Illinois, America’s Green Building LEED-Certified Leader

by Silvio Marcacci.

America’s got a new number one when it comes to green building among the top states for LEED-certified construction, and this year’s winner may surprise you.

Illinois jumped from fifth to first in this year’s Top 10 States for LEED ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), supplanting perennial winner Washington, D.C.

The list is based on a per-capita basis of 2010 U.S. Census data combined with commercial and institutional green building projects certified through the LEED certification program across 2013 – a whopping 1,777 projects and 22.8 million square feet across the top ten states.

Renewable Energy. USGBC Top 10 States for LEED chart via US Green Building Council.
Renewable Energy. USGBC Top 10 States for LEED chart via US Green Building Council

Illinois Places First, With An Asterisk

Illinois ranked fifth in 2013 and placed third in 2012, so while its ascension isn’t shocking and shows a steady increase in green building projects, this year’s top rank is largely due to a technical change in how USGBC ranks states – namely dropping Washington, D.C. from the top 10 list.

171 LEED projects encompassing 29,415,284 square feet of space were certified in Illinois during 2013, good for 2.29 square feet of per-capita LEED-certified space. Those totals were good enough to beat out all other states, but would have been swamped by D.C.’s 32.45 per-capita square footage if it had been included.

“The public and private sectors in Illinois recognize that long-term investments in 21st century infrastructure should be done in ways that reduce energy consumption and protect the environment,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Illinois is proud to be the nation’s green buildings leader, and we are proof that smaller environmental footprint can help us step toward energy independence.”

Metro DC, New York, and California Round Out The Ranks

While Illinois may sit atop the ranks in 2013 due to D.C.’s exclusion, the nation’s capital (and federal government’s green building efforts) had a spillover effect on neighboring states, boosting Maryland and Virginia into the top three, with 119 and 160 projects representing 12,696,429 and 16,868,693 square feet for 2.20 and 2.11 per-capita square feet, all respectively.

The nation’s overall leaders in certified square footage and total certified projects, New York and California, tied for fifth in the LEED rankings due to their large populations driving down per-capita square footage.

Renewable Energy. Green building image via CleanTechnica
Renewable Energy. Green building image via CleanTechnica

This twist is due to USGBC calculating the list using per-capita figures to create a fair comparison of green building activity taking place among states with significant differences in population and overall buildings.

Interestingly, USGBC notes the continued trend toward LEED certifications of existing buildings through retrofit projects. 48 percent of all square footage in 2013 was certified under LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance, while 43 percent was certified under LEED for Building Design and Construction.

Every Green Building Boosts the Economy

Regardless of if green building projects are happening on new or existing buildings, they’re having a big economic impact. 35 percent of all US construction jobs today are in green building, according to a 2013 estimate, and industry revenue could top $248 billion by 2016.

“As the economy recovers, green buildings continue to provide jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of USGBC.

Beyond creating green jobs, green buildings are also saving businesses money while making their assets more valuable. A recent analysis showed 58 percent of corporate America had green buildings in their business portfolios with 30 percent building green to lower operating costs.  Additionally, McGraw Hill research has shown building values jump up to 11 percent with an up-to 14 percent return on investment for green building projects.

That’s all great news, but the best may still be yet to come. USGBC notes 37,000 projects representing 7.6 billion square feet of space are in the certification pipeline worldwide, and LEED v4 has raised the bar with increased requirements for certification, meaning our buildings will continue to get greener and greener – just like our economy.

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This article, Illinois Jumps To Top Of US Green Building LEED-Certified Ranks, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Massachusetts Invests $50 Million in Climate Resiliency Plan

by Silvio Marcacci

The impacts of rising sea levels, temperatures, and extreme weather keep adding up for America’s communities, but real action at the federal and international level keep getting pushed off to a later date – so what are local officials left to do?

If you’re Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the answer is pretty simple: Invest $50 million into a climate resiliency plan to address current and future impacts of a warming planet on his state’s economy and residents.

Coming just six months after Maryland’s groundbreaking climate change action plan was unveiled, Massachusetts’ forward-looking action highlights a growing trend of state and local elected officials taking the climate fight into their own hands.

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Governor Deval Patrick photo via Massachusetts Office of the Governor

Governor Deval Patrick photo via Massachusetts Office of the Governor

First, Boost Grid Resiliency Against Extreme Weather

Governor Patrick’s plan focuses on strengthening the state’s power grid against the rising tide of extreme weather. $40 million of the total plan will go directly into a municipal resilience grant program administered by the state Department of Energy Resources that funds clean energy technologies to harden energy services and boost distributed generation.

