Category: Energy + Environment

Cities Getting Serious About Light Pollution

New York City enacted two new laws aimed at curbing light pollution for City-owned properties. The proposed legislation allows for exemptions for landmark buildings – enabling the Empire State Building’s color-changing fixtures to continue illuminating the top 30 stories.

New York City enacted two new laws aimed at curbing light pollution for City-owned properties. The proposed legislation allows for exemptions for landmark buildings – enabling the Empire State Building’s color-changing fixtures to continue illuminating the top 30 stories.

In mid-December, NYC enacted the following two laws:

  1. Nighttime illumination during peak bird migration periods (Int 0274-2018)
    The law requires that all non-essential outdoor lighting in buildings owned by the City, or in leased buildings where the City is the only tenant, be turned off between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. during peak avian migration periods. The City is also mandated to use its best efforts to include provisions in lease negotiations to require non-essential outdoor lighting be turned off between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. during peak aviation migration periods for buildings where the City is not the only tenant.
  2. Reducing unnecessary illumination in city-owned spaces (Int 1781-2019)
    This bill requires the installation of occupancy sensors to limit illumination in buildings owned by New York City (City-owned buildings). This requirement applies to spaces in at least 25% of City-owned buildings by 2023; at least 40% of such buildings by 2025; at least 75% of such buildings by 2027; and all such buildings by 2030. This bill also requires periodic reporting regarding compliance with the requirements of this bill.

Two additional bills to reduce light pollution in private buildings are being considered. The full story is here.

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The City of Pittsburgh enacted a “Dark Sky Lighting” ordinance, in August, for all city parks, facilities and streetlights. The ordinance addresses the use of technology, lower color temperature and shielding to minimize the use of outdoor lighting, to only that needed for comfort and safety.

Under the ordinance, the City will adhere to Dark Sky principles for its newly installed or retrofitted streetlights, newly constructed and renovated park spaces and playgrounds as well as newly constructed and renovated City-owned buildings.

The City of Pittsburgh developed the ordinance with assistance and support from the International Dark-Sky Association, Biophilic Cities Network, Carnegie Mellon University and local partners.

The full story is here.

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DLC Releases LUNA Technical Requirements Version 1.0 To Reduce Light Pollution

The Design Lights Consortium (DLC) released LUNA Versions 1.0 Technical Requirements for outdoor LED luminaires. The requirements limit sky glow, light trespass and mitigate light pollution.  LUNA products will appear…

The Design Lights Consortium (DLC) released LUNA Versions 1.0 Technical Requirements for outdoor LED luminaires. The requirements limit sky glow, light trespass and

mitigate light pollution.  LUNA products will appear as a subset of luminaires listed on the SSL Qualified Products List (QPL) and will be eligible for efficiency rebates and incentives designed for SSL V5.1 products. DLC Executive Director and CEO Christina Halfpenny said, “LUNA will streamlin

e the process of selecting efficient outdoor lighting products that minimize sky glow and light trespass while still yielding the efficiency benefits of LED lighting.”

LUNA will also help specifiers to fulfill the light pollution and trespass requirements of LEED and WELL building programs, and help projects follow application guidance in the joint IDA-IES Model Lighting Ordinance. According to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a third of all outdoor lighting in the US is wasted, costing facility owners some $3.3 billion annually and responsible for 21 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

The DLC notes, however, that the technical requirements apply only to white-light LED outdoor products, which does not include non-white (amber) luminaires, which are appropriate for settings such as environmentally sensitive areas. This is because standardized metrics are still in development for non-white light. The DLC anticipates that manufacturers will be able to apply to list products for LUNA qualification on the SSL QPL in the first quarter of 2022.

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Horticulture Lighting and Rebates

According to the Department of Energy, converting all horticultural lighting to LED could realize 40% energy savings, equating to roughly $240 million in annual energy cost savings. As a result, this category is targeted by commercial lighting rebate programs.

According to the Department of Energy, converting all horticultural lighting to LED could realize 40% energy savings, equating to roughly $240 million in annual energy cost savings. As a result, this category is targeted by commercial lighting rebate programs.

According to rebate fulfillment firm BriteSwitch, the number of utilities offering rebates for horticulture lighting has tripled since 2020, with more than 150 programs in North America.

Click here to learn more about horticulture lighting rebates and how they can help your project, including average rebates and tips on how to get them.

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National Governors Association Publishes Whitepaper on Energy Efficiency

A new white paper from the National Governors Association outlines measures states have taken to increase energy efficiency, and steps for governors and states to consider as they continue to examine policy innovations and best practices.

A new white paper from the National Governors Association outlines measures states have taken to increase energy efficiency, and steps for governors and states to consider as they continue to examine policy innovations and best practices.

