Category Archives: Green Building

Environment America Launches a 10-state campaign calling for all new homes to be built with solar panels

Environment America News Release

BOSTON — In January 2020, California became the first state to require all new houses to be built with solar panels. Today, Environment America is launching a first-of-its-kind campaign calling on additional states across the country to set similar standards for solar power on new homes. The coordinated national campaign will advocate for a solar homes requirement in at least ten states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. While each state may have slightly different goals, the campaign’s intention is to introduce bills in 10 states in the next two years. Continue reading here.

ACCELERATING ADOPTION OF COMMUNITY SOLAR

New US Solar Power Scheme Aims At Invisible Middle, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica
A vast middle ground of opportunity for solar power development is ripe for the picking if only somebody could see where it is. Well, the US Department of Energy sees it, and is determined to pick it. The agency is moving forward with a plan to kickstart activity in the area of mid-sized arrays ranging from 50 kilowatts to 3 megawatts. That may sound like peanuts, but it includes the important community solar sector, so — wait, what is community solar anyways?

ENERGY STORAGE

The magnificent seven: US states with energy storage mandates, targets and goals, Energy Storage News. The US national Energy Storage Association’s policy director, Jason Burwen, spoke with Andy Colthorpe about the seven early adopter states and whether this is likely to be a spreading pattern across the country.

OPPD IN THE NEWS

TRADE ASSOCIATIONS’ STATEMENTS ON HOUSE $1.5 TRILLION INFRASTRUCTURE BILL 

GREEN BIZ’S “30 UNDER 30” AWARDS

The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30, GreenBiz Editors
We are proud to introduce our fifth annual cohort of twentysomethings who are sustainability leaders within — and without — their companies, nonprofits and communities. The Class of 2020 hails from seven countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Taiwan, and they are tackling diverse challenges — from cultivating a more sustainable food system to advocating for climate justice on behalf of disadvantaged communities to testing best practices for circular cities to negotiating impactful renewable energy contracts. The list of their accomplishments is long and growing longer by the day, and they’re just getting started.

AGRIVOLTAICS

Pollinator-Saving Solar Panels: Good for Farmers, Good for Business, by Tina Casey, Triple Pundit. Conventional solar arrays typically force farmers to choose between raising crops and generating electricity in order to survive financially. However, a new body of research called agrivoltaics is demonstrating that farmers can have the best of both worlds. A recent report the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for example, indicates that properly designed, low-impact solar arrays can be compatible with agricultural use.

MORE ON AMERICA’S RENEWABLES INVESTMENT ATTRACTIVENESS

ALSO IN THE NEWS

TRANSITION IN COAL COUNTRY: PART ONE

EV NEWS

Is this electric plane the future of flying?, GreenBiz article contributed by David Elliott, Senior Writer, World Economic Forum. The world’s largest all-electric plane has completed its maiden voyage, flying for 30 minutes in the skies above Washington state. Its safe landing in Moses Lake, about 186.5 miles southeast of Seattle, is a milestone in a dream that’s been floating about since the late 1800s — air travel powered by electricity.

Midlands Voices: Acting on key goals can give cities a needed boost, Norfolk mayor says

By Josh Moenning, Omaha World-Herald

“The best way out is through.” As Robert Frost penned these words many years ago, he likely couldn’t have envisioned an environment quite like the one we find ourselves in now.

Nevertheless, the lesson applies today just as it did then. As we navigate periods of hardship and uncertainty, the most effective approach to coping is not paralysis or dithering, it’s perseverance and unrelenting focus on pushing forward.

Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED OP-ED

Republicans must lead on clean energy jobs, by John Ruckelshaus, Republican State Senator from Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Star

Job creation is a bipartisan concern. Conservatives at all levels of government increasingly recognize that commonsense, market-based clean energy policies can put Americans to work while reducing carbon emissions. This was certainly the belief of my uncle, William Ruckelshaus, who was the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Nixon and later returned under President Reagan. The trend among conservative voters, especially the next generation, has never been more clearly in favor of clean energy. A Pew Research Center study showed that 78% of young Republicans say the U.S. should prioritize advanced energy sources over expanding fossil fuels.

