About EESI

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The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable societies. EESI believes meeting this goal requires transitions to social and economic patterns that sustain people, the environment and the natural resources upon which present and future generations depend.

EESI advances innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path.
 

What is the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)?

Giving Library-produced overview video featuring our Executive Director Carol Werner

EESI-produced overview video



Our Perspective
The climate crisis is urgent.

Climate change is one of the most serious problems facing civilization today ― impacting our infrastructure, water supply, agriculture, public health, natural ecosystems and more. Scientists and other experts say we must act today to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic changes to the world around us.

The solution is achievable.

Energy efficiency, renewable energy, changes in agriculture, forestry and land use management, and sustainable buildings, transportation and communities can rapidly and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These strategies can also stimulate numerous economic, national security, public health, and environmental benefits.

A healthy climate and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand.

Transforming energy infrastructures, transportation systems, land use management practices, and community designs will create new opportunities for American entrepreneurs and put America back to work.

Energy prices must reflect their true costs.

Fossil fuels are not as cheap as they seem when the environmental, health, security, and other costs paid by society are taken into account. If the federal government corrects this market failure and provides clear, long-term price signals that reflect true energy costs, consumers will quickly shift toward more energy efficient, renewable energy choices.

U.S. leadership is essential.

The United States, as the leading global greenhouse gas emitter over the past century, has a special responsibility to begin dramatic emissions reductions and to help the international community do the same.

Our Approach

EESI was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus in 1984, and today is governed by a diverse Board of Directors made up of environmental, business, academic, and former political leaders. Now an independent organization that receives no Congressional funding, EESI maintains its strong relationship with Congress and serves as a trusted source of credible, non-partisan information on energy and environment solutions.

Policymaker Education

EESI educates Congress and other stakeholders through our highly-respected briefings on Capitol Hill, as well as through fact sheets, policy papers, and newsletters on the latest science, technology, and policy developments.

Coalition Building

EESI facilitates communication among diverse stakeholders ― including environmental, business, consumer, national security, public health and other interests ― and their representatives in Washington, DC. We add value to the policy debate as a convener, framer, and synthesizer of issues and ideas.

Policy Development

EESI works with Congressional offices on both sides of the aisle to develop "win-win" policy solutions that accomplish multiple objectives such as reducing energy costs for consumers, strengthening national security and global competitiveness, cleaning up our air and water, improving public health, creating jobs, and fighting climate change.


Accomplishments

Our top ten accomplishments in 2012 were:

1. Called for increased adaptation, resiliency, and mitigation measures on climate change.

The year 2012 saw two of the most devastating disasters ever to hit the United States: Hurricane Sandy (which accounted for $65 billion in damages) and the yearlong drought across the Midwest ($30 billion in damages). Resiliency became one of EESI’s key themes in 2012, with two major initiatives: the release of a joint EESI-CCAP Report, Preparing Transportation Infrastructure for Increased Climate Risk (later referenced by a Government Accountability Office report) and, in the wake of Sandy, a briefing on the insurance industry's perspective on addressing extreme weather events.


2. Helped develop Energy 101 to spread energy literacy in U.S. colleges.

Giving college students a firm grounding in energy issues is critical if we are to ensure that America achieves energy sustainability. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the University of Maryland, and EESI developed Energy 101, a unique, peer-reviewed model framework for college-level Introduction to Energy courses. Energy 101 introduces students to principles of energy literacy and sustainability, and encourages them to pursue energy careers. Energy 101’s curricular framework was officially unveiled in 2013.


3. Delved into the financial "secret sauce" that will foster the transition to clean energy.

Clean energy projects, although cheaper to run, often require large upfront investments. Making it easy for such projects to tap into low-cost financing is thus a critical piece of the clean energy puzzle. EESI focused on this issue in 2012. Our Clean Energy Financing: What Works? briefing, held in conjunction with the Embassy of Germany, attracted over 150 members of the policy community. The consensus was that a predictable investment climate, featuring stable policies that make it easy for companies to plan over the long-term, is vital.

4. Brought attention to the critical energy implications of the Farm Bill.

Congress began debating a new Farm Bill in 2012. The bill isn't just about farming; it has big implications for America's energy use and security. EESI has engaged with policymakers to emphasize the bill's energy implications. Last year, and as the deliberations continue in 2013, EESI has argued for mandatory funding of the bill's energy title. This title promotes rural development through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and investments in domestic bioenergy. Investing in bioenergy can reduce America's dependence on oil and create jobs in struggling rural areas across the country.


