EESI Update 15 - Fall 2010


Fall 2010


Contents


Partnering with Electric Co-ops to Help Rural Americans Save Energy and Cut Bills


The Drummond-Henking family celebrates their energy retrofit as part of the "Help My House" trial project in South Carolina, which will be further developed by EESI and partners into a Rural Energy Savings Program. Image courtesy Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.In October, EESI announced it will partner with electric cooperatives in South Carolina to pioneer an innovative approach to scale up residential energy efficiency retrofits. EESI is working closely with the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and Central Power Electric Cooperative, the state's generation and transmission co-op, to develop and implement a pilot project for a Rural Energy Savings Program. The program aims to ultimately reduce the electricity demand of the South Carolina co-ops by 20 percent and avoid the cost of building a new power plant.

The program will employ "on-bill financing," which allows borrowers to repay loans for retrofit work through charges on their utility bills. Two-thirds of the savings achieved from the retrofit on any given home will be used to repay the loan, while one-third will go to reduce the customer's bill, so that the household will see an immediate savings. Retrofit costs are expected to average less than $5,000 and be repaid within 10 years.

EESI, thanks to the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is involved in designing the pilot project of the Rural Energy Savings Program, verifying its cost effectiveness, and disseminating the lessons learned from the pilot to help inform the development of comparable programs in other states. EESI will also advise and help inform the development of a potential national program. (Federal legislation creating such a program passed the House of Representatives in October and has strong bipartisan support in the Senate where the bill is now pending.) Another strong motivation for replicating this program is the job creation potential – a statewide program in South Carolina is expected to initially create 3,500 private-sector jobs for energy auditors and retrofit installers alone. As Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the lead sponsor on the House-side federal legislation, emphasized, “these are jobs that cannot be exported.” For more information on the Rural Energy Savings Program, please visit www.eesi.org/resp.




Update from the Director


The need to transition to a clean energy economy, to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to provide respected global leadership is more urgent than ever. With the fall elections behind us, now is the time to pause, reflect, and then recommit ourselves with thoughtfulness and determination as we take up the challenges before us in the new Congress and state governments across the country.

The relentless disinformation campaign seeking to undermine action on climate and clean energy policy is a disservice to the country. Instead, we need to focus on the opportunities that will be generated if we focus on technological leadership and tap our enormous local renewable and efficiency resources. Our recent forum with the Nordic Council illustrated how economically positive it has been for the Nordic countries to move away from fossil energy. And think of all the recent news about investments being made by China in a host of large-scale renewable energy projects, battery development, and electric cars, making that nation ever more competitive in the global marketplace. It is also important to understand how our national security is tied to our energy choices. Certainly the Department of Defense has made this connection and is implementing many exciting energy efficiency and renewable energy projects – a topic we will continue to highlight in the coming year.

What kind of path will emerge in the 112th Congress? EESI will continue to provide policymakers with solid, non-partisan information and analysis, and help Congressional offices develop policy that meets multiple environmental, economic, consumer, health, and security goals. As we prepare to work with the incoming Congress on these critical issues, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to EESI today by clicking here.

To all our network partners and donors, thank you for your continued support! You are what keeps EESI going, and we wish you all a wonderful holiday season!





Carol Werner
Executive Director




Reducing Black Carbon: Good for Public Health and the Climate



A Guatemalan woman uses an inefficient cookstove that emits black carbon. Image courtesy National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Black carbon is a component of soot which comes from diesel engines, inefficient cookstoves that are widely used in the developing world, and open burning of agricultural lands and forests. It’s a major health threat, most severely for women and children that do the cooking in developing countries, but also for anyone inhaling exhaust from inefficient diesel trucks and buses. Black carbon also contributes to climate change, by absorbing solar radiation in the atmosphere and – after it falls to the ground – by reducing the reflectivity of snow and ice, causing them to melt more rapidly. Because black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only days or weeks, reducing these emissions has a much faster climate benefit compared to reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane (which can remain in the atmosphere for decades or centuries).

On November 9, EESI held a briefing for Congressional staff outlining the impacts on health and climate change associated with black carbon, as well as existing technologies and policy options to reduce black carbon emissions. Two of the solutions discussed were diesel particulate filters – on which every $1 spent would save $12 in avoided health damages – and clean cookstoves, which could prevent some of the 1.5 million premature deaths that occur each year from indoor smoke in the developing world. Please click here for more details from this briefing, including video.

EESI will also work with the Climate Institute, United Nations Foundation, and other groups to sponsor a workshop on black carbon to coincide with the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. The session will take place from 3:00-6:00 p.m. on December 8, 2010 at Le Meridien Hotel Cancun. EESI Board Member Claudine Schneider will co-chair the discussion, which will examine several strategies and technologies to reduce black carbon emissions, with an emphasis on international actions.




