Tag Archives: energy efficiency

srp installs solar energy systems

Energy Consortium’s Roadmap puts state of path to build industry

Imagine Arizona as the energy hub of the Southwest — where major regional transmission lines tie into infrastructure in the state and serve a growing regional demand for energy. Arizona would be a place where an increasing percentage of jobs are related to the energy industry, whether in manufacturing, generation, transmission, energy efficiency, service or technology innovation. Many of these jobs would be higher-wage jobs requiring a skilled labor force fed by Arizona’s schools and universities. Arizona could be a hub of energy-sector jobs, with factories making equipment for the industry and power plants shipping electricity to neighboring states via new power lines, all contributing to a better economy.

That is the essence of the Arizona Energy Consortium’s Energy Roadmap, which the group hopes with be a catalyst for the state’s energy industry in the same way Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap helped the state increase bioscience jobs by 41 percent and helped increase the number of bioscience establishments by 27 percent during its 10-year plan.

“It was important to create this document to give the energy industry a unified voice and direction,” said said Michelle De Blasi, co-chair of the AEC and a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “The energy industry is going to be here forever. We are always going to need energy. So the Roadmap was designed to make the industry better for everyone — consumers, developers, legislators. So it was critical that we get it right.”

This is the vision the Roadmap hopes to realize over the next decade: Arizona is the energy hub of the Southwest, with a diverse energy mix supporting reliable transmission, a strong base of manufacturing facilities, increased numbers of higher wage jobs, and world-class research institutions, resulting in increased economic development for the state and region.

Once that vision is realized, De Blasi said the state can expect to reap these benefits:
• Enhanced job creation and higher-wage jobs within Arizona
• Increased state economic revenue
• Enhanced energy export potential
• Heightened energy self-sufficiency and national and state security
• Increased transmission reliability
• Continued low cost energy

“This Roadmap is going to help Arizona be looked at differently from outside its borders,” said Chris Davey, co-chair with De Blasi of the AEC and president of EnviroMission, which is developing a solar tower in Western Arizona. “The Roadmap will create a sense of certainty, which appeals to the finance community. So when they are looking to invest, that certainty creates a more attractive environment for developers and investors.”

Davey and De Blasi said they will be rolling out the Roadmap this year, presenting it to groups throughout the state. For more information on the Roadmap, visit aztechcouncil.org.

ROADMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Arizona Commerce Authority
Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy
Arizona Public Service
Bridge Strategy Group
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
City of Mesa, the Office of the Mayor
Cleantech Open
Dircks
DIRTT
DMB Associates
Energy Services Coalition
EnviroMission
Faithful+Gould
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Greenberg Traurig
The Green Chamber – Greater Phoenix
Golder Associates
Hensel Phelps
Ikoloji
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
J.D. Porter & Associates
Kolbe Connect
Matthew McDonnell
Ormond Group, LLC
RG Schmelzer, Inc.
Salt River Project
Stream Energy
Tucson Electric Power
Valley Forward
Valley Partnership

SWEEP Provides Energy Efficiency Ideas for Arizona

Since its inception in 2001, The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or SWEEP as it is more commonly known, has tried to find new and innovative ways that will advance energy efficiency in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Covering such topics as buildings and transportation efficiency programs, SWEEP mainly focuses on electric utility programs and the impact they can have on each state if they were to be adopted.

Recently, founder and executive director of SWEEP, Howard Geller, spoke to a group of industry professionals about the new study conducted by the company that analyzes “best practice” utility energy efficiency programs and their benefits not only for the Southwest, but more specifically how they benefit the state of Arizona.

In the new study, SWEEP introduces 18 new programs for residential, commercial and industrial customers based on “best practice” programs that are offered by leading utilities and other companies and each were selected to demonstrate maximized cost-effective energy savings by 2020. Some programs that Geller believes should be implemented are to provide affordable weatherization services to homes, allow buildings and homes to receive retrofitting services, provide education and incentives to both homes and companies for using energy-efficient lighting, to implement a program for refrigerator and freezer recycling and provide incentives for both homes and companies to install proper cooling and heating units. According to the study, investing in high-energy efficiency programs like the ones listed above will allow commercial and industrial companies to see an average cost of saved energy of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hours (kWH) and residential units to see an average cost of saved energy of 3.6 kWh.

With the implementation of these programs, in addition to the other programs included in the study, SWEEP believes that by the year 2020 the state of Arizona can see a net economic benefit of $7.3 billion. With these allocated resources, Arizona would have the opportunity to invest in more energy efficiency programs, resulting in the creation of 10,400 new jobs. In addition to the economic impact, the state of Arizona would see a large decrease in air pollutant emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions, which result from cars and power plants, would be reduced by 9.6 million metric tons per year by 2020. This is the equivalent to taking approximately 1.9 million passenger vehicles off the roads in Arizona. Other toxic gases such as nitrous oxide and sodium dioxide would have less of a presence in the atmosphere, resulting in fewer cases of chronic bronchitis and asthma, as well as fewer hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases throughout the Valley.

However, just like how the old saying “you gotta spend money to make money” goes, the cost of obtaining these benefits costs a pretty penny. Gellar suggests that Arizona, and the Southwest region as a whole, can one day see these amazing benefits if they are willing to invest $17 billion collectively. Despite this, SWEEP is confident that by the year 2020, the Southwest region could see up to $37 billion in utility and public health benefits, meaning that the region would see a net economic benefit of $20 billion. Gellar stated that the only way Arizona and the Southwest are going to see this “$20 billion dollar bonanza” would be to adopt energy savings goals, decouple utility fixed costs and electricity sales, reward performance of adopting the programs, maximize participation by increased funding for all programs and allow all utilities to be involved.