5. Obtained recognition as one of D.C.'s Top Five Environmental Nonprofits.

Thanks to your fantastic reviews, EESI was proud to be recognized by GreatNonprofits as one of only five Top-Rated environmental non-profits in Washington, D.C. Only 1 percent of eligible nonprofits received GreatNonprofits’ coveted Top Rated Award. And 2012 was the second year EESI made the cut (58,000 environmental nonprofits were in the running!). EESI also received Charity Navigator's top rating — Four Stars — in 2012, for the sixth time in a row. This puts EESI in the top 3 percent of the nonprofits Charity Navigator evaluates.

6. Published a blueprint on how to advance high-performance green homes.

EESI coauthored "Blueprint for Advancing High-Performance Homes," which was featured in the Winter 2012 edition of Issues in Science and Technology. Making homes more energy efficient and reducing their environmental impact is a priority: most homes will be around decades from now, so the sooner they are made more sustainable, the better. Sustainability also involves reducing water use, improving indoor air quality, increasing safety, and, of course, making homes more affordable to buy and maintain. We already know how to achieve many of these goals in a cost-effective way, the trick is to disseminate the knowledge. The blueprint proposes several steps to do just that.

7. Released the initial findings for South Carolina's "Help My House" Pilot.

South Carolina’s rural electric cooperatives (co-ops) and EESI released promising preliminary findings from our "Help My House" pilot. The project allowed co-op members to borrow money for energy efficiency improvements to their homes, and repay the loans through their electric bills—a process known as "on-bill financing." The participating households were projected to save an average of more than $400 per year (after loan payments) by reducing their electricity use an average of 35 percent. On July 17, 2012, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, citing the pilot's initial success, announced plans by USDA to establish the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program that could support scaled-up versions of the South Carolina pilot across the country. Separately, the Senate passed language (as part of the Farm Bill) that would create a nationwide on-bill financing program for co-ops.

8. Highlighted China's successes and challenges in clean energy and climate policy.

China is the world's largest emitter of CO2. Its staggering growth rate is putting ever more pressure on the environment. Fortunately, the Chinese government is increasingly aware of the pressing need to make China's growth more sustainable. Why China Is Acting on Clean Energy, an EESI briefing co-sponsored by the World Resources Institute, attracted over 100 attendees, including the head of a federal agency. Our issue brief detailing China’s actions on clean power was widely read and demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, China is working to address climate change.

9. Showcased the rise of electric vehicles and what can be done to speed their deployment.

Amid growing sales of electric drive vehicles (EVs), EESI held a well-attended briefing and released two fact sheets (Plug-in Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Electric Vehicle Deployment) to show policymakers how this progress can be sustained. Greater electrification of our transport sector will bolster our economic and national security by reducing our dependence on oil. It will also reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. These multiple benefits can justify government incentives and consumer education campaigns to help EVs overcome market hurdles.

10. Helped organize the 15th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum.

The year 2012 marked the 15th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum, which was first held in 1997. EESI has been actively involved in the organization of all 15 expos. Each expo is hosted by the Sustainable Energy Coalition – of which EESI is a founder and steering committee member – in cooperation with the House and Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses. Expo 2012 attracted over 550 visitors, 50 exhibitors and 32 speakers, including Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). EESI moderated and recorded the daylong policy forum, and produced 30 exhibitor video interviews to maximize exposure. The event, which showcases both renewable energy and energy efficiency innovations, is a great opportunity for the policy community to network with entrepreneurs and industrialists who are in the vanguard of the clean energy economy.


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Recognition

EESI is proud to have been named a Four Star Charity (the highest possible rating) by the nation’s premiere charity evaluator, Charity Navigator, for six straight years (a feat matched only by three percent of the charities rated by Charity Navigator). Charity Navigator says that a Four Star rating indicates that the charity is "exceptional" and "exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause." EESI is also proud to have received several glowing reviews on Great Nonprofits, a site that allows users to write reviews and rate their experiences with nonprofits. In December 2012, GreatNonprofits awarded a “2012 Top Rated” award to EESI for the second year in a row (fewer than one percent of eligible nonprofits won a place on the 2012 Top-Rated List).

Supporting Our Work

EESI's work would not be possible without the generous support of numerous individuals, foundations, and businesses. You can support our work by making a secure, online donation or by designating EESI through the workplace giving federation Earth Share or the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC#10627). Please click here for more information on donating to EESI. Or click here for other ways to get involved with our issues.





PV installation photo courtesy of DOE/NREL