EESI Receives Top Charity Rating for Fourth Year in a Row


Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest evaluator of nonprofit organizations, recently awarded the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) its fourth consecutive Four Star Charity rating. Only nine percent of the nonprofits evaluated by Charity Navigator have achieved at least four straight 4-star evaluations, as EESI has. Charity Navigator’s President and CEO, Ken Berger, recently wrote to EESI to congratulate the organization on the achievement. Berger said that the rating indicates that EESI “consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America. This ‘exceptional’ designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Environmental and Energy Study Institute from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.” EESI is proud to continue to be a Four Star Charity.




Please Remember EESI in Your Year-End Giving Plans
…and help advance innovative energy and climate policies!


As an independent nonprofit that receives no Congressional funding, EESI educates Congress and other stakeholders and builds networks and coalitions to develop innovative policy solutions. Working together, we can reach our mutual goals: a strong, energy-efficient economy, solutions to global warming, and sustainable communities—when we have the financial backing of people like you.

Please make a year-end gift to EESI today—or set up a pledge to support EESI all year long! It’s easy. Donate the way that makes sense for you:

  1. Click here to make a secure online donation using your credit card — a single gift, monthly, or quarterly.
  2. Include EESI in your workplace giving pledge. If you’re a federal employee or in the military, designate CFC#10627. If your workplace participates in United Way of the National Capital Area, we’re #0921. Most state employees and many private-sector and nonprofit employees can give to EESI through EarthShare. Ask your HR Department about pledging to EESI through workplace giving today!
  3. Mail a check to EESI at 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 300; Washington, DC 20036.

Thank you for your support!


Why Give to EESI?

We are:

  • Credible — EESI attracts world-class briefing speakers and provides critical information. Congressional offices and other stakeholders listen and seek our advice.
  • Creative — The policy solutions we bring to Congress accomplish multiple goals: solutions to environmental challenges, job creation, national security, economic competitiveness, and a more sustainable world.
  • Successful — We have affected numerous policy initiatives covering transportation, buildings, energy, water, air, climate change, and sustainable agriculture and forestry.
  • Recognized — We have received Charity Navigator’s highest rating for four years. Charity Navigator says that a nonprofit with this rating is “exceptional” and “exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause."




Putting Waste Heat and Renewable Thermal Energy to Use


District energy pipes are exposed under a street in Helsinki, Finland. Image courtesy City of Helsinki.More than 30 percent of all U.S. energy consumption is used to heat and cool buildings and industrial processes, and the majority of this thermal energy comes from fossil fuels such as heating oil, natural gas, and coal. The good news is that there are two sources of thermal energy that can replace these fossil fuels: renewable energy (such as biomass, geothermal, solar, cold lake water, etc.) and the “waste” heat already being generated by power plants and industry. The technology that allows us to use renewable thermal energy and waste heat is called district energy – a series of pipes that bring water and/or steam to multiple buildings for space heating, domestic hot water, or air conditioning. By helping communities reduce their fossil fuel use, district energy systems bring several benefits, including keeping more energy dollars in the local economy, reducing emissions, and giving individual buildings more leasable space because boilers, chillers, chimneys, and other equipment can be removed.

This fall, EESI continued its work to educate policymakers on district energy as a proven strategy to use energy more efficiently and help integrate more renewable energy into our mix. Our September 16 briefing explored the advantages of district energy and policy solutions needed to accelerate deployment of these systems. District energy was also a recurring strategy brought up by the speakers from the Nordic countries at our October 21 briefing on low carbon economies (see article below). For example, 93 percent of buildings in Helsinki, Finland are heated by a district energy system – providing an efficient use for the waste heat generated by power plants and the city’s new data center. In the United States, while district energy systems are successfully deployed in all 50 states, there are still many opportunities to expand existing systems or build new ones. EESI will continue to work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to advance policy solutions that will help accelerate deployment of these systems.




Learning from the Nordic Example


EESI has partnered with several embassies in recent years to bring energy and climate success stories from other nations to American policymakers. On October 21, EESI and the Nordic Council (representing Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland), held a Congressional briefing examining how and why Nordic countries have achieved global leadership in low carbon technologies, transitioned to low carbon economies, and strengthened their economic competitiveness. The panel, which included government and industry leaders from the Nordic countries, told the story of how their nations responded to the oil crises of the 1970s by investing heavily in energy efficiency and renewable energy – and how this has proven to be a successful economic strategy. For example, Danish consumption of energy has remained flat over the last 28 years, while its economy has grown by 78 percent. And since 1990, Sweden has reduced emissions by 12 percent, while its GDP has risen 48 percent. The briefing was attended by all five Nordic Ambassadors as well as staff from numerous Congressional offices and federal agencies. For more information, including video, please click here.