Energy efficiency is becoming even more important not only as instrumental to least-cost resource planning for power generation (as shown in the graphic), but also as a decarbonization strategy as governments get more serious about addressing climate change.

Energy efficiency measures and their resulting emissions reductions are vital to meeting ambitious state and federal decarbonization goals. Sixteen Governors plus D.C. have ordered or signed into law 100 percent clean energy or zero-carbon electricity generation goals. Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker also signed into law recent climate legislation and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also issued an executive order in 2020 setting a goal of making Louisiana carbon neutral by 2050 and joined the U.S. Climate Alliance in May 2021.3,4 The Biden-Harris Administration has also established decarbonization targets and prioritized energy efficiency by executive order putting “the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050” and setting energy efficiency and renewable energy investment priorities for environmental justice priorities. The recently proposed federal infrastructure plan has a goal of achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and envisions adopting a combined federal clean energy and energy efficiency standard.

Further, energy efficiency reduces building operating costs, enhances energy resiliency and reliability, and fosters economic development.

Lighting is identified several times as a staple energy efficiency measure, but interestingly, the whitepaper’s authors also eye the strong potential for data-generating building automation:

Energy efficiency plays an important role in meeting state energy and environmental goals. Now, in addition to traditional energy efficiency measures that are often thought of as LED lighting and energy efficient appliances, new digital and data-driven solutions, such as building automation, are creating new opportunities for Governors and state energy policymakers to pursue.

Over the past 20 years, energy intensity, or energy use relative to economic output, has been cut in half, and is expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 1.5% through 2050. To take advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption, Governors have a robust set of policy levers and tools they can consider, which are outlined in the paper.

Click here to check it out.

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Coalition Calls for Fluorescent Lighting Ban

To mitigate the risks posed by mercury, the Clean Lighting Coalition is calling on the Biden Administration to support the global phase-out of fluorescent lighting by 2025 at the upcoming meeting of the United Nation’s Minamata Convention on Mercury in March 2022.

A new report by the Clean Lighting Coalition highlights the environmental and health risks posed when fluorescent lamps break, especially to vulnerable populations. The report provides concrete steps government, industry, consumers, and others, like childcare providers, can take to accelerate the transition to LED lighting, which is mercury-free, more energy-efficient, more cost-effective, and widely available.

To mitigate the risks posed by mercury, the Coalition is calling on the Biden Administration to support the global phase-out of fluorescent lighting by 2025 at the upcoming meeting of the United Nation’s Minamata Convention on Mercury in March 2022. The Coalition said that phasing out fluorescent lighting aligns with the Administration’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad issued earlier in 2021.

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EIA Projects Big Increases in Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions Through 2050

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that, absent significant changes in policy or technology, world energy consumption will grow by nearly 50% between 2020 and 2050.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that, absent significant changes in policy or technology, world energy consumption will grow by nearly 50% between 2020 and 2050. In its International Energy Outlook 2021 (IEO2021), EIA projects that strong economic growth, particularly in developing economies in Asia, will drive global increases in energy consumption despite pandemic-related declines and long-term improvements in energy efficiency.

If current policy and technology trends continue, global energy consumption and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will increase through 2050 as a result of population and economic growth.
According to the IEO2021 Reference case, which projects future energy trends based on current laws and regulations, renewable energy consumption has the strongest growth among energy sources through 2050. Liquid fuels remain the largest source of energy consumption, driven largely by the industrial and transportation sectors.

“Even with growth in renewable energy, without significant policy changes or technological breakthroughs, we project increasing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions through 2050,” said EIA Acting Administrator Stephen Nalley.

Renewables will be the primary source for new electricity generation, but natural gas, coal, and increasingly batteries will be used to help meet load and support grid reliability.

EIA projects electricity generation to almost double in developing non-OECD countries by 2050. Falling technology costs and favorable laws and regulations mean that much of the new electricity generation will come from renewable energy sources, although natural gas, coal, and batteries will remain critical parts of the electric grid, backing up solar and wind resources.

“The worldwide push to generate more electricity from renewables and also increase electric grid reliability could push more expansion of battery storage on a global scale,” Nalley said.

Oil and natural gas production will continue to grow, mainly to support increasing energy consumption in developing Asian economies.

Driven by increasing populations and fast-growing economies, EIA projects that consumption of liquid fuels will grow the most in non-OECD Asia, where total energy consumption nearly doubles from 2020 to 2050. EIA projects that consumption will outpace production in these countries, driving an increase in imports of crude oil or finished petroleum products, primarily from the Middle East.

“The fast-growing economies in Asia could combine to become the largest importer of natural gas and crude oil by 2050, given their significant increase in energy consumption,” Nalley said.

The full IEO2021 is available on the EIA website here.

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Study: Nocturnal Moth Populations Affected by Street Lighting

Reported by the BBC, a recent UK study discovered that street lighting disrupted the behavior of nocturnal moths, reducing caterpillar population by half.

Insect populations are declining at an alarming rate, with potentially deep, harmful impacts on ecosystems, due to a range of factors including climate change and pesticides. Scientists have also postulated that street lighting may be harmful as well.

Reported by the BBC, a recent UK study discovered that street lighting disrupted the behavior of nocturnal moths, reducing caterpillar population by half.

“In a local setting we can now be quite confident that light pollution is important, but what’s less clear is if we’re looking at a whole landscape,” said lead researcher Douglas Boyes of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. “If insects are in trouble – as we believe they are, and have evidence to support that – perhaps we should be doing all we can to reduce these negative influences.”

Click here to get the whole story.

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A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings

Working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group has developed A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings. The Roadmap outlines DOE’s national goal to triple the energy efficiency and demand flexibility of the buildings sector by 2030, relative to 2020 levels.

Working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group has developed A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings. The Roadmap outlines DOE’s national goal to triple the energy efficiency and demand flexibility of the buildings sector by 2030, relative to 2020 levels. It also defines technology attributes, integration considerations, and barriers to achieving the full potential, adoption and deployment of GEB. DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) makes 14 recommendations to overcome those barriers in “action steps” that all key industry stakeholders can take–starting today–to expand the prevalence of grid-interactivity in buildings.

The Roadmap defines a GEB as:

Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) are energy-efficient buildings with smart technologies characterized by the active use of distributed energy resources (DERs) to optimize energy use for grid services, occupant needs and preferences, and cost reductions in a continuous and integrated way. In doing so, GEBs can play a key role in promoting greater affordability, resilience, environmental performance, and reliability across the U.S. electric power system.

By combining smart technologies and distributed energy resources with energy efficient buildings, GEBs can provide comfort and convenience for building occupants, sell services to the power grid, and cut costs and pollution. The Roadmap finds that over the next two decades, GEBs could deliver between $100 and 200 billion in savings to the U.S. power system and cut CO2 emissions by 80 million tons per year by 2030, or 6% of total power sector CO2 emissions. That is more than the annual emissions of 50 medium-sized coal plants, or 17 million cars.

Click here to download the Roadmap.

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AGC Launches New Initiative To Address Climate Change

Construction officials outlined a series of steps public officials and the construction industry should take to address the impacts of the built environment on climate change. The new initiative from the Associated General Contractors of America is designed to lessen the carbon footprint of the built environment while also making the process of building projects even more efficient.

Construction officials outlined a series of steps public officials and the construction industry should take to address the impacts of the built environment on climate change. The new initiative from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is designed to lessen the carbon footprint of the built environment while also making the process of building projects even more efficient.

According to AGC, construction activity accounts for less than two percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Meanwhile, the built environment accounts for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, while the new initiative includes steps construction firms can take to operate more efficiently, the bulk of the effort is focused on pushing for public and private project owners to build more efficient projects and discovering how we can also support them in that process.

Among the measures outlined in the new initiative include calling for a national strategy to invest in physical infrastructure that will make communities more resilient. The association is also calling for an increase in investments and funding opportunities for public and private infrastructure to build more efficient highways, water plants and other facilities.

Public officials should also invest in modernizing federal buildings to make them more efficient. The association is also calling for expanding tax incentives and deductions to encourage the private sector to build more efficient buildings. And the group is calling for expedited permitting for projects that improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Association officials also identified steps contractors can take to operate more efficiently. This includes encouraging equipment manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of their equipment, helping firms learn how to reduce equipment idling and sharing information about industry innovations like solar powered job site trailers and energy-efficient job site lighting.

The new initiative was crafted by a special climate change task force for the association created earlier this year.  Representatives from 18 different member firms participated in the task force meetings and helped craft the recommendations outlined in the initiative.

Click here to view details of the association’s new climate change initiative.

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The Case for Dark Skies

This article by Laura Paddison, published on the BBC’s website, lays out a case for comprehensively tackling light pollution. It’s not just about protecting views of the night sky but also the environment.

This article by Laura Paddison, published on the BBC’s website, lays out a case for comprehensively tackling light pollution. It’s not just about protecting views of the night sky but also the environment.

It is estimated that between 100 million and one billion birds die every year from flying into buildings in the US, with artificial lights thought to play a major role in the death toll. But the effects of light pollution on the natural world is thought to be far greater still.

The culprit isn’t just street lighting:

A study published last year looking at how much light from Tucson was visible from space revealed that the city’s street lights contributed only 18% of the light pollution. The smart street lighting reduced this to 13%, but the bulk of the light emanating out from the city came from advertising billboards, floodlights, buildings with their lights on, facade lighting, parking lots and sports stadiums.

Currently, multiple countries, 17 states, and numerous municipalities have legislation in place addressing light pollution.

Click here to check it out.

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