Unless Massachusetts communities push to update the state’s Stretch Code before July 1, 2014, the 20% boost in building energy efficiency it provides will evaporate, creating market confusion and violate the very concept behind its inception.
What is the Massachusetts Stretch Code?
If the title and picture seem completely bizarre to you, I’d highly recommend watching Dr. Strangelove after you finish reading this post. It’s a classic.
Written in 2009, the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code (Appendix AA) is a voluntary supplement to the energy code designed to help cities and towns claim incentives offered by the Green Communities Act. The Stretch Code is approximately 20 percent more energy efficient than the state’s current base code, the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (2009 IECC), yielding annual energy savings of over $500 per home. [MORE]
A big priority to emerge from NEEP’s Business and Consumer Electronics Strategy is capturing the significant energy efficiency gains from “smarter” energy use in the home. New all-in-one home energy management software is becoming increasingly available to those willing to change their energy consuming behaviors.
So how do we change deeply entrenched behavioral patterns to align with more energy efficient usage? One way that’s been working for energy efficiency thus far is to offer enticing incentives.
When you think back to your days spent in school what do you remember?
Was it a favorite teacher? The countless trips to the vending machine between classes? A visceral rush of excitement after your crush unexpectedly sat next to you in biology? I recently asked a colleague to recount her high school experience and received a surprising answer in return.
“My school was like a prison!”
Not because it was strict but because the architect who designed it also happened to design prisons.
Schools and prisons, go figure…
The school was dark with little natural light, had the ventilation of a prehistoric cave, the ceiling tiles were covered with stains and often had overlooked, unusual growths – the list went on. If a student compares school to prison, that comparison should reflect the student’s displeasure for getting out of a cozy bed rather than the design of the school itself.
It’s always interesting to witness a convergence of events that serve to highlight and illustrate an issue raised in the course of public debate.
Such a convergence has occurred in recent weeks, in this case involving energy efficiency standards set by the states and the federal government, which date to the days when Ronald Reagan was governor of California and public consciousness began turning to the idea that energy was a vital commodity that needed to be regulated via public policy.
On December 31, with most of us ensconced in a holiday glow against the biting cold, the Associated Press ran a story nationally that cited the energy use consumption analysis compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that the average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade – this despite the fact that the proliferation of consumer electronics grew exponentially over that same time span. In fact, electricity consumption fell in 2012 for the second year in a row, as the graphic below depicts:
Source: U.S. EIA, December 20, 2013
The Solid-State Lighting (SSL) industry is poised to take a leap forward in energy efficiency and performance as Northeast Energy Efficiency (NEEP) updated the DesignLights Consortium®’s (DLC) SSL Qualified Products List (QPL) at the turn of the year.
Thanks to the 2013 specification revision to the DLC QPL, lighting manufacturers, energy efficiency program administrators, and others in the SSL industry can continue to promote energy efficient lighting technology with the latest most innovative and high-performing products. The newest version of the list had been phased in over the last few months, having allowed products that met the previous requirements to remain on the list until January 1, 2014. At that time, products which did not meet the new requirements were removed from the active QPL and placed on the “Products No Longer Qualified” list.
We all know what the outdoors can do to revitalize our health. We feel more connected, nourished, and energized after we venture out of our homes and take a deep, endless breath of fresh air, soak up vitamins from sunlight, or drop in on the crest of an interminable wave. What if I told you that the same raw nourishment from the outdoors can reduce your heating and cooling bill?
Energy efficient technology helps lay the groundwork for a more symbiotic relationship between the natural world and us.
I get it. No really, I do. You’re an environmentalist – well, so am I. You wanted to lessen your carbon footprint just like the rest of us – and I applaud that. So in a desperate attempt to decrease the environmental burden of doing laundry, you decided to hang your clothes out to dry. But this isn’t Little House on the Prairie! This is an urban area and countless people just got a free look at your unmentionables. That guy down the street? Yeah, he saw them. The old lady on your block almost tumbled over when she saw those, “new-fangled undergarments” of yours. Even now, small children are buckling over in peals of laughter at your expense.
There is no need to continue this public shaming. You can keep your laundry and privacy clean without damage to the environment. Let me show you how NEEP and our partners can help. This year, NEEP joined forces with the Super Efficient Dryers Initiative (SEDI), who plans to introduce advanced clothes dryers into the North American market. NEEP and SEDI are especially interested in the prospect of heat pump clothes dryers, which are currently picking up speed in European markets.
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.
Hey Rudolf, is that an LED?
It’s official: the holiday season is here. With snow on the ground in much of the Northeast and days still getting darker earlier, NEEP has some tips to help you brighten up your homes while still leaving plenty of room in your budget for the newest gadgets and gifts.
Holiday lighting is a big business! Think about it: around the holidays, millions of Americans plug in new light sources, both inside and out, and leave them on for hours each day. Think of your own home—do you use fewer of your normal lights when your holiday lights are on? Or do you enjoy the holiday ambience alongside of your traditional lighting arrays? Utility customers in this region are accustomed to bills going up in the winter months; while this is mostly thought to be attributed to an increase in heating and maybe holiday cooking, holiday lighting can heat up and burn a hole in your electricity bill.
As 2013 nears its end, important work on energy efficiency policy and programs is still on going. Below are the important proceedings that NEEP is keeping an eye on. And keep an eye out in January for the release of our 2013 Regional Roundup, which will contain our summation of the biggest state policy developments and trends from this past year.
Additionally, we encourage you to attend the Evaluation Measurement and Verification (EM&V) Forum’s Annual Public Meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire next Thursday, December 12. A great opportunity to mingle with decision-makers from our region and participate in discussion about key energy efficiency evaluation topics like cost-effectiveness testing, energy efficiency and air regulations, and net savings! Check out the agenda and register here.