Arizona is currently in the lead in the Southwest region toward adopting more sustainable and energy efficient programs.

For more information on the study conducted by the Southwest Energy Efficient Project or to read the full report, visit http://www.20billionbonanza.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

data center to be built in price corridor in chandler

New Data Center Breaks Ground In Chandler's 'Price Corridor'

NextFort Ventures, a provider of energy-efficient modular data centers, broke ground on a new data center in Chandler. General contractor is Sunstate Builders and architect is Butler Design Group.

The 130,000SF NextFort Venture Data Center, designed with the environment in mind, will be a mix of office space and computing suites in a unique modular architecture. NextFort employs numerous innovations in power distribution, cooling and facilities architecture to achieve up to 40% better energy efficiency compared to other data centers. Additionally, NextFort has a goal of receiving up to 20% of its total energy usage from renewable sources in 2013.

The NextFort Chandler Data Center is the first facility of its kind designed exclusively for high-density applications, offering customers its NextFort High-Density Computing Suites (NextFort HCS). The NextFort HCS is a highly modular design that provides greater efficiency, rapid deployment, unrivaled security, total customer control, and lower operating costs.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be breaking ground on the NextFort Chandler Data Center after many months of planning and exceptional cooperation with the City of Chandler,” said Mark Towfiq, President and CEO of NextFort Ventures. “We believe our product is unique in the industry and we are confident that it will provide a powerful and highly cost effective solution for all types of customers, ranging from start-up ventures to Fortune 500 companies.”

Enormous increases in demand for data storage and computing created in part by the increased use of mobile apps, social networking sites, and the growth of the internet in emerging markets is creating an optimal environment for NextFort as it embarks on this project. The business-friendly environment in Chandler, the low cost of power, and the presence of robust fiber optic networks, makes Chandler an ideal location for NextFort. The company will employ approximately 25 people in Chandler, and will attract businesses of all types to the area.

This project on Germann Road will be Chandler’s second commercial development this year.

“The fact that companies are making this sort of capital investment in our community is a positive sign for the City of Chandler,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “I think it speaks volumes about the quality of Chandler’s business environment in the Price Corridor and throughout the city as well as the continued economic recovery.”

Both new construction projects are taking place in the Price Corridor, which has long been envisioned as Chandler’s technology hub.

“Price Corridor is a key economic play for Chandler, and our community’s commitment to the vision for that area is now paying dividends,” said Pete Wentis, a broker for CBRE and former member of the City’s Economic Development Advisory Board.

In cooperation with the University of Arizona, NextFort will continue to strive for improvements to the energy efficiency of its data center, making the company a leader in the industry.

“The East Valley, and Chandler in particular, have proven to be very attractive to data center operations,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “NextFort is a world-class company and we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome them – and their passion for innovation – to the region.”

For more information on the new data center in Chandler’s Price Corridor, visit the City of Chandler’s website at chandleraz.gov/Default.aspx?pageid=641.

Banner Estrella Mtn

Banner Estrella Recognized As An Energy Star Facility By EPA

Banner Estrella Medical Center is the first and only hospital in Maricopa County to be labeled an ENERGY STAR® certified building by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There are just four hospitals in Arizona and 150 hospitals nationwide have the EPA-certified ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than typical buildings. Fifteen types of commercial buildings can earn the ENERGY STAR certification, including office buildings, K-12 schools and retail stores.

“We are excited to see that the dedication of our Facilities Department, and our relationship with our utility company, Salt River Project (SRP), has resulted in this honor from the federal government,” said Deb Krmpotic, Chief Executive Officer of Banner Estrella.

The hospital’s Facilities Department worked with SRP over a 12-month period to track key metrics in ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager™, such as energy intensity and costs, water use and carbon emissions, to reach the required benchmarks for the ENERGY STAR label. The benchmarks take into account the number of staffed beds and workers and the types of services offered at the hospital to compare it with like facilities. Commercial buildings that earn the EPA’s ENERGY STAR label must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide and must be independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or a registered architect.

One of the major contributing factors to achieving this recognition was the energy savings the hospital realized as a result of its participation in the SRP Retrocommissioning Solutions program. This program enhances existing systems through a tuneup, rather than relying on major equipment replacement. SRP collaborated with Banner Estrella’s Facilities Department to evaluate the chiller plant, HVAC fans, air handlers and reheat components and get them back to running in tiptop shape. As a result of the findings, the hospital saved more than $100,000 in energy costs the first year.

“Banner Estrella is a leader in the health care industry when it comes to energy efficiency. We look forward to many more successful projects with Banner Estrella, as well as other Banner Health facilities, in the future. It’s wonderful to see the hospital recognized on a national level,” said Debbie Kimberly, Director of Customer Programs & Marketing at SRP.

Launched in 1992 by the EPA, ENERGY STAR is a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. This year marks ENERGY STAR’s 20th anniversary. Over the past 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved about $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 60 kinds of products and more than 1.3 million new homes.

For more information on Banner Estrella Medical Center, visit Banner Estrella’s website at bannerhealth.com.

energy star - recycling symbol

Banner Estrella Medical Center Recognized As An Energy Star Facility By EPA

Banner Estrella Medical Center is the first and only hospital in Maricopa County to be labeled an Energy Star certified building by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Currently, only four hospitals in Arizona and 150 hospitals nationwide have the EPA-certified Energy Star label. Energy Star certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than typical buildings. Fifteen types of commercial buildings can earn the Energy Star certification, including office buildings, K-12 schools and retail stores.