In addition to adding clean power generation across the grid, Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities will coordinate efforts to harden the state’s electricity transmission and distribution system against extreme weather while deploying new microgrid systems.

This may all sound like it’ll cost taxpayers a pretty penny, but the grid resiliency efforts will be paid by retail electricity suppliers operating in Massachusetts who aren’t able to meet their compliance obligations under the state’s renewable portfolio standard. These Alternative Compliance Payments will fully fund the grid hardening effort and hold taxpayers harmless.

Second, Protect Coastal Communities And Public Health

But Massachusetts’ climate resiliency efforts won’t just focus on the power grid. The remaining $10 million will come from existing capital funds and be split among projects to repair dams and coastal infrastructure damaged by extreme weather in recent years, including two separate $1 million grant programs to address sea level rise along the coast and fund green infrastructure coastal resilience pilot projects.

State agencies will also work to create best practices and resources to share among local officials. The state’s Department of Public Health will work to identify additional issues local government should consider, boost training, analyze the spread of diseases resulting from warmer temperatures, and assess vulnerable water infrastructure. $2 million in additional funding proposed in the state’s fiscal year 2015 budget will cover these interagency efforts.

From Clean Energy Leader To Climate Leader

The Bay State has already become a national model for how to build a successful green economy by growing green jobs 11.8% in 2013 alone, ranking first in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s national ranking of statewide energy efficiency for three consecutive years, and crushing its own solar power goals.

But with this plan, Massachusetts joins the vanguard of local governments working to protect their communities even if the federal government won’t. “We have a generational responsibility to address the multiple threats of climate change,” said Governor Patrick. “Massachusetts need to be ready, and our plan will make sure that we are.”

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This article, Massachusetts Invests $50 Million In Grid, Coastal Climate Resiliency, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

 

Silvio Marcacci
Silvio Marcacci

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

SolarWorld Brings Solar Financing For US-Made Solar Panels To Hawaii

by Nicholas Brown — Special to JBS News

This will be refreshing to many: SolarWorld, a company that is well known for producing solar modules, is now providing Hawaii with the option to enjoy its solar financing packages, and with the guarantee that the solar panels they get on their roofs will receive American-made solar panels!

This service, offered exclusively through Inter-Island Solar Supply, could be helpful to Hawaii, which has high electricity prices and abundant sunshine.

hawaii-solar-infographic

According to Business Green, SolarWorld provides complete photovoltaic systems with monitoring, installation, insurance, and maintenance for up to 20 years, through its network of installers.

Like SolarCity and Solar Universe, it provides solar panels with financing options to reduce the initial purchase costs (such as zero-down financing options, low down payments, and prepayment), so that you can offset a fraction of your monthly bill with solar panels and pay a lower monthly fee for electricity instead. This is done under the SolarWorld Freedom ™ Plan.

“We are excited to partner with SolarWorld to bring the Freedom Plan financing program to the Hawaii’s homeowners,” said Ron Richmond, manager of business development for Inter-Island Solar Supply. “The Freedom Plan enables Hawaii families to reduce their electric bills by removing the high cost of purchasing a PV system.”

The Freedom Plan is now available in the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. It is to be expanded to additional American markets, such as Arizona and New York, in the coming months.

If interested, you can make inquiries through their website.

SolarWorld appears to welcome third parties to join their network of solar panel installers. If you would like to register to become a SolarWorld installer, you can do so on its website.

Follow @Kompulsa on Twitter.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

Nearly 40,000 New Green Jobs Created Across America During 2Q 2013

By Silvio Marcacci — Special to JBS News

Clean energy and sustainable transportation projects launched this year created nearly 40,000 new green jobs in America during the second quarter (2Q) of 2013.

From renewables to energy efficiency and public transportation, America’s transition to a clean energy economy is well underway, reports the latest green jobs report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

E2’s 2013 second quarter clean energy and transportation jobs report tracks job announcements from private companies, elected officials, and media outlets to paint a picture of economic growth that’s outpacing the overall economy and creating a sustainable future – for America’s economy and environment.

Top 10 US green jobs map 2Q 2013

Top 10 US green jobs 2Q 2013 map via Environmental Entrepreneurs

38,600 Green Jobs Across Nearly 60 Projects

Nearly 60 projects were either announced or launched in 27 states during 2Q 2013, according to E2’s report. These projects will create 38,600 green jobs, slightly higher than the 37,400 green jobs E2 tracked in 2Q 2012, and on pace to surpass the 110,000 total green jobs created in 2012.