 MORE ON ACORE’S NEW MACRO GRID INITIATIVE

A national US power grid would make electricity cheaper and cleaner, Vox
The areas of the US with the most renewable energy potential are not necessarily the ones that need the most energy. A report from the Wind Energy Association found that the 15 states between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River — Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana — account for 87 of the nation’s total wind energy potential and 56 percent of its utility-scale solar potential, but are only projected to account for 30 percent of the nation’s energy demand in 2050.

Macro Grid Initiative

MACRO VERSUS MICRO GRIDS

Macrogrids Or Microgrids: Which Is The Key To The Renewable Energy Revolution?, CleanTechnica. Arguing about macro versus micro is like arguing whether battery storage is better than pumped hydro. The truth is that both have a role to play in the renewable energy future. There are instances where gravity storage may be the best answer. The factor that is driving all these debates is that renewable energy facilities cost less to construct and can become operational in far less time than coal, gas, or nuclear generating installations. As costs continue to fall, there will be more money available to provide the resiliency we need to complete the renewable energy revolution while lowering the cost of electricity consumers pay.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Salt Lake school board vows to create ‘more environmentally sustainable schools’, Deseret News
With the objective of establishing “healthier, more environmentally sustainable schools,” the Salt Lake City Board of Education has adopted a resolution that calls on the school district to meet all of its energy needs with carbon-neutral energy no later than 2040. The resolution includes incremental goals that build on ongoing efforts by district staff to reduce energy consumption and lessen the school distribution footprint.

GROUP SOLAR INSTALLATION PROGRAM

Virginia solar program on track to maintain momentum despite pandemic, Energy News Network. Every spring since 2015, the Local Energy Alliance Program has helped dozens of northern Virginians navigate the intricacies of powering their homes with solar panels. Contractors have installed more than 3 megawatts of capacity on 372 houses and businesses.

RENEWABLE ENERGY OUTLEASING

Federal courthouses might be prime spots for new solar panels, Federal News Network
The Green Building Advisory Committee drafted a recommendation letter to the General Services Administration for piloting renewable energy outleasing on federal properties. Outleasing is the practice of renting vacant or unused space on agency buildings, such as rooftops and parking lots, to utility companies which then install their equipment. According to the committee, GSA uses outleasing for renting roof space for antenna placement by telecommunications companies. And members suggested more could be done in a public-private partnership model.

CORPORATE RENEWABLES BUYERS

Wind deals are becoming even more popular with corporate renewables buyers, GreenBiz
According to “Wind Powers American Business,” a report from the wind advocacy group American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the private sector has been a significant demand driver for wind energy, purchasing more 20 percent of all new wind installations in the United States for five years running. Of course, corporations’ appetite for renewables is increasing across the board. Corporations are a similar driver behind solar, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). They collectively accounted for 22 percent of 2018 power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar and wind in the United States. Still, the increase in wind projects, I wondered: What trends are driving corporations to pick more wind deals?

TESLA HOME SOLAR SYSTEMS

The Lowest Price for Home Solar, Tesla News Release
Today we are introducing the lowest-ever cost to go solar in the United States. Our average system size is now one-third less expensive than the industry average and we have recently introduced a lowest-price guarantee. If you change your mind after purchasing or are unhappy with the system, we will uninstall it and issue a full refund within seven days from system turn on.

GEOTHERMAL INNOVATION

In Minnesota, a geothermal innovation revives interest in systems’ potential, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network. A heat exchange technology developed at the University of Minnesota could help shrink the cost and footprint of geothermal heating and cooling systems. Unlike conventional geothermal, which circulates ground heat found far below the surface, the approach taps into aquifers using fewer, shallower wells. A startup company, Darcy Solutions, has begun pitching the product to commercial and industrial businesses in the Twin Cities.

ORPHANED OIL & GAS WELLS

Special Report: Millions of abandoned oil wells are leaking methane, a climate menace, Reuters
The U.S. figures are sobering: More than 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells together emitted 281 kilotons of methane in 2018, according to the data, which was included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent report on April 14 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s the climate-damage equivalent of consuming about 16 million barrels of crude oil, according to an EPA calculation, or about as much as the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, uses in a typical day.

