Monthly Archives: April 2015

Congress Passes Energy Efficiency Bill S.535

By Mikhail Haramati

Congress passed legislation yesterday to increase energy efficiency in commercial and leased buildings. The bill, one of several promoting efficiency being discussed in Congress this session, will become law if signed by the President. While the requirements in this piece of legislation are modest, the bill passed by wide margins in both houses, demonstrating bi-partisan support for energy efficiency.

S.535, the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015,” was sponsored by Senators Portman and Shaheen, and includes the following:

  • Commercial leasing provisions for federal buildings
  • Creation of a “Tenant Star” program, within Energy Star, to promote and recognize voluntary efficiency by tenants leasing space in commercial buildings.
  • Standards for new grid-tied electric water heaters >75 gallons, containing an “activation lock”
  • Benchmarking and disclosure for commercial buildings, including the creation of a database for compiling building energy use on commercial and MF buildings from programs, certifications, and various mandatory and voluntary disclosure requirements

Click here for the Full Bill Text

Effect of CA’s Water Restriction on Energy Efficiency

By Mikhail Haramati

On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown ordered first-time-ever mandatory water restrictions, amid one of the worst droughts in state history. The executive order requires a 25% reduction of urban water use from 2013 levels. This is the first time water restrictions have ever been imposed, and allows local water agencies to fine water users if they fail to meet the conservation order.

How this will likely impact the energy efficiency industry in California:

  • Reduced statewide energy demand: The Executive Order calls for actions that will lead to reduced energy use for many customers. Because water pumping and treatment is such a large consumer of energy in the state, conserving water will also lead to reduce energy demand.
  • Program attribution: We will see across-the-board decreases in energy use UNRELATED to energy efficiency program activities. Developing program attribution estimates will likely be harder as we try to isolate the effects of the energy efficiency programs individually. We will have to show that the energy reductions we see are not a result of the conservation efforts on their own.
  • New Programs: The Executive Order also creates new programs to install water efficiency measures, including a one year, statewide appliance rebate program for residential customers.
  • Marketing: In addition, urban water suppliers are required to provide marketing and education materials on water usage and conservation. Residential customers will be receiving a lot of messaging to reduce water use, which might affect how receptive they are to energy and climate marketing.
  • Appliance standards: The CEC is directed to adopt emergency standards for water appliances for sale in new and existing buildings.
  • Water energy savings calculation: The CEC and Water Board will also implement a Water Energy Technology program for innovative water management technologies. Savings will be measured in water, energy and GHG gas reductions. Examples include on-site re-use systems, water-use monitoring software, irrigation timing, and renewable-energy powered desalination.
  • Water energy nexus: The energy impacts of the water restrictions highlight the link between water and energy, strengthening the argument for increased coordination between the two industries.