Category: Energy + Environment

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.

Comments Off on AGC Launches New Initiative To Address Climate Change

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.

Comments Off on The Case for Dark Skies

Another Promising Year for Lighting Rebates

Offered by many utilities and energy efficiency organizations, commercial lighting rebates are a longstanding driver in demand for energy-efficient lighting and controls in existing buildings. The rebate outlook for 2021 looks very positive for distributors who rely on them to sweeten upgrade proposals.

Below is my contribution to the May issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Reprinted with permission.

 

Offered by many utilities and energy efficiency organizations, commercial lighting rebates are a longstanding driver in demand for energy-efficient lighting and controls in existing buildings. The rebate outlook for 2021 looks very positive for distributors who rely on them to sweeten upgrade proposals.

In review, many utilities offer rebates as an incentive to consume less energy, which helps them avoid the higher cost of building new power plants. While custom rebates are available, the majority are prescriptive, with a cash amount awarded per installed qualifying product and with the rebate capped at a maximum percentage of its cost.

According to BriteSwitch, a rebate fulfillment firm that analyzes rebate trends, rebates vary in impact by typically covering anywhere from 10 to 70 percent of the product cost, with an average 20 to 25 percent payback improvement. Increasingly, rebate programs have structured away from offering “free rides” to ensure the owner shoulders part of the cost. With weak demand in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, however, a significant number of utilities offered temporary bonus rebates to boost participation.

In 2021, three-fourths of the United States remains covered by a lighting rebate program, fairly consistent from 2020 with a notable exception: Ohio. With the passage of the state’s controversial Bill 6 in late 2019, Ohio’s major investor-owned utilities discontinued their energy efficiency programs at the end of 2020.

LED products

In LED lighting, the most popular rebates continue to target LED replacement lamps, downlights, high-bays, parking garage luminaires, troffers/linear panels, and outdoor, as shown in Table 1. In short, a wide variety of lamp and luminaires covering a majority of applications.

“In 2021, the rebate amounts for LEDs are relatively flat from 2020,” said Leendert Jan Enthoven, President, BriteSwitch (www.BriteSwitch.com). “This in itself is quite remarkable because for the past 10 years, they have dropped 10 to 20 percent each year. Usually, the decrease we’d see was to match the dropping prices of LED, but a weak market and leveling out of prices meant they didn’t have to adjust much for 2021.”

A majority of rebate programs qualify products by requiring listing on the DesignLights Consortium’s (DLC) Qualified Products List. In 2020, Version 5.0 of the DLC technical requirements was to take effect, which DLC pushed to February 2021 due to the pandemic. Version 5.0 raised the minimum required efficacy for LED products while requiring reporting of dimming capability; DLC Premium products generally must be dimmable.

On December 31, 2021, Version 5.1 listing becomes required to qualify for rebates. Version 5.1 expands reporting of various lighting quality attributes while requiring dimming for a broad range of products, with continuous dimming required for most indoor luminaires and retrofit kits.

“With Version 5.0, solutions installed in the marketplace now are more efficient than they were before,” said Enthoven. “It presents some complexity for distributors as their older products in stock may no longer qualify for rebates once delisted from the current DLC list.”

Version 5.0 may also be impacting the availability of rebate programs promoting DLC Premium products. Some programs rebated only these higher-efficacy products or incentivized it with a bonus rebate. Enthoven said the number of these rebates dropped in 2021, possibly due to the higher efficacy required for standard listed products.

Lighting controls

The 2021 rebate picture for lighting controls looks much the same as it did in 2020, with fairly consistent, substantial rebates available for remote-mounted, wallbox, and luminaire-mounted occupancy sensors; photocells; and daylight dimming systems, as shown in Table 2.

“Lighting control rebates have historically been very stable, changing little over the past 12 years,” Enthoven said. “In 2021, control rebates are similar to previous years. For standalone sensors, the rebates are still relatively high compared to the cost, making it an easy add-on for most projects. With DLC Version 5.1 making dimmability more important in many categories at the end of the year, it will be interesting to see how rebate programs adapt in 2022.”

What’s new in lighting control rebates is the recent entry of networked lighting controls into the rebate market. In 2020, the number of programs increased 15 percent to 95; in 2021, however, only three new programs were added, suggesting utilities are still wrestling with how to incentivize the category.

Enthoven said the majority of these rebates offer a per-fixture adder for connecting to a networked lighting control system and require the system be qualified under the DLC’s Qualified Products List for Networked Lighting Controls. The most common luminaire types with additional networked control rebates are troffers, high-bays, and low-bays. Outside of these programs, networked controls may be eligible for rebate under custom programs.

Getting the rebate

Including rebates in project quotes can help obtain customer approval by improving return on investment. Securing rebates, however, requires administration. The rebate must be identified and understood, paperwork must be submitted, and pre-approval must be gained. Enthoven said the rebate process takes an average 12 steps over five months to complete, requiring either in-house resources or outsourcing to a firm like BriteSwitch.