“We are excited to see that the dedication of our Facilities Department, and our relationship with our utility company, Salt River Project (SRP), has resulted in this honor from the federal government,” said Deb Krmpotic, Chief Executive Officer of Banner Estrella.

The hospital’s Facilities Department worked with SRP over a 12-month period to track key metrics in Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager™, such as energy intensity and costs, water use and carbon emissions, to reach the required benchmarks for the Energy Star label. The benchmarks take into account the number of staffed beds and workers and the types of services offered at the hospital to compare it with like facilities. Commercial buildings that earn the EPA’s Energy Star label must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide and must be independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or a registered architect.

One of the major contributing factors to achieving this recognition was the energy savings the hospital realized as a result of its participation in the SRP Retrocommissioning Solutions program. This program enhances existing systems through a tuneup, rather than relying on major equipment replacement. SRP collaborated with Banner Estrella’s Facilities Department to evaluate the chiller plant, HVAC fans, air handlers and reheat components and get them back to running in tiptop shape. As a result of the findings, the hospital saved more than $100,000 in energy costs the first year.

“Banner Estrella is a leader in the health care industry when it comes to energy efficiency. We look forward to many more successful projects with Banner Estrella, as well as other Banner Health facilities, in the future. It’s wonderful to see the hospital recognized on a national level,” said Debbie Kimberly, Director of Customer Programs & Marketing at SRP.

Launched in 1992 by the EPA, Energy Star is a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. This year marks Energy Star’s 20th anniversary. Over the past 20 years, with help from Energy Star, American families and businesses have saved about $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 kinds of products and more than 1.3 million new homes.

For more information on the EPA’s Energy Star Program, visit Energy Star’s website at energystar.gov.

Pinnacle West reports

Pinnacle West Reports Positive 2011 Fourth-quarter & Full-year Results

 ’Disciplined cost management’ and strong operational performance benefit bottom line

Pinnacle West Capital Corporation reported consolidated on-going earnings of $12.1 million, or $0.11 per diluted share of common stock, for the quarter ended December 31, 2011. This result compares with on-going earnings of $5.2 million, or $0.05 per share, in the same 2010 period. The Company’s net income attributable to common shareholders for the 2011 fourth quarter was $12.6 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, compared with net income of $7.4 million, or $0.07 per share, for the same quarter a year ago.

For full-year 2011, Pinnacle West reported consolidated on-going earnings of $328.1 million, or $2.99 per share, as compared to $324.7 million, or $3.03 per share, a year ago. Consolidated net income attributable to common shareholders for 2011 was $339.5 million, or $3.09 per diluted share, compared with 2010 net income of $350.1 million, or $3.27 per diluted share.

On-going earnings exclude results of discontinued operations primarily related to the Company’s real estate activities and former energy services business. A reconciliation of reported earnings to on-going earnings is provided at the end of this release.

“Disciplined cost management, concentration on our core electricity business and superior operational performance by our dedicated employees – particularly in the areas of customer service, reliability and safety – produced sound financial results,” said Pinnacle West Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Don Brandt.

Brandt added that the Company’s 2011 results exceeded its earnings guidance. The Company had projected that on-going earnings would be near the top of its guidance range of $2.75 to $2.90 per share. The actual results were due, in part, to lower than expected operating and maintenance costs, and cooler than normal weather that increased retail sales in the fourth quarter by a similar amount as the year-ago period.

“We achieved a significant milestone with the proposed settlement of APS’s pending retail rate case,” said Brandt. “The agreement has broad support and contains provisions important to customers, shareholders and other stakeholders.” The settlement is pending approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission. APS and the other parties have requested the agreement take effect July 1, 2012.

Brandt cited additional examples of the Company’s recent achievements:

  • In 2011, APS continued its top-tier customer satisfaction rating, maintained superior power plant performance, and provided its 1.1 million customers with record levels of service reliability.
  • Standard & Poor’s Corporation (S&P) raised credit ratings in June for Pinnacle West and APS to BBB, up from BBB-, thus reducing borrowing costs and improving access to debt markets. S&P cited the companies’ stronger credit metrics, reduction in debt, improving regulatory environment and prudent financial management as contributing factors.
  • APS also celebrated several renewable energy milestones as the AZ Sun Program (APS-owned solar energy) added 50 megawatts of new solar capacity, enough to serve more than 12,000 APS customers. With these plants, APS’s renewable energy portfolio now includes 423 megawatts with an additional 523 megawatts in development. New solar and wind plants to serve APS customers have created more than 2,400 design, engineering and construction jobs for Arizona.

The fourth-quarter on-going results comparison was positively impacted by the following major factors:

  • A decrease in operations and maintenance expenses improved earnings by $0.06 per share, due largely to lower power plant maintenance costs as a result of more work being completed earlier in the year than in 2010; and to lower employee benefit costs, partially offset by higher customer service and energy delivery expenses. The variance excludes costs associated with renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, which are offset by comparable amounts of operating revenues.
  • Higher transmission revenues improved earnings by $0.03 per share, primarily because of a retail transmission rate increase implemented in July 2011.

These positive factors were partially offset by the absence of tax benefits of $0.06 per share that were recorded in the 2010 fourth quarter, but were related to prior years.

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APS, the Company’s principal subsidiary, recorded 2011 fourth-quarter net income attributable to common shareholder of $14.3 million versus net income of $7.8 million for the comparable 2010 quarter. For 2011 as a whole, APS net income attributable to common shareholder was $336.2 million compared with $335.7 million for 2010.

