ENERGY STAR Small Business E-Update
ENERGY STAR® Labeled Buildings Earn Insurance Discount
Fireman's Fund Insurance Company launched its green building insurance for commercial buildings in 2006, and on the fourth anniversary this month began offering a five percent discount to policyholders with buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR. This latest expansion of Firemen's innovative program also includes several new endorsements for policyholders who have made energy efficiency and other environmental upgrades to their property. The discount for ENERGY STAR buildings is "groundbreaking in its recognition of the greater value and lower risks of energy efficient buildings," Alyssa Quarforth, program manager for ENERGY STAR Commercial Properties at the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, said in a statement announcing the program. She added the discount provides "another tangible financial benefit to owners and operators of top-performing buildings, in addition to the reduced energy costs that they are already realizing. For details see the Fireman's Fund press release. There is also more information on how your building can earn the ENERGY STAR label.
ENERGY STAR Helps Auto Plants Improve Energy Efficiency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program has helped improve the energy efficiency of the auto manufacturing industry, which has cut fossil fuel use by 12 percent and reduced greenhouse gases by more than 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide, according to a recent report by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. The emissions reductions, which help to fight climate change, equal the emissions from the electricity use of more than 80,000 homes for a year. Details on the program are available in the EPA Press Release or for more information see http://www.energystar.gov/industry.
Consumers Save with EPA's WaterSense Program®
In 2009, EPA's WaterSense program helped consumers save more than 36 billion gallons of water and $267 million on their water and sewer bills. That's nearly four times as much water as consumers saved with WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and faucet accessories in 2008. EPA created WaterSense in 2006 as a voluntary program to label products that are at least 20 percent more water efficient and perform as well as or better than standard models. With about 17 percent of all residential indoor water use in the United States going to showering, replacing a water-hogging showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model can save enough water each year to wash more than two months' worth of laundry. Like all WaterSense labeled products, showerheads must be independently tested and certified to meet EPA's efficiency and performance criteria before they can earn the label. For additional information on WaterSense labeled showerheads, see their Web site or see the WaterSense accomplishments report.
More Information on Tax Credits for Efficiency Upgrades
Did you know that small businesses may be eligible for tax incentives for energy-efficiency upgrades made to commercial buildings? The way the credits work for commercial buildings (non-residences that pay taxes) is that you need to show energy saved and do not automatically get credit for installing an ENERGY STAR qualified unit or product, which is different than the way incentives are given for residential credits. Per IRS notice 179D, a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot is available to owners or designers of new or existing commercial buildings that save at least 50% of the heating and cooling energy of a building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001. Partial deductions of up to $.60 per square foot can be taken for measures affecting any one of three building systems: the building envelope, lighting, or heating and cooling systems. These tax deductions are available for systems placed in service from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2013. The credits are being administered by the IRS, so although ENERGY STAR can provide you with general information, if you need specific details you may need to speak with your accountant or a representative from the IRS. For information on what falls under the categories "building envelope, lighting, or heating and cooling systems", how to actually measure energy savings, and how to apply for the credits see the following links.
General Tax Information at the ENERGY STAR website, Commercial Building-specific information at the ENERGY STAR websiteor database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)
DOE Helps Launch Global Initiatives at First Clean Energy Ministerial Meeting
DOE has announced that the United States is helping launch 11 international clean energy initiatives designed to cut energy waste, help deploy smart grid and electric vehicle technologies, support renewable energy markets, expand access to clean energy resources and jobs, and support women pursuing careers in clean energy. The announcement was made at the first Clean Energy Ministerial with ministers from 23 governments and the United States representing more than 80 percent of the world's energy consumption participating. The endeavor includes a Global Energy Efficiency Challenge. For details see the DOE press release and Ministerial fact sheet, and the DOE Energy Blog Ministerial discussion Web site.
EIA Predicts Renewables Will Grow Nearly 207% by 2030
The percentage of U.S. electricity produced by non-hydro renewable energy sources will increase from 4 percent in 2009 to 12.3 percent in 2030, according to the "Annual Energy Outlook 2010" released by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The report predicts that renewable energy technologies (excluding hydropower) will represent 41 percent of the new electricity capacity built between 2008 and 2035. In the same time period, EIA projected U.S. primary energy consumption will increase by 14 percent. This represents an average annual growth rate of 0.5 percent, or one-fifth of the projected 2.4 percent annual growth rate of the nation's economic output. See the full report for complete details.