Related news from Canada: Collapsed Alberta energy company leaves behind 401 ‘orphan’ wells in B.C., more than doubling total, CBC News

CLIMATE STATEMENTS FROM WORLD RELIGIOUS LEADERS

40 Newly Selected Ventures Reimagine the “ABCs” of Building Construction to Enhance the Affordability and Effectiveness of Energy-Saving Measures

Department of Energy News Release

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Technologies Office (BTO) awarded $26.3 million to 40 competitively selected projects, led by 29 organizations, to pursue innovations that can advance the goals of BTO’s Advanced Building Construction with Energy-Efficient Technologies & Practices (ABC) Funding Opportunity. The funding opportunity underpins the Advanced Building Construction Initiative, one of BTO’s principal efforts to unlock deeper energy savings in the U.S. building sector, which still consumes 40% of the nation’s energy and 75% of its electricity.

Through this funding opportunity, BTO is investing in new technologies that can enable superior building energy performance, without disrupting occupant comfort, and can be deployed quickly, affordably, with minimal onsite construction in the existing building stock as well as new construction.

19 projects were selected under the topic: Advanced Technology Integration, including the following:

  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Lincoln, Nebraska) will conduct a field assessment of commercial and multifamily modular buildings compared to traditional construction methods.
  • Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (Chicago, Illinois) will develop an advanced training for Nebraska, supporting trends in building energy efficiency and building science, including grid-integrated efficient building practices.

Read more here.

Sustainability-linked loans soar as green bond issues slow

By Sara E. Murphy, Contributor, GreenBiz Group

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF) data, total sustainable debt issuance surpassed $1 trillion in 2019, in what BNEF characterized as “a landmark moment for the market.” Some mechanisms for verification and setting standards already have emerged, including the Green Loan Principles promulgated in March 2018. Building on those principles, the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles (PDF) (SLLPs) were launched this March. The framework features four core components: Learn more here.

Sara E. Murphy is a consultant and freelance writer on sustainable investment and corporate responsibility, with a focus on climate change and extractive industries. Her articles have appeared in the Motley Fool and Responsible Investor.

BIFACIAL SOLAR MODULE EXEMPTION NEWS

Court Temporarily Halts Trump Administration’s U-Turn on Bifacial Solar Modules, Greentech Media The bifacial solar module exemption lives to fight another day in a provisional win for developers like Invenergy.

THE SOLINATOR GARDEN

Colorado’s Solinator Garden completed by Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar, Solar Builder
Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar – two Colorado-based solar firms that work nationwide – have completed The Solinator Garden, a 1-megawatt solar array at Kyle Ave in Fort Collins. The system involved over 100 Colorado-based people, including staff at Namasté Solar, Solaris Energy, and the Fort Collins Utilities as part of their Solar Power Purchase Program (SP3). The Solinator Garden is named to highlight the project’s use of land underneath and around the solar panels to provide a healthy habitat for local pollinator species. 

TRI-STATE

Tri-State Generation and Transmission sells electricity to 43 distribution cooperatives in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

  • Changing energy landscape shakes up rural co-ops, Albuquerque Journal
    This is the first part of a three-day series exploring how rural electric cooperatives served by wholesale power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission are struggling to meet new renewable energy and carbon-reduction mandates and transition to a cleaner, lower-cost grid. The co-ops want freedom to build or purchase a lot more renewable energy independent of Tri-State, which limits self-generation by its member utilities to 5% of their total electric load, meaning 95% of their power must come exclusively from Tri-State under long-term agreements that stretch to 2050.
  • Kit Carson Electric expects to be at 100% daytime solar by 2021, Mountain Town News
    In 2016, the coop began negotiating with wholesale provider Tri-State Generation and Transmission for an exit fee. It also hooked up with Guzman Energy, then a new full-requirements power supplier. With Guzman paying the $37 million exit fee, Kit Carson and Guzman in 2017 accelerated investments in solar energy.
  • For Colorado energy provider, the future of coal looks increasingly grim, Energy News Network

NEW EV REPORT

Incentives for EVS, charging infrastructure are key Q3 trend, American Public Power Association Among the top electric vehicle policy trends in the third quarter of 2019 was financial incentives for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, with the majority of incentives under consideration being rebate programs, a new report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center said.