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National Bank of Arizona, APS Energy Efficiency Partnership

APS Home Performance Program Provides Loans For Homeowners Energy Efficient Improvements

National Bank of Arizona has partnered with APS to provide an affordable financial incentive for APS customers to renovate their homes with energy efficient improvements. It’s called the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

The program was started more than a year ago and at the time was only available to schools and small businesses. But now, the partnership has  opened up so all APS residential customers have the ability to benefit not only the environment, but their wallet as well.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with a company like APS that views environmental sustainability as a top priority for our community,” says Craig Robb, executive vice president of National Bank of Arizona. “Our business energy financing program has been incredibly successful and, we’ve recognized the need to offer the same initiatives in the residential sector, as well.”

Photo: photos.com

The APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program allows homeowners to receive loan amounts ranging with a standard rate of financing, from $1,000-$15,000 for qualifying energy efficiency improvements. Loans that include improvements for solar water heaters are available up to $20,000. The energy efficient improvements included in the partnership program range from duct sealing and shade screens to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacements, solar water heaters and more.

To get started, customers need to schedule their $99 (regularly $400) APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Checkup with a participating contractor. Customers can locate a contractor by calling (877) 850-8358 or visiting www.aps.com.

Learn more about the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program and financing details by visiting any one of National Bank of Arizona’s 76 branches statewide or calling (866) 277-5605 for more information. Customers can also log on to www.nbarizona.com or www.aps.com/financing.

Green Construction Code, Phoenix, Scottsdale

Phoenix And Scottsdale Adopt Green Construction Code

Phoenix, Scottsdale Green Construction CodeIt has been almost one month since the City of Phoenix adopted a voluntary green construction code to promote energy efficiency and sustainability in construction activities.

A keystone of the code is that both new and old projects can achieve the green standard without paying third-party fees; costly fees can often prevent projects from getting off the ground.

“Those who choose to ‘go green’ will have their projects reviewed and inspected to this standard,” says Michael Hammett, spokesman for the City of Phoenix in a statement. “There are no extra fees for plan review or permits.”

All those seeking certification must follow strict prerequisites before the city will certify the building as “green.” The code was enforced starting July 1 — although it may be too early to tell how effective it has been.

Phoenix is one of the first cities in the nation to implement such a code, according to a statement from city officials.

The city has set its aim high to attempt to mitigate waste and save energy.

The Phoenix Green Construction Code goals include:

  • Encourage the reduction of the building’s eco-footprint
  • Improve indoor air quality
  • 20 percent mandatory reduction of indoor water use
  • 15 percent mandatory reduction of energy use
  • Require that at least two percent of the building’s annual electrical use be produced by renewable energy materials
  • Encourage the implementation of green roofs, brown roofs and reflective roofs
  • Divert 30 percent of construction waste from landfills

The Phoenix Green Code was modeled after the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) and the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) for residential construction, a city news release said.

Commercial buildings will only have one type of IGCC certification, and residential buildings could have up to four, based on the NGBS standard.

This building code was created out of the Phoenix Green Building program and funded by grants from the Department of Energy.

[stextbox id="grey"]Read Dustin Jones’ blog…[/stextbox]

green building, Reduce Risk On Green Building Projects

How Subcontractors Can Reduce Risk On Green Building Projects

Green building provides a unique opportunity for the small to mid-sized subcontractor. In fact, an integrated approach to green design, building and construction will be essential to efficiently building green projects. Subcontractors and material providers can greatly benefit from the green building trend by understanding certification requirements, becoming familiar with green practices for their particular trade, and by being knowledgeable about green materials.

 

While the potential to increase business for a green subcontractor is clear, it should be noted that green building is not without risk. Owner expectations are often heightened in green building. Often the general contractor or developer has promised a certain level of “green” that may or may not be able to be achieved on a particular project. Arguably, the most likely claim to arise will be that the finished building is not as “green” as promised by the contractor. In order to protect the subcontractor from overstated promises erroneously made or implied by the general contractor or developer, there are certain contract provisions that must be in every subcontract.

As always, a clear and well-defined contract will be critical to protect the subcontractor from potential risks on such projects. It is imperative that green subcontractors include clear definitions and performance standards, clear disclosures, and exercise greater caution in bid and contract negotiation. Of particular importance will be express contract provisions to protect the subcontractor should the general contractor or developer fail to deliver as “green” a building as was initially promised. A green sub-contract should include language stating that ordinary skill and care will be used to achieve the project’s green objective; however, the subcontractor does not warrant or guarantee that those objectives will be met beyond the subcontractor’s limited scope of work.

Further, the sub-contract should also contain express disclosures to protect against unrealistic expectations of the owner or user. One such disclosure should be that a green building does not equate to a “defect-free” building. Similarly, it should be clear that no specific level of energy efficiency or performance is guaranteed. The sub-contract should also include a standard disclosure that new and innovative products and/or technologies may be used and that those products and technologies may lack a proven history. The subcontractor should not expressly guaranty any new product or technology.

As with all projects, the parties to a green contract or sub-contract must contractually account for the uncertainty that may occur during a green building project. It is important to minimize risk where possible.

Although a green building design may carry with it the potential for increased claims and liabilities, taking the precautionary measure of creating a clear contract — which defines realistic performance criteria — provides a simple way to protect both the subcontractor and the owner from disputes arising from unrealistic expectations or ill-defined terms.