New Labels for Light Bulb Packaging
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced new labels for light bulbs that will emphasize lumens, not watts, as a measure of bulb brightness. Beginning in mid-2011, the packaging must feature bulb brightness measured in lumens, rather than watts, which is a measurement of energy use. Until incandescent bulbs are phased out in the U.S. in 2012, consumers have a choice between them, compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The new packaging is designed to make comparison easier. For more details see the FTC press release.
Green-certified Building Space Expected to Jump 780% by 2020
The total amount of building space certified as eco-friendly is expected to jump from 6 billion square feet at present to 53 billion square feet by 2020, an increase of 780%, according to a Pike Research report. Commercial buildings will account for four-fifths of the new green-certified properties, driven by corporate and governmental policies demanding environmentally responsible office spaces, the report says. For details see an article in EcoHomeMagazine.com
Small Businesses Can Boost Sustainability Scores
Many large corporations such as Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble and Kaiser Permanente are assessing potential suppliers based on their environmental friendliness. To compete for lucrative contracts with the firms, small businesses should keep packaging minimal, carefully select suppliers and make sure the business is energy efficient. Small Business Trends has the details.
Energy Efficiency is Factor in Declining Home Size
The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) reports that the size of new U.S. single-family homes completed in 2009 declined, dropping to a nationwide average of 2,438 square feet and reversing the trend of the past three decades. New single-family homes are now almost 100 square feet smaller than they were in 2007, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. The NAHB identifies lowering energy costs as one factor in the decline and says that the growth of energy-efficiency consciousness is likely to continue. Despite the tendency towards a smaller footprint, overall energy use is growing, possibly because of the spread of air conditioning. The trends also include a lower cost per square foot from the 1970s to today. More information is available in the NAHB press release or on page three of the EIA 2005 "Residential Energy Consumption Survey.
IEA Report: Energy Technology Revolution is Now Underway
A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds early indications that an energy technology revolution is now underway. "Energy Technology Perspectives 2010", reports that global investment in renewable power generation reached an all-time high of $112 billion in 2008, and then remained broadly stable in 2009 despite the economic downturn. The report also notes that many major automakers are adding electrified vehicles to their fleets, and that with the purchase incentives available in many countries, more than 5 million electrified vehicles could be on the road in the next decade. According to the report, to halve energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, renewable power would have to grow rapidly to provide half of the world's electricity. The report discusses problems and solutions as well as suggested goals. See the IEA press release, the Energy Technology Perspectives Web site, and the executive summary of the report.
Featured Product of the Month: Displays
If each computer and monitor in U.S. homes was to sleep when not in use, we would save more than $1 billion in annual energy costs while preventing 15 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of more than 1 million cars. The Version 5.0 ENERGY STAR displays specification covers computer monitors, digital picture frames, and professional signage, collectively referred to as "displays." On average, ENERGY STAR qualified products covered under this specification will be 23 percent more energy efficient than conventional options. ENERGY STAR qualified computer monitors/displays use from 25-60% less electricity than standard models, depending on how they are used. If all displays sold in the US meet this new specification, the energy savings would grow to about $1 billion each year and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from nearly 1.5 million vehicles.
2009 Featured Winner of the Month: Elephants Delicatessen: Portland, OR
Elephants Delicatessen assumed a pioneering role when it opened in 1979 as one of the first providers of gourmet food in the Pacific Northwest. Today, it continues to be a pioneer by demonstrating the highest level of energy efficiency whenever possible and melding energy conservation with an overall commitment to the environment throughout its business operations. The firm has taken an ongoing approach to conservation and energy efficiency, starting with small initiatives and moving forward whenever possible. Most recently, Elephants Delicatessen worked with Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc., to conduct an energy audit and undertake a lighting conversion, with financial support from the Trust, which replaced older T12 fluorescent fixtures with new T8s and installed CFLs. The results are a 50% saving in lighting cost and an ROI of only 1.2 years. Elephants has taken other steps as well and you can learn more about their program and their progress on the winners' web site.