Executive Summary: 50 States Of Electric Vehicles, NC Clean Energy Technology Center

EC TOOL FOR CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS

Building Transparency.Org: Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3)
EC3 is a free, industry-supported, construction-specific material search and planning tool that helps construction professionals quantify EC, find high-impact reductions, and guide procurement to reduce embodied carbon. Embodied Carbon (EC) makes up most of the 2030 climate impact of a typical new office building. EC is the CO2 emitted in producing materials for a building, e.g. concrete, steel, glass, and timber. Substantial emissions come from both the energy and the chemistry involved, and are about 8% of global emissions.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

A SERIES FOR CHILDREN

Curious Kids: how do solar panels work, The Conversation AU
The Sun produces a lot of energy called solar energy. Australia gets 20,000 times more energy from the Sun each day than we do from oil, gas and coal. This solar energy will continue for as long as the Sun lives, which is another 5 billion years.

Additional Recommended Reading: Curious Kids: how does electricity work?

States March toward 100% Clean Energy–Who’s Next?

By Jeff Deyette, Director of State Policy & Analysis, Clean Energy,
Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

Eight states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico (not pictured here) have committed to 100% Renewable or Clean Energy Standards. Another 13 states are actively considering similar measures.

One year ago this week, the California legislature passed landmark legislation committing the state’s power providers to supplying 60% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and setting a target of 100% clean, or carbon-free, power by mid century. It was a bold action that significantly raised the bar for other states considering policy action. And over the last 12 months, another six states (bringing the total to eight states) plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have answered the call with various obligations toward 100% clean energy over the next few decades. What’s driving this surge in state-level clean energy leadership? And which states will be the next to step up? Read more here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY NEWS NETWORK ARTICLES

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Industry Calls on FERC to Enforce PURPA, Increase Competition
The proposal provides utilities with a new framework for offering competitive solicitations based on their integrated resource plans, while also complying with PURPA’s requirement to purchase energy and capacity from small renewable and cogeneration facilities. SEIA’s competitive bidding solution is designed to prevent utility self-dealing while opening the market for new capacity to independent developers.

PACE FINANCING

  • Green builders lean on a juggernaut loan program, The Philadelphia Tribune
    Developers grappling with the cost of new laws enacted to combat climate change are taking advantage of a little-known finance tool to help pay for green-building requirements. In Omaha, Nebraska, for instance, the Capitol District, a $205 million mixed-use entertainment development, has become the latest milestone in a long-running effort to revitalize the downtown area. The project’s developer, Shamrock Development, tapped a PACE program to pay for LED lighting, heat pumps, low-flow water fixtures, and other building materials and equipment to enhance energy and water efficiency.
  • In Chicago, a new financing tool for clean energy and efficiency upgrades, Energy News Network
    Advocates see strong potential in Chicago and surrounding areas for property assessed clean energy financing to boost investments.

RECYCLING EV BATTERIES

MORE ON UTAH’S SONNEN & RMP VIRTUAL POWER PLANT

Rocky Mountain Power prepares to operate largest US residential battery demand response project, Utility Dive. “In my opinion, this is the most transformative project we’ve worked on in the United States,” Sonnen CEO Blake Richetta told Utility Dive. That’s coming from a company that has installed more than 40,000 batteries globally and already developed multiple Virtual Power Plants that combine residential energy systems into grid resources. But Richetta, who took the helm at Sonnen earlier this year, said the Utah project stands out for multiple reasons.

Rocky Mountain Power is a division of PacifiCorp, a fully-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Previously Posted

The $9 trillion dollar man

By John Weaver, PV Magazine

A presidential candidate is pushing $300 billion per year of U.S. government investment – with hopes to pull in a complementary $600 billion per year in private investment – to aim for $9 trillion in investment over the course of a decade. Sounds like a lot of money until we think about the United States subsidizing fossils to the tune of $649 billion a year, and estimates that the U.S. gross domestic product could fall by 10% – more than $2 trillion per year – due to costs associated with climate change. Jay Inslee has introduced his Evergreen Economy Plan as part of his presidential election campaign. The plan has five major planks that include many individual legislative actions. Read more here.