Green IconThis article contains a general discussion of the law. This article does not constitute and should not be treated as legal advice as to any particular situation. You should always consult your attorney with regard to contract issues.

Remarkable Stats

  • In the United States, buildings account for 39% of total energy use, 12% of the total water consumption, 68% of electricity consumption and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. Green construction methods are increasingly being used in building projects at all stages from design and construction, to renovation and destruction.
  • In fact, the McGraw Hill 2006 Smart Market Report predicts that green non-residential construction will comprise as much as 10% of all non-residential construction by 2010. This figure represented a sizeable growth potential in the green building market.
Energy Efficiency

Green News Roundup – Energy Efficiency, Green Organizations & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about energy efficiency auditing, promoting your company as a green organization and more.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see in the roundup to kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles about sustainability efforts in the Valley and state.

REEis Provides Independence From High Energy Costs
REEis, a local Valley company that specializes in energy efficiency auditing and contracting is hosting an Independence Day promotion in hopes to get more efficient homes on our streets. Utilizing low cost, energy efficient improvements to our homes and commercial buildings can greatly reduce energy consumption and our dependence on oil and foreign energy sources. “America’s Energy Independence Day Promotion” will be offered for one week starting June 26. REEis is also offering Arizona homeowners a $29 comprehensive energy audit if booked by July 4th. If interested please call (480) 969-7500 or visit the company’s website at: reeishome.com

Is it Energy’s Turn Now?
The New York Times Green Blog looks at the possibility of energy and climate change legislation being in the works for the government. As the financial regulation nears completion, some Democrats are hopeful that this next challenge can be met before Congress leaves town in August.

June Education Forum: Green Marketing
The Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce is hosting their monthly education forum at Rio Salado College on Monday, June 28th at 5:30 p.m. The topic for this month’s forum is exploring best practices for promoting your company as a green organization. Learn about effective strategies to maximize your green marketing efforts and minimize impact on the environment. RSVP to the event here. For full details visit: www.arizonagreenchamber.org/Phoenix/

First U.S. offshore wind energy project faces lawsuit
Environmental groups plan to file suit in federal court against the Obama administration regarding the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. The groups accuse the administration of violating the Endangered Species Act with the approval of the project. The suit states that the project, which calls for a set of 130 wind turbine generators to be installed on Nantucket Sound, would fail to protect endangered birds and whales. Yikes, don’t know how this will pan out but I hope the Obama administration finds a way to work this out amicably.

USA Energy Guide

Green News Roundup – Alternative Energy, USAEnergyGuide & More

I’m always on the lookout for developments in the local sustainability industry. USAEnergyGuide was started by three Arizona entrepreneurs passionate about the environment. Realizing that rebate and tax incentives are hard for consumers to navigate, they jumped at the opportunity to create a site that would be simple and user-friendly.

Originally only for Arizona residents, the site has recently expanded to include California and Texas with plans to add more states in the future. USAEnergyGuide is your free online source used to calculate rebates and savings that you can receive by switching to more sustainable forms of energy.

I had the pleasure of meeting with two of the company’s founders — Michael Barber, director of operations and Ken Bonham, director of business development — who took the time to answer a few questions I had about their company.

What led to the creation of USA Energy Guide?
One of our Founders was going through the process of researching how much it would cost to install solar panels on their home, how much they would save on a monthly and yearly basis and what the tax incentives and rebates were, but couldn’t find a site that answered all these questions. So, we sat down and mapped out how we could make this process easier for consumers.

What challenges did you encouter and how were these overcome?
Similar to many startups we had the classic chicken and egg scenario. In order for the company to be successful, we needed installers who matched our qualification criteria and qualified leads (consumers) who were interested in being contacted by these installers. We worked to introduce ourselves to every installer in the markets we served so they could understand how we could help them be successful and also focused on connecting to consumers via social media. Along the way, various local media outlets stumbled across our site and did stories on us. The press stories and word of mouth helped us overcome both these initial challenges.

What are the company’s full line of  services?
For consumers, we provide simple ways to understand how much money alternative energy would save them, what rebates and incentives are available in their geographic area and all associated rebates for the products they are interested in. For installers, we provide leads to consumers and business owners who are qualified and ready to purchase these products.

What is your favorite aspect of the industry/company?
Our favorite aspect of the sustainability and alternative energy industry is that it is rapidly expanding and changing every day. There are new advances in solar technology and energy efficiency regularly, and more and more consumers are trying to understand how they can minimize their impact on the environment. This makes every day different and pushes our team to understand how we can help both our customers — installers and consumers — reach their goals.

What kind of a role do you think sustainability plays in today’s Arizona economy?
Right now, the sustainability industry in Arizona is only in its infancy. As costs for alternative energy technology decrease and consumers’ interest in living a greener lifestyle increase, the industry has nowhere to go, but up. However (and this is big however), the industry’s Achilles heel is support from local, state and federal governments. Without broad based government support to spur continued growth, the industry could die a quick death.

What has been the company’s greatest achievement to date?
From the beginning our greatest achievement has been providing information to consumers they couldn’t easily find before. Along with this, it’s the stories we hear from people who have used our site, found qualified installers and are now enjoying solar panels or solar water heaters in their home.

