Improving energy performance in buildings is a key strategy for the City of Chicago, which has committed to upholding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. This includes a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025; the city is currently 40% of the way to meeting that goal. Because the energy used in buildings accounts for over 70% of the city’s current greenhouse gas emissions, reducing building energy use is essential to meeting this goal.
October 16-20 is “Careers in Energy Week” for the state of Illinois. Governor Rauner has recognized that a strong and diverse energy workforce is critical to support the large demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy to support Illinois families, communities and businesses. Energy efficiency is a key component to ensure affordability and reliability for years to come.
Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing is off and running in the Midwest. PACE enables homeowners and commercial building owners to finance energy efficiency improvements through a special assessment on their property that is paid back through their tax bill. To date, there are 15 active PACE programs in the MEEA footprint. PACE-enabling legislation exists in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Nebraska, and legislation in Illinois has passed both state legislative houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Scott Davis is a Facility Supervisor for Michigan’s State Facilities Administration (SFA) Building Operations Division. He is responsible for multiple large facilities located at the State Secondary Complex in Dimondale, Michigan. The complex consists of 13 facilities totaling approximately 2.5 million square feet and includes diverse building types for the state police academy, research laboratories, office buildings, warehouses and maintenance garages.
Building system controls that automate the use of HVAC, lighting and ventilation systems in commercial buildings continue to become more sophisticated, and the model energy code is keeping pace with these changes. In fact, since 2004, a third of all changes to the model energy code for commercial buildings are related to building system controls. Given this pace of change, it is reasonable to wonder if building professionals are able to ensure that energy systems are designed, installed and configured properly.
The “Building Energy Awareness” ordinance requires certain buildings to record annual whole-building energy and water consumption data into the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software. City-owned buildings will lead the way benchmarking in the first year under the ordinance. Privately-owned commercial buildings 50,000 sq.ft. and larger will need to comply by April 1, 2018. Both city- and privately-owned buildings will be required to report their consumption information each year thereafter.
St. Louis, Missouri is aiming to become the fifth city in the Midwest with a mandatory energy benchmarking ordinance. On December 9, 2016, Alderman John Coater introduced a potential benchmarking ordinance which would help reduce building energy use, an objective of the city’s Sustainability Plan.
Despite holding several meetings over the last eight months about the proposed 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)/ASHRAE Standard 90.1 -2013 for commercial buildings, the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code Council (CBCC) made several unannounced changes to the proposed rule at their final meeting on November 16 that will result in reduced energy efficiency.
You may not have noticed, but on January 1, 2016, the 2015 Illinois Energy Conservation Code became law, based on the approval from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules at the December hearing. This updated code is an amended version of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) (the latest national model code) and provides minimum energy standards for all new residential and commercial buildings.
November 2015 marked the final month for an innovative pilot conducted by MEEA in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, AEP Ohio, Dayton Power and Light (DP&L), several Ohio commercial product distributors and other groups. The six-month pilot was designed to test a novel incentive program model aimed at distributors of v-belts, a common piece of equipment used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) applications. Cogged v-belts (also known as notched v-belts) are about three percent more efficient at power transmission than smooth v-belts and are commonly recommended to replace smooth v-belts in industrial and commercial energy audits.