Sustainable Affordable Housing


High performance manufactured home built as part of a FEMA pilot project. Image courtesy Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.EESI has continued to examine the role of federal procurement by agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as a means through which to improve the quality of manufactured housing. We have held countless meetings with agency officials, industry and Congressional offices, in addition to our most recent Congressional forum on this topic in September. What our briefings have shown is that high performance manufactured housing can be produced that is energy efficient and disaster resilient, and has good indoor air quality – at comparable cost to what agencies like FEMA have been paying. That is the good news. Obtaining stronger building codes has proved difficult and time consuming. Once again that makes government ‘leadership by example’ crucial in shining a light on industry leaders who are showing the way to high performance manufactured housing – an important part of affordable housing.




EESI’s New Chairman of the Board


Jared Blum, Incoming EESI Board ChairmanIn December, Dick Ottinger will step down from his position as EESI Board Chairman, and will be replaced by Jared Blum, president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association. As a former Member of Congress and one of EESI’s founding members, Dick has been essential to EESI’s success over the past few decades. “EESI has played a unique role informing Members and their staffs of environmental and energy issues and forming coalitions of interested organizations to support environmentally sound legislation,” says Dick. “Today it has an independent Board of outstanding former Members of Congress and concerned NGO, business and union organization representatives, and a superb staff.”

Dick continues, “It has been a great honor to serve as one of EESI’s founding members and as long-time Chair of its Board. I am delighted that Jared Blum, President of PIMA, long and ably serving as EESI Secretary-Treasurer, will be taking over as Chair of the Board. I am sure that under his leadership and that of Carol and the staff, EESI will continue to be an important factor in advancing sound environmental and energy legislation and regulation in these very challenging times.”

During Jared Blum’s tenure at PIMA, a trade association for energy efficient insulation manufacturers and suppliers, PIMA was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the International Climate Protection Award – the only association in 1999 to receive this prestigious award. As PIMA’s President, Jared also has served on the High Performance Building Council and testified before Congress. When asked about what EESI’s role will be in the coming years, Jared says, “I am excited about the challenges awaiting EESI. In our fundamental role of educating policy makers, we will confront rapidly changing science that supports positive action on topics ranging from climate change, to biofuels to smart growth. That science requires that EESI continue to provide the balanced forum for which it has become so well regarded and in which innovative policy solutions are developed.”

EESI is honored to have Jared as our new Chairman, and we look forward to continue working with Dick as our Chairman Emeritus.




Matthew Johnson Joins EESI


Matthew Johnson joined the EESI team in November as its new Energy and Climate Policy Associate. Matthew will be responsible for organizing EESI’s Congressional briefings on energy and climate issues in addition to participating in coalition building efforts, working on energy and climate policy, and writing factsheets, reports, and the weekly Climate Change News. Matthew comes to EESI from Public Citizen’s Texas office, where he worked on advancing clean energy policy at the state and local levels with a focus on energy efficiency. He earned his MA in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont.




Focusing on Community Energy


Stamford, Connecticut has created local energy improvement districts to coordinate and finance the development of distributed and renewable energy systems.

Within our overall efforts to promote and accelerate a transition to a clean energy economy, EESI has launched a new initiative with a special focus on “community energy”. The initiative is intended to help communities make greater use of local renewable energy and energy efficiency resources — focusing in particular on ways for multiple households and businesses to collectively develop, own, or otherwise share the costs and benefits of local energy. Such collective approaches can help scale up and accelerate the penetration of energy efficiency and renewable energy into residential, commercial, and industrial markets—and move communities from importing energy to producing their own energy.

Community energy projects and programs can have multiple economic and environmental benefits. In the face of uncertainty about global energy markets and future energy prices, communities may strive to become more energy self-sufficient to stabilize energy supplies and prices. Reducing energy use through efficiency improvements helps households and businesses keep more dollars in their pockets, while developing local renewable energy sources helps keep energy dollars in the local economy. Developing local markets for energy infrastructure, products, and services can be a major driver for economic development and job creation. Plus, reducing fossil fuel use reduces pollution, including greenhouse gases which cause climate change.

In the coming months, EESI will be gathering examples of community energy projects and programs from across the country, synthesizing lessons learned from this experience, and then broadly disseminating the information. To suggest local community energy examples, or for more information on EESI’s community energy initiative, please contact us at policy [at] eesi.org or (202) 662-1883.



The Environmental and Energy Study Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 1984 by a bipartisan Congressional caucus dedicated to finding innovative environmental and energy solutions. EESI is now an independent organization and its work on energy efficiency, renewable energy, agriculture, forestry, transportation, buildings, and urban planning issues is made possible through financial support from people like you. Your tax-deductible contribution will help EESI develop innovative policy solutions for a healthy, secure, and sustainable future. Please click here to make a secure, online donation. Thank you for your support!