Below are some tips on managing the rebate process:

  • In typical prescriptive product rebate programs, the rebate is paid directly to the customer, though some “midstream” or “instant” lighting rebate programs, typically geared around lamps told for retrofits, involve the distributor providing the rebate at the point of sale. Get to know the program so you understand its requirements, and then follow the program to keep abreast of changes and funding level.
  • Taking the rebate amount off the invoice can be risky, as rebates are not guaranteed or may pay out a lower-than-expected amount. Available funds may tap out during the year. And note that a majority of rebate programs cap the rebate at a percentage of the material or project cost—meaning if a customer is paying $150 for an LED high bay and the rebate is $150 capped at 50 percent of the material cost, the resulting rebate would be $75.
  • Pre-approval is required in a majority of programs before installation, so build that time into the project if needed.
  • The time for rebate pre-approval and final checks to be issued increased considerably in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic; file for pre-approval as soon as possible and ensure the customer understands payment may take time.
  • A majority of programs require the product be listed with ENERGY STAR (lamps) or DLC (lamps and luminaires). Make sure the exact model for a selected product is listed.
  • Some programs require inspection to verify installation. In the COVID era, this may be done remotely using a camera rather than onsite.

Rebate estimates should be included on every quote that you send out to a customer,” said Enthoven. “There is no easier way to take the pressure off of your margin than to show the ‘discount’ from the rebate program. Even if you’re not filing the rebates on the customer’s behalf, your knowledge and expertise on the subject is invaluable to them and make you stand apart from the competition.”

Comments Off on Another Promising Year for Lighting Rebates

BriteSwitch on Rebates Covering Field-Adjustable Luminaires

Over the past couple of years, LED manufacturers have introduced field-adjustable LED fixtures into the market. They are different from the traditional controllable/dimmable fixtures most people are familiar with; rather than the user dynamically adjusting the light level or color temperature, these field-adjustable fixtures are typically set once during installation and left that way. With the rapid growth of this category of LED products, utility rebate fulfillment provider BriteSwitch looked into how rebate programs treat them.

Over the past couple of years, LED manufacturers have introduced field-adjustable LED fixtures into the market. They are different from the traditional controllable/dimmable fixtures most people are familiar with; rather than the user dynamically adjusting the light level or color temperature, these field-adjustable fixtures are typically set once during installation and left that way. With the rapid growth of this category of LED products, utility rebate fulfillment provider BriteSwitch looked into how rebate programs treat them.

In an article published on the company’s website, BriteSwitch defines field-adjustable luminaires, confirms they qualify for rebates, looks at average rebates for these products, and examines how utilities treat them, whether the rebate is adjusted based on maximum wattage.

Click here to check it out.

Comments Off on BriteSwitch on Rebates Covering Field-Adjustable Luminaires

Dennis Shelden and Robert Karlicek to Co-lead New Rensselaer-based Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently announced the launch of the new Rensselaer Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS).

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently announced the launch of the new Rensselaer Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS).

Formed in partnership with Siemens, Lutron Electronics, Brooklyn Law School, the building engineering consulting firm Thornton Tomasetti, and the international architecture firms HKS, OBMI, and Perkins&Will, the New York City-based institute will use the most advanced digital technologies to drive decarbonization of urban environments at the systems level. Dennis Shelden and Robert Karlicek, the heads of two prominent research centers at Rennselaer, will serve as co-directors.

EBESS will model integrated transportation, communications, and supply chain networks. It will link architectural design and engineering to create infrastructure that is both net-zero in energy use and climate resilient. It will also use new materials, renewable energy systems, and sentient building platforms to maximize human health and well-being.

The new institute will integrate research across centers and schools at Rensselaer, including the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) and the Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) Center. From its primary location in New York City, CASE has driven collaborative innovation in sustainable architecture and the built environment for more than a decade. LESA is a graduated National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center dedicated to developing autonomous intelligent systems to address modern challenges in the connected environment.

Comments Off on Dennis Shelden and Robert Karlicek to Co-lead New Rensselaer-based Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems

Light Produces Hovering Ship Off Cornish Coast

David Morris was on the Cornish coast when he saw an astonishing sight: a ship seemingly floating in the air above the water.

David Morris was on the Cornish coast when he saw an astonishing sight: a ship seemingly floating in the air above the water.

A meteorologist explained this is a superior mirage produced by a rare atmospheric condition called temperature inversion, where cold air blankets the sea below a layer of warm air. The denser cold air bends light, producing the mirage.

(Hap tip Dan Hadash of Optics Lighting for letting me know about this one.)

Check it out here at the BBC website. And here for a separate sighting.

Comments Off on Light Produces Hovering Ship Off Cornish Coast

Carbon Neutrality: Lessons Learned

In this post at Signify’s blog, CEO Eric Rondolat describes major lessons learned by Signify in its efforts to become a carbon-neutral company.

In this post at Signify’s blog, CEO Eric Rondolat describes major lessons learned by Signify in its efforts to become a carbon-neutral company.

The major takeaways are:

* Embrace change by making carbon neutrality core to organizational strategy
* Understand your organization’s energy use
* Embrace renewable energy
* Offset for unavoidable emissions
* Partner with like-minded advocates

Click here to check it out.

Comments Off on Carbon Neutrality: Lessons Learned

States Adopt New Energy-Saving Rules, But COVID Slows Progress

More U.S. states have adopted or advanced new energy-saving targets and vehicle and appliance rules, but COVID-19 slowed other efficiency efforts, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. For the first time in four years, California took first place nationwide, edging out Massachusetts, the leader in the Northeast. Rounding out this year’s top 10 are Massachusetts (#2), Vermont (#3), Rhode Island (#4), New York (#5), Maryland (#6), Connecticut (#7), Washington, DC (#8), and Minnesota and Oregon (tied for #9).

More U.S. states have adopted or advanced new energy-saving targets and vehicle and appliance rules, but COVID-19 slowed other efficiency efforts, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. For the first time in four years, California took first place nationwide, edging out Massachusetts, the leader in the Northeast. Rounding out this year’s top 10 are Massachusetts (#2), Vermont (#3), Rhode Island (#4), New York (#5), Maryland (#6), Connecticut (#7), Washington, DC (#8), and Minnesota and Oregon (tied for #9).

The 50-state scorecard (which also includes Washington, DC) found that states, many of which have set ambitious climate goals since 2018, had to abruptly shift their focus this year to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the deadly global pandemic. Across the country, energy efficiency workers lost jobs—with an estimated more than 300,000 still unemployed—pointing to the need for policymakers to help get them back to work.

While some efficiency efforts stalled, others advanced before or during the pandemic. In California, for example, utility regulators in January approved $45 million in incentives for high-efficiency heat pump water heaters=. In September, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling for the phase-out of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

“A number of states see that they have to act aggressively now to cut carbon emissions, but others just aren’t acting urgently. We need to see more states follow the leaders here, and quickly. Aggressive state policies combatting climate change are absolutely necessary no matter what gets done in Washington,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director. “In this pandemic and recession, policymakers can embrace efficiency efforts to help residents reduce their utility bills and to get more people back to work, all while cutting pollution.”

Check out the below graphic and click here to learn more about how your state did.

Comments Off on States Adopt New Energy-Saving Rules, But COVID Slows Progress

How Will the New DLC 5.0 Standard Affect Rebates?

In February 2020, the Design Lights Consortium finalized the technical specifications for the next generation of LED products. These new requirements, versions 5.0 and 5.1, are designed to help usher in new levels of energy efficiency, light quality, and controllability. The DLC started certifying products under the new v5 spec earlier this year, and they will remove older products that don’t meet this certification on December 31, 2020. This change can have a significant impact on the potential rebates a project may receive.

In February 2020, the Design Lights Consortium finalized the technical specifications for the next generation of LED products. These new requirements, versions 5.0 and 5.1, are designed to help usher in new levels of energy efficiency, light quality, and controllability.

The DLC started certifying products under the new v5 spec earlier this year, and they will remove older products that don’t meet this certification on December 31, 2020. This change can have a significant impact on the potential rebates a project may receive.

In this article by rebate fulfillment firm BriteSwitch, the company answers questions about what is DLC and how it affects rebates, how the change to DLC 5.0 will impact rebates, and the outlook for rebates in 2021.

Click here to check it out.

Comments Off on How Will the New DLC 5.0 Standard Affect Rebates?

Signify Announces Carbon Neutrality

Signify has announced that it has achieved carbon neutrality for all its operations across the world as well as using 100% renewable electricity. While the company progresses towards its remaining commitments for 2020, it will already embark on a new five-year journey in which it will focus on doubling its impact.

Signify has announced that it has achieved carbon neutrality for all its operations across the world as well as using 100% renewable electricity. While the company progresses towards its remaining commitments for 2020, it will already embark on a new five-year journey in which it will focus on doubling its impact.

Signify has reduced its operational emissions by more than 70% since 2010, having shifted to more energy-efficient technologies at its sites, to more sustainable modes of transport and optimized logistics planning, and to less travel in a more sustainable way. It also uses 100% renewable electricity, supported through two power purchase agreements, one in Texas and a second in Poland. The balance of emission reductions is achieved through a carbon offsetting program with projects aimed at benefiting the wellbeing of local communities.

Click here to learn more.

Comments Off on Signify Announces Carbon Neutrality

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search