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.
On March 22, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution initiating the NextGrid Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid will be an 18-month collaborative process to explore the ways in which alternative utility regulatory models, advances in technology, and consumer preferences and engagement can shape the grid of the future. This initiative will build upon the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative and the recent Future Energy Jobs Act.
There are many paths to building a highly energy efficient new home, including Passivehaus, Living Building Challenge and the soon-to-be-released ASHRAE 90.2 standard. Policies designed to save energy are also driving up demand for efficient housing. California, for example, will soon require that all new homes be zero net energy.
Given increasing interest for such innovative homes, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which people across the country are able to just pick their favorite energy efficient home from a subdivision full of zero net energy (ZNE) homes.
Multifamily housing is a substantial portion of the housing stock in Midwestern states, making up 11-22% of the housing market, depending on the state. Energy efficiency for multifamily housing seems like a sure bet. Estimates show possible energy savings in multifamily affordable housing as high as 22-31%.
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.
MEEA successfully gave a workshop style presentation on energy data acquisition at the Affordable Energy Association’s 2015 Multifamily Buildings Conference in Brooklyn, NY on October 28-30, 2015. Together with Ellen M. Sargent, Chicago Housing Authority; and Ryan Snow, USGBC National; Steve Kismohr from MEEA brought concepts and related activities on how to engage Building Asset Managers to acquire base building information and manage energy use.
On July 16, Illinois State University hosted the annual Illinois Renewable Energy Conference, and for the first time ever, the 2015 conference incorporated an energy efficiency track into the conference’s breakout sessions alongside wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. MEEA served on the conference planning committee and convened the three energy efficiency breakout sessions, which were focused on energy efficiency policies, case studies and technical information.
Congratulations to the University of Minnesota’s “Team OptiMN” who won the Department of Energy’s Race to Zero Student Design Competition last month in Golden, Colorado!
The team, led by students Laurel Johnston, Peter Schneider, Cavan Wagg and Collin Coltman, bested 32 other teams from across the country in a competition to create a cost-effective home that uses little to no energy by optimizing energy efficiency and utilizing renewable resources. The team was also overseen by Professor Pat Huelman, who worked alongside MEEA on the development of Minnesota’s new building energy code.
On April 29, MEEA held a Legislative Breakfast event at Café Moxo in downtown Springfield, IL. The breakfast, attended by around 40 participants, including several state legislators, showcased businesses and organizations implementing energy efficiency programs, highlighting in particular the economic benefit derived directly from such programs.
Jacob Preciado, the Construction Manager at the Archdiocese of Chicago, explained that in some of their churches the boilers are over 100 years old. Because the parishes all have to self-finance these improvements with a limited budget, utility rebates were vital for making upgrades possible.