McKinsey: Energy Efficiency Investment Offers Massive Returns

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 15 Feb 2008 16:03:00 GMT

At yesterday’s Investor Summit on Climate Risk, McKinsey’s economic research arm, the McKinsey Global Institute, released the report The Case for Investing in Energy Productivity (lead authors Jaana Remes and Diana Farrell).

The report finds that global investments on the order of $170 billion annually through 2020 ($38 billion in the US) in energy efficiency (what they call “energy productivity”) would deliver annual returns at a rate of 17 percent. Furthermore, these investments would reduce energy demand at half the cost of building out infrastructure to meet that demand. (For a sense of scale, $170 billion is 1.6 percent of global fixed-capital investment today.)

MGI finds some key energy-market failures that block the needed capital outlays:
Fuel subsidies that directly discourage productive energy use; a lack of information available to consumers about the kind of energy productivity choices that are available to them; and agency issues in high-turnover commercial businesses.
The report’s top-line recommendations for repairing these failures:
  • Set energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment
  • Finance energy efficiency upgrades in new buildings and remodels (see Architecture 2030)
  • Raise corporate standards for energy efficiency
  • Invest in energy intermediaries (such as energy service companies aka ESCOs)

For more, read the full report.

Solar Decathlon Awards Ceremony 6

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 19 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

The winner of the Solar Decathlon will be announced at the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the Engineering judging.

The Solar Decathlon competition is being held on the National Mall, Washington D.C., from October 12-20, 2007.

Creating the Solar Village 20

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Student leaders in architecture and engineering from three universities at the US Solar Decathlon on the Mall discuss special features of their leading-edge, solar-powered houses and how their experience has helped shape their future as innovators. Participants are from the University of Colorado, Boulder – a two-time solar Decathlon winner, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) and the University of Maryland, College Park. Panel moderator is Bobbie Faul-Zeitler, editor of Green News Update and mentor to the University of Maryland team. Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian office of Energy Management.

At the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History at 10th Street & Constitution Ave. NW.

Solar Decathlon Showcases Green Homes for Today: How Energy Bill Provisions Can Support High-Performance Homes 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 17 Oct 2007 17:00:00 GMT


Universidad de Puerto Rico house
© Jeff Kubina

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a Congressional briefing featuring the Solar Decathlon and the value of incorporating high-performance “green” design in buildings. The briefing will also discuss how provisions in the pending energy bill can help improve efficient homes. Buildings account for more than 40 percent of annual U.S. energy use and are, in turn, responsible for more than one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Because buildings last many decades, the economic, environmental and health impacts of inefficient building design are long-lasting.

The Solar Decathlon-taking place on the National Mall October 12 – 20- is an exciting competition in which 20 teams of college and university students from across the country, including four international teams, compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The house must also be able to power an electric vehicle as well as be “off the grid.” These solar homes are powerful, comfortable, and stylish. They are relaxed and elegant, wasting neither space nor energy. High efficiency solar houses like these are using readily available technology and designs-not futuristic concepts. But policies like stronger building codes and the solar provisions in the energy bill are essential in helping make our homes greener and much more efficient-saving both energy and money.

  • Rhone Resch, Executive Director, Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Dr. Kaye Brubaker, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
  • Bill Nesmith, Assistant Director for Conservation, Oregon Department of Energy
  • Lowell Ungar, Director of Policy, Alliance to Save Energy

In addition to discussing the Solar Decathlon, the briefing will address the role of codes and standards in building energy efficiency. Measures to promote increased residential building energy efficiency are included in the House energy bill HR 3221, Title IX, Sec. 9031. “Encouraging Stronger Building Codes.” The briefing panel will also discuss the solar provisions in the energy bill, including tax incentives for solar energy.

This briefing is open to the public and no reservations are required. For more information, please contact Fred Beck at fbeck@eesi.org or 202.662.1892.

Solar Decathlon Opening Ceremony 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.

The event takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., October 12 – 20. The team houses are open for touring everyday, except Wednesday, October 17, when they will close for competition purposes. An overall winner is announced on Friday, October 19 at 2 p.m.

Teams of college students design a solar house, knowing from the outset that it must be powered entirely by the sun. In a quest to stretch every last watt of electricity that’s generated by the solar panels on their roofs, the students absorb the lesson that energy is a precious commodity. They strive to innovate, using high-tech materials and design elements in ingenious ways. Along the way, the students learn how to raise funds and communicate about team activities. They collect supplies and talk to contractors. They build their solar houses, learning as they go.

The 20 teams transport their solar houses to the competition site on the National Mall and virtually rebuild them in the solar village. Teams assemble their houses, and then the active phase of the Solar Decathlon begins with an opening ceremony for students, media, and invited guests. The teams compete in contests, and even though this part of the Solar Decathlon gets the most attention, the students really win the competition through the many months of fund raising, planning, designing, analyzing, redesigning, and finally building and improving their homes. The public is invited to tour the solar homes and event exhibits during much of the competition.

Awards Ceremony – Winner Announced: 2:00 p.m., Friday, October 19

Houses Open for Public Tours The public is invited to tour the houses during the open hours, listed below. Expect to stand in line to tour the houses. If you wish to see all of the houses, plan to spend two days.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weekends
  • 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., weekdays

Houses Closed Houses will be closed for 1 – 2 hours while jury evaluations are taking place October 13 – 16 and October 18 – 19. Times vary for each house. All day Wednesday, October 17, the houses are closed for controlled temperature and relative humidity measurements.

Consumer Workshops The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other event sponsors are offering solar energy and energy efficiency workshops for consumers. Workshops will not be offered on Thursday, October 18, during Building Industry Day. See the daily schedule below for workshop offerings.

Ask the Experts Panel Weekends only: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm.

A group of green-building experts, coordinated by sponsor Blue Egg, will be on hand to answer questions. (Each presentation will be 30 min, with 10 min for Q&A)

Educational Exhibits Two educational exhibits are open during the following times:

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weekends
  • 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., weekdays

Architecture 2030 7

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Sep 2007 14:12:00 GMT

Architecture 2030 is an initiative started by architect Edward Mazria (The Passive Solar Energy Book) with two components: the 2030 Challenge, which calls for all new buildings and development to be carbon-neutral by 2030, starting at 50% of the regional energy consumption; and the 2010 Imperative, which calls on all design schools to be carbon neutral by 2010 and achieve complete ecological literacy in design education.

Architecture 2030 is also running ads with the message of no more coal, stating:

Without coal, all the positive efforts underway can make a difference.

Over an 11-year period (1973-1983), the US built approx. 30 billion square feet of new buildings, added approx. 35 million new vehicles and increased real GDP by one trillion dollars while decreasing its energy consumption and CO2 emissions. We don’t need coal, we have what we need: efficient design and proven technologies.

Today, buildings use 76% of all the energy produced at coal plants.

By implementing The 2030 Challenge to reduce building energy use by a minimum of 50%, we negate the need for new coal plants.