FEDERAL LEGISLATION

U.S. Green Bank Act of 2019 Would Provide $10 Billion+ of Capital to State and Local Green Banks, Coalition for Green Capital. The Green Bank Act of 2019 would inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy to accelerate clean energy deployment, grow clean energy businesses, and deliver affordable clean energy to all Americans. The members of the global Green Bank Network and the American Green Bank Consortium have already shown that public investment in clean energy deployment drives greater total investment, job growth and lower energy costs. The bill creates a new USGB as a wholly owned corporation of the U.S. government, housed within Treasury. It would be capitalized through the issuance of federal Green Bonds.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

RESEARCH

GREEN BUILDING

Cambria Hotel Omaha Downtown: Cambria Hotels Celebrates Its First Hotel To Open In The Cornhusker State, Choice Hotels International Announcement. The LEED Silver Certified hotel incorporates a number of eco-friendly features throughout the building, including a solar array on the roof, a salt water pool that reduces chemical usage, Tesla and electric vehicle charging stations, and locally-sourced, recycled building materials.

Additional Nebraska LEED Certified Projects, US Green Building Council

Building the tiny house of the future

Written by Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Dr. Bing Chen, Ph.D., UNL Professor of electrical and computer engineering, is “developing the area’s first sustainable small house.”

It is a project the former chair of the computer and electronics department feels will be a disruptive technology. Chen said it will change the way he and other baby boomers find alternative housing solutions during their golden years.

Dr. Chen is partnering with OPPD and other groups on the Small Sustainable House.
Construction will begin this summer on UNO’s main campus. With so many baby boomers
ready to enter their next phase, Chen said, good affordable housing is a growing need all over the country. Read more here.

Prototype Image: Chen said the home is well-insulated and can be heated with just 16 candles. The home will have 32 PV solar collectors on the roof to generate electricity and have a whole-house battery storage system.

Final hurdle cleared in California’s solar mandate for new homes

By Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

In the words of Kelly Knutsen, it’s officially official. Today the California Building Standards Commission unanimously voted to confirm a change to the state’s building code which will require that all newly built low-rise (three stories or less) residential units in the state either incorporate rooftop solar or hold a community solar contract, starting in 2020.

“These highly energy efficient and solar-powered homes will save families money on their energy bills from the moment they walk through their front door,” stated Knutsen, the director of technology advancement for the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA). Knutsen also notes that this will include a solar plus storage option. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Lincoln, Nebraska-based GRNE Solar, “The Sun Haven.”

 

News Release: California Solar Building Requirement Crosses Finish Line, Solar Energy Industries Association

 

Morrissey Engineering

Inside Business, Omaha World-Herald

Morrissey Engineering announced that its headquarters, the 4940 Building, has been awarded LEED Platinum certification under the v4.1 O+M beta rating system. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

This is the second LEED Platinum certification for the 4940 Building, which became the first Platinum certified project in the state of Nebraska in 2009 as part of original construction. The certification is also the first of its kind in the U.S. Continue reading here.

www.morrisseyengineering.com

Note: Jared Friesen, NABCEP-Certified Renewable Energy Specialist with Morrissey Engineering, is Nebraskans for Solar’s immediate Past President, having served as President in 2017. Nebraskans for Solar’s board has the governance structure of President, President-Elect and Past President.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Henry Doorly Zoo Solar Shade Canopy Utilizing Bifacial Solar Panels

  • OPPD, UNMC partner on state’s largest rooftop solar array, The Wire, OPPD Blog
    The UNMC campus will soon house 1,487 solar panels in a rooftop solar installation atop three campus buildings: the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education, Truhlsen Eye Institute, and the Harold M. and Beverly Maurer Center for Public Health. The panels will generate up to 500 kilowatts of solar-powered electricity to help power UNMC, beginning in 2019. Morrissey Engineering also provided design services and project management for solar installations at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s Skyfari station at the Africa Grasslands exhibit, Lincoln Electric System’s Service Center, the Bellevue Public Safety building, and several Baxter auto dealerships in Lincoln and Omaha.
  • Five ‘Solar-Ready’ Building Preparation Tips, written by Jared Friesen