What are your future plans for the company?
While we have been primarily focused on the solar and energy efficiency industries, the sustainability industry goes well beyond those two verticals. We have big plans to not only expand the site beyond those verticals, but become a community where visitors can find a wealth of information across a wide variety of sustainability topics, both on a national and local level.

www.usaenergyguide.com

Hybrid Vehicles

Green News Roundup – Electric Vehicles, Spain’s Solar Industry & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green driving, the solar industry in Spain and green Oscar fashion.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to share by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles focusing on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Solar Industry Learns Lessons in Spanish Sun
After the small Spanish town of Puertollano hosted a brief solar power boom in 2008, the government squashed it, cut payments and capped solar construction. This article outlines how the United States, which is dragging behind Europe in solar power, can learn from Spain’s mistakes.

Department of Energy Announces $100 Million Available for Innovative Research Projects
At the inaugural ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit last week, it was announced that $100 million in Recovery Act funding will go toward innovation in green technology. It will also increase America’s competitiveness and create new jobs. The opportunity focuses on three technology areas, including Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage, Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology and Building Energy Efficiency Through Innovative Thermodevices.

10 Innovations That Could Make Us Greener Drivers
With more and more evidence that electric vehicles are the future, here are 10 suggestions – some real and in the works, others farther off and seemingly ridiculous – to help us further save the environment as drivers. According to this, it won’t be long until our cars are driving themselves while we kick back and read a book behind the wheel.

New Vending Machines Stay Cool Without Warming the Planet
The Coca-Cola Co. has come up with a great way to help the environment: vending machines that actually cool the planet as well as the soda. The secret ingredient? Carbon dioxide. Sounds ridiculous, but “fighting fire with fire” may be the best way to combat global warming.

Red Carpet Green Dress: A Catalyst for A Revolution
One of the best parts of the Oscars every year is seeing the beautiful dresses and gowns. This year, James Cameron’s wife set out to prove that the dress making process can be environmentally friendly as well as gorgeous. She created the Red Carpet Green Dress Contest, and her own dress was about 85 percent green.


Photo Credit: reviews.carreview.com

Light Bulb - Power Center

Local Groups Are Working To Protect The Link Between Water And Energy

It’s a given that oil and water don’t mix, but Arizona’s two key resources — water and energy — are inextricably linked.

Experts from the public and private sectors are exploring the water-energy nexus, how the two resources are connected and what needs to be done so Arizona continues to have a sufficient supply of both.

To highlight the importance of water sustainability, Gov. Jan Brewer formed a blue-ribbon panel in August to focus on increased conservation and recycling. She directed Herb Guenther, head of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Ben Grumbles to work with Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Kris Mayes on a plan. Among the issues being considered is the need to recognize the nexus of water and energy. Grumbles says the missing ingredient in water conservation is energy.

“A deeper understanding of the water-energy nexus is the key to saving more water, energy and money,” he says. “Energy efficiency not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions and ratepayer costs, it also reduces the demand for water. By cutting water consumption and waste upstream, we save energy and money downstream, avoiding big costs for pumping, treating and distributing the community’s lifeblood.”

Michelle De Blasi, a partner with Quarles & Brady and chairperson of the Valley Forward energy committee, cites a connection between energy and water, noting that all forms of solar technology use water to a varying degree. Some rely on super-heated steam and cooling towers, while others need an adequate supply of water to keep solar panels clean.

“A lot of people don’t realize that,” she says. She calls the solar-versus-water conundrum “the green paradox.”

A recent trend, De Blasi says, is the conversion of farms to solar properties. Agricultural property is water intensive, so shifting to solar, which uses a lot less water, is generally well received by the public.

“Farming properties offer tracts of flat land, which are ideal for large solar panels, and they have great water rights,” De Blasi says. “And if they’re near transmission lines, that’s even better. You’re getting a net benefit. They’re offsetting that water use and replacing it with energy-producing carbon neutral technology, in most cases.”

According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, irrigated agriculture uses about 73 percent of Arizona’s available water supply, down from a high of 90 percent some years ago. The reduction is the result of urbanization of agricultural lands and investment by the irrigated agriculture industry in conservation measures.

Steve Olson, executive director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, a nonprofit corporation established by municipalities in Maricopa County for the development of urban water resources policy, emphasizes the need for conservation as the demands for energy and water continue to grow.

“We recognize that the era of cheap water is over,” he says. “We need to look at more expensive water supplies further from demand, we have to fully utilize effluent, and we have to store water when it’s available.”

Another issue that brings energy and water together, he says, is climate change.

“If we go to a hotter climate, we can expect more variable water supplies,” Olson says. “There is a direct relationship between drought and energy consumption.”

Salt River Project is the epitome of a water-energy nexus organization, providing both resources to Arizona residents and businesses. Karen Collins, SRP water sustainability analyst and incoming chair of the Valley Forward water committee, is involved in a study to determine how much of the state’s energy usage is related to treat and supply water. A California analysis put the figure for that state at 19 percent.

SRP wants the public to know how much energy is linked to water and how the right choice of plumbing fixtures and appliances saves both water and energy.

“People have to understand that these two resources are linked so closely, as we move forward and have increased needs for both,” Collins says. “Anything we do on the water-saving side is going to help conserve energy.”

Grumbles of ADEQ says Arizonans and the agencies that serve them must connect the dots between water conservation and re-use with environmental and economic sustainability.

“Now, more than ever,” he says, “we must work together to connect the drops and the watts so the water-energy nexus gets the attention it deserves and the water-sustainability movement gets the boost it needs.”

Are Green Jobs Recession Proof

Are Green Jobs Recession-Proof?

The recession has been grim. Every time you read more depressing statistics relating to the world’s economic woes it’s almost impossible to see anything positive. However, there is some news that points to a brighter future. In a previous post I wrote about green jobs leading to a good future and it seems that may in fact be the case.

