Summer is just getting into full swing, and across the country some communities are already roasting. Perhaps uncoincidentally, the process to adopt energy benchmarking policies is also heating up. Because buildings contribute to a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions, benchmarking policies are often part of city and state energy and climate plans. By tracking reliable and consistent energy consumption data, these policies can enable better decision-making around building energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
In interviews with Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) implementers and agencies, a key programmatic challenge cited was walkaway rates. Walkaways happen when a home is unable to be weatherized due to a structural or health and safety issue, like a hole in the roof, flooding, hoarding and more. WAPs in the Midwest receive their funding largely from two sources, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Some states receive additional funding from local utilities, but that is not consistent throughout the region.
MEEA’s policy team has spent 2019 traveling throughout the Midwest to meet with state legislators, regulators and policymakers. MEEA serves as the region’s trusted source on energy efficiency and promotes how states can maximize energy savings pursuant to their specific policies. We share regional best practices and research with governors’ administrations, legislators and regulatory bodies as they develop energy plans, policy priorities or other state and local policy initiatives. The 2018 state election results presented ample opportunity for MEEA to act as a positive, nonpartisan voice for energy efficiency.
Recreational cannabis hits the shelves January 1, 2020 in both Illinois and Michigan. How will the race to market impact energy use?
Growing cannabis is an energy-intensive process, and as cultivators focus on getting product ready as quickly as possible, it will be easy for energy efficiency to get pushed to the backburner and energy consumption to rise.
Democratic Governor Dayton of Minnesota and Republican Governor Snyder of Michigan hail from opposite sides of the aisle; yet, in a time of political polarization, these two governors found a common cause: energy efficiency. Not only have they used their positions to advance energy efficiency, but they did do in states with Republican supermajorities in both state legislative chambers. As governors they reduced energy waste and shaped their states’ energy policies, creating new jobs and setting their constituents up for promising clean energy futures.
Home energy ratings are experiencing a growing role in energy code compliance. HERS Raters, in particular, often provide third-party verification services for minimum and above-code programs, including traditional compliance pathways contained in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and more recently the Energy Rating Index (ERI) pathway. In recognition of this trend, the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned a study exploring the consistency and replicability of the HERS system, and in anticipation of HERS Raters assuming a greater role in energy code compliance.
The 2018 midterm elections brought significant voter participation, with turnout breaking levels not seen since the 1960s. Nationally, this enthusiasm shifted power in the U.S. House of Representatives back to the Democrats, while Republicans increased their control of the U.S. Senate. A total of nine House seats in the Midwest flipped to Democratic-control—in addition to two seats in Minnesota changing from Democratic to Republican.
Building efficiency experts from around the Midwest convened in Ann Arbor, MI on November 15-16 for the 8th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference. This was the first time this conference was hosted in Michigan, which helped MEEA and attendees understand the unique challenges to the Michigan building community and provided critical local perspectives to better inform future building energy code policy. In past years, MEEA had the opportunity to host this conference and learn from local groups in Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois.