for building energy efficiency in the spring of 2013. The stretch code will be developed through a public, statewide process and then make itself available for local adoption by towns that want to go above and beyond the statewide energy code. The stretch code will also be used as part of Vermont’s Act 250 land use review process for larger, residential developments.

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UMP Provides Evaluation Ground Rules: NEEP Interviews DOE’s Michael Li

"Safe!" The Uniform Methods Protocol Report rounds the bases.

“Safe!” The Uniform Methods Protocol Project rounds the bases.

NEEP caught up with Michael Li of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and asked him a few questions about the recently released Energy Efficiency Savings Protocols, part of the Uniform Methods Project or UMP. The voluntary protocols draw from best practices used across the country and are the first national protocols to provide detailed guidance on evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) for many hard-hitting energy efficiency program measures and types. Developed by DOE and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) with Li leading the effort, the protocols help provide ground rules for program evaluation and allows for direct comparison and improved credibility of energy efficiency, much like an umpire provides in the game of baseball. Here’s what Li offered in response to our questions about this important new resource: Continue reading