Newsweek put out a list of ten recession-proof jobs (as recession-proof as you can get these days I guess) and sustainability-related jobs took four spots!

One of them was solar energy, here’s what Newsweek wrote:
“With 80 percent of oil industry employees facing retirement in the next decade, now’s the time for America to invest in renewable energy… And, aside from replenishing the oil and gas industry with younger workers, green energy (including nuclear) will see strong growth and increased employment rates, especially under an administration focused on clean energy initiatives.”

Wind energy was next on the list. According to a 2006 study released by the Renewable Energy Policy Project cited in the Newsweek article, researchers found that 2,000 businesses in Michigan could use wind turbine technology as an employment alternative for ailing auto workers. It went on to state that “as that industry declines, nearly 34,000 new jobs could be created by simply reorienting workers from their current manufacturing jobs to those focused on creating renewable energy for the state.”

Overall green business was also on the list with a continuing demand for eco-oriented project managers, attorneys, engineers, etc.

Energy efficiency was also listed as a recession-proof job, citing the need to fill green jobs that technology has created. As developments of these new technologies continue to flourish, more and more employees will be needed to see these projects through.

I guess it’s safe to say that jobs in the sustainability field are ones that will help us in riding out this recession and moving forward. To me, it’s just another example of why ‘green’ is indeed the way to go.

www.newsweek.com

Solar Power in Arizona

State Incentives – Solar & Renewables

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency was established in 1995 and provides detailed analysis of federal and state incentives for solar and renewable energy throughout the country.

The website notes that the project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), mainly through the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis (PBA). The database is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

This site is a great tool for those beginning the journey of making their homes/businesses more sustainable. From green building incentives to the utility rebate programs this information is definitely worth checking out when researching various green options.

For more information on the database and how Arizona fares in comparison to other states check out their Web site at: www.dsireusa.org


www.ncsc.ncsu.edu
www.irecusa.org
www.eere.energy.gov
www.nrel.gov

The Ubiquitous Topic Of Green Is Popular For A Reason — It Works

The Ubiquitous Topic Of Green Is Popular For A Reason — It Works

Lake Superior State University may not be too well-known, but it does generate some publicity each year with the release of its annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

Those who tire of hearing or reading certain words and phrases go to the Michigan university’s Web site and nominate them for consideration. The big losers for 2009 are the word “green” and such related phrases as “going green.”

Good luck with getting those banished — especially in Arizona.

Many who have been beating the drum for energy efficiency, water conservation and sustainable business practices have found willing ears in executive suites across the state.

General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale is just one company that has proactively embraced standards set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Green Building Rating System.

Genesis Worldwide Enterprises in Cottonwood took a bold step forward in 2005, when it installed an 84-kilowatt photovoltaic power system, which then became the second-largest private commercial solar power system ever installed in Arizona.

It’s impossible to log onto Web sites for such utility companies as Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project or Tucson Electric Power without being directed to information about their green programs and services.

And if none of that is convincing enough, consider this. Light rail has come to the Valley of the Sun with the debut of a 20-mile, $1.4 billion system in late December.

Granted, these are just some of the steps Arizona businesses and municipalities are taking along the road to sustainability. But they are important steps.

“We could get a lot better than we are, but we’re doing pretty darn good,” says Charles Popeck, president and CEO of Green Ideas Inc., an environmental building consulting firm in Phoenix, and one of the founders of the USGBC’s Arizona chapter.

And Popeck sees a general acceptance of sustainability principles throughout the Arizona business community, not just among specific industries such as high-tech firms.

“I’d have to say it’s across the board. Everyone seems to be catching onto it,” he says. “The reason is it’s just common sense. I mean, how can you argue with saving water and saving energy?”

Bonnie Richardson, the new chair of USGBC Arizona, believes the decision to go green usually starts at the top.

“I think it really comes from the corporate philosophy,” she says. “I do think that folks in high-tech businesses have been exposed to more of the new ideas and so they tend to be more willing to embrace and try things out. However, I think we’re now at that tipping point where it just makes good financial sense for businesses to do this, and that’s where it’s going to be a lot easier for people to adopt it.”

John Neville, a sustainable systems consultant and president of the Sedona-based networking organization Sustainable Arizona, emphasizes those financial considerations in terms of a willingness to go green.

“Sustainability means the ability to last,” he says. “And if you look at your business and make business decisions based on the idea that you’re going to last a long time, then you look at your expenses and your income in a different way. If all you’re concerned about is next quarter, then you make your business decisions differently and you’re not going to be sustainable.”

When LEED-accredited professionals like Popeck, Richardson and Neville talk about sustainability and business, they oftentimes are referring to companies and institutions that are seeking one of the various levels of LEED certification.

According to the USGBC, “LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

In fact, the nationally recognized LEED certification system is not just restricted to new construction. There are ratings programs for existing buildings, schools, commercial interiors and retail spaces among several others. Each category has a specific checklist that earns points for applicants. The more points earned, the higher the rating level with basic certification at the low end and the LEED Platinum level at the top.

Those going for new-building certification can earn points, for example, by locating a building on a site that accommodates alternative transportation methods for its employees, maximizes open spaces, utilizes water-efficient landscaping, has on-site sources of renewable energy and implements a construction waste management program.

USGBC Arizona includes a statewide list of completed LEED-certified projects on its Web site.

Popeck argues that green buildings are no more expensive than any other type of new construction.

“I think the biggest misconception out there is that it has to cost more upfront. It certainly does not,” he says.

When costs go up, it’s usually because someone decided to go for LEED certification well after the design process got under way.

“That is a typical problem out there and then people say, ‘Well green building costs more.’ Well it doesn’t really cost more,” Popeck says. “It’s because you designed your building twice that it cost more.”

Companies can recoup some of the expenses involved in greening their buildings through government tax credits and utility company rebate programs. But there are also significant savings from taking a green approach. This can include lowering the price of energy and water, as well as trimming shipping costs by sourcing construction materials locally or rethinking product packaging.

So why isn’t everyone going green these days?

“Of course, the downturn economically has hurt us,” Richardson says. “But I don’t think it was particular to green building. I think it was just across the board because our construction industry here was really devastated and it’s going to take some time for all of that to come back.

“So we’re no different than any other part of the country where the downturn is slowing growth for some of our new businesses and also, perhaps, people aren’t confident to make big investments at this moment.”

Neville seconds that.

“Everyone kind of pulls in during an economic slowdown,” he says. “It’s difficult at times when you have cash-flow issues. It’s very difficult.”

Neville is certainly not opposed to companies jumping into the green movement with both feet, but in some situations he thinks it’s actually better for companies to take incremental steps.

When he works with a business or government entity, they start out by analyzing the organization’s mission.

Neville outlined the process: “You take a look at, ‘What am I trying to accomplish here? How does my business work?’ Whether it’s a business or running a city or running a school, you say: ‘How does this work? What are all my businesses processes? What are the things that really please the customer?’ And then, ‘How can I do those and get rid of the other things that I’m doing that are ridiculous?’

”He points to a printer who saved money while going green by switching from inks containing volatile organic compounds. This eliminated the need for filing a toxic release inventory report every year, which involved hiring an outside firm to conduct an audit.
“Going green is getting better at your job. It’s doing your business better,” Neville says. “Becoming more sustainable is becoming a higher-quality business, a more efficient and effective business. That’s really what it is.”

Richardson, who works as an architect and principal planner for Tempe’s transportation division, says it’s important for those promoting sustainability to make outreach and educational efforts during a downturn.

“As we recover, there will be people with a lot more ideas about what they want to do with their business and what direction they want to go,” she says. “What’s really interesting is that once you get people looking into it, they recognize that there’s significant savings for businesses that decide to grow their business green.”

Anthony Floyd, another LEED-accredited professional, manages Scottsdale’s green building program. His city does a lot more than just talk the talk when it comes to environmentally responsible building.

In 2005, Scottsdale passed a resolution mandating that the city adopt a LEED Gold policy for designing, building and constructing new municipal facilities. The Granite Reef Senior Center, which opened in 2006, became the city’s first such building to earn LEED Gold certification. There is a new fire station that was going through the certification process earlier this year.

The Scottsdale green building program is primarily a residential program, but it plays an important role in terms of influencing commercial entities.

“When we started the residential program, after a few years of that we realized that we needed to start practicing what we were preaching,” Floyd says.

They set the bar high, he says, because “we realized we need to lead by example.”

Floyd serves as a green-strategies resource for various Scottsdale departments, other Arizona communities and numerous organizations. In early 2008, he put together a report for the AZ Minority Green Business Conference titled “Greening the Building Process.”

The report contains pertinent strategies, facts and figures. But it also covers a practice known as “greenwashing.”

“It’s just like whitewashing,” Floyd says. “I mean, there are a lot of companies out there that are advertising themselves as being green. But you really have to look deeper.

“There are multiple attributes to green building and there are shades of green.”

Like manufacturers that freely trumpet the sometimes debatable health benefits of their products, there are others who “mislead consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”

Floyd uses the example of a business that may have sourced some construction material locally and uses that as a reason to promote itself as being green.

“But that’s greenwashing,” he says. “Just one particular product is not going to make a building green. It’s about the strategy and the design, and the combination of materials and resources that determines the overall greenness of the project.

“You can’t just look at water and say you’re green. You can’t just look at energy and say you’re green. In a building, you have to look at everything.”

But water and energy are two important considerations in Arizona, where the first may be scarce before long and the second can be extremely costly during summertime.

“In most of the LEED buildings that are being done, there is real focus on both water and energy,” Richardson says. “And that’s a new tack for Arizona.”

There are various ways to trim the use of potable water, such as installing low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals, harvesting rainwater and landscaping with native plants as Tempe does at its new transportation center.

“As long as water is relatively inexpensive, it’s a little harder to make the case that that investment turns around quickly,” Richardson says. “But I think over the next five years, there’s going to be a lot more discussion about how valuable water is in the desert and how we really need to change attitudes about managing it in a better way.”

Water efficiency is a major issue for Popeck. “It’s my pet peeve, really,” he says. “Yet every time you go into one of these project team meetings, you know, no one seems to get it. Everyone thinks the water’s unlimited. And it’s just really not.”

The need for energy efficiency and renewable energy are not just arguments coming out of Washington, D.C., these days.
Neville likes to say that the least expensive energy around is energy you don’t use. Energy is among the highest expenses on business ledgers.

“Whenever possible,” he wrote in a Sustainable Arizona position paper, “developments should incorporate energy technologies that rely on available, renewable, clean energy sources, such as solar, wind, ground-source, geothermal and other beneficial resources.”

Floyd is similarly inclined.

“If you’re green and you’re in Arizona, you need to be doing renewable energy,” he says. “It’s not an option. If you’re green, you should be generating a portion of your electricity using solar.”

There’s another, equally important part to this strategy, Floyd argues: “You need to start by reducing your energy load by being energy efficient. And then once you do that, you get a bigger bang from your solar buck.”