Renewable energy generation was led by solar power and wind energy, representing 31 projects and nearly half of the total green jobs outlook, with more than 13,300 new openings – more than any other sector.

Solar energy projects represented a whopping 10,400 green jobs, equaling 75% of all power generation and 25% of all green jobs. Not to be outdone, wind energy projects chipped in more than 2,500 new positions, up from just 800 in the first quarter.

Public transportation and smart grid/transmission projects followed closely behind renewables, with 9,600 and 8,200 jobs respectively, while energy efficiency rounded out the pack with 5,700 jobs announced.

Interestingly, E2’s analysis didn’t seem to include the fast-growing green building industry, which represented 44% of all US construction jobs in 2012 and could top $140 billion in annual revenue in 2013, according to a recent report from the US Green Building Council.

Economic Growth Without Geographic Or Political Boundaries

Unsurprisingly, California led all states in both total green jobs and projects announced during 2Q. The “epicenter of the US clean tech market” tallied 12 total wind, solar, biofuels, and transportation projects creating 9,169 total jobs.

Top 10 US green jobs list 2Q 2013

Top 10 US green jobs 2Q 2013 list via Environmental Entrepreneurs

Newcomers managed to shake up the top ten list of green jobs by state, disregarding political affiliations and rural versus urban demographics. Hawaii surged into second place with 5,000 new positions on the strength of a $300 million government building energy efficiency effort, and Maryland ranked third with 4,400 total jobs propelled by a $2.6 billion, 20-station, 14-mile Baltimore light rail project.

Once again, good economics knows no political boundaries, with new projects and new jobs springing up in Republican and Democratic congressional districts. Several districts saw multiple project announcements, but California’s 51st district led the way with 901 total jobs, more than double the second-place showing of 414 green jobs in Nevada’s 3rd district.

Toward A Green Economic Future?

But the best may be yet to come, as President Obama formulates the specific details of his climate change mitigation plan. A recent analysis of the economic impacts of cutting carbon by the Natural Resources Defense Council found cutting carbon from power plants alone could create 210,000 jobs – let alone what stable policy for renewable energy could do.

So as America gets ready to enjoy the Labour Day holiday, it’s important to once again consider the potential of a clean energy economy. Green jobs help build a better future in every regard – cleaner air, a healthier environment, and stable jobs.

This article, Nearly 40,000 New Green Jobs Created Across America During 2Q 2013, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy

Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy | 22/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

Until now, U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C. have had 50% of their electrical power needs met with wind-turbine powered electricity supplied by Washington Gas Energy Services CleanSteps® WindPower. That percentage increased recently to 100% as part of the government’s renewable energy target and building efficiency improvement plan.

http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/wind.html
The United States has tremendous wind resources both offshore and on land. In 2012, the total installed wind capacity in the United States reached 50,000 MW. That’s enough to power more than 12 million homes annually, and it represents an 18-fold increase in capacity since 2000. — photo courtesy of U.S. DoE

Using 100 percent wind power for electricity equates to the Washington, D.C. government avoiding the consumption of 32,825,000 gallons of gasoline or taking 61,000 cars off the road for a year. The world’s fastest-growing energy resource, wind power displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and helps eliminate air pollution.

“Going green helps foster economic growth and creates modern and vibrant communities across the District of Columbia,” said Brian J. Hanlon, Director, Department of General Services.

“Our goals are to become more energy efficient and reduce our carbon emissions, and our strategic partnership with WGES is playing a role in helping us achieve these objectives.” – WGES press release

Even prior to this announcement, Washington, D.C. held the record among U.S. cities for the highest total renewable energy use at over one billion kilowatt hours per year – or, 11.4% of it’s total electricity consumption.

To read a complete breakdown of U.S. cities and their renewable energy use in 2012, visit this EPA Green Power Community Challenge Rankings page.

“We have stated our mission for Washington, D.C. to be the cleanest, greenest city in the nation, which includes the use of renewable energy for our power sources.

We’re proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Washington, D.C. as the leading Green Power Community for our commitment to purchase green power.” — Keith Anderson, Director, District Department of the Environment

In his National Geographic NewsWatch piece, Sam Brooks, Associate Director of the Washington, D.C. Department of General Services and head of its Energy Division said, “conservative estimates indicate a long-term purchase of regional wind power could save more than $100 million over 20 years.”

What could be better than breathing clean air while saving 100 million dollars?

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NOTES:

  1. The U.S. Department of Energy funds R&D to develop wind energy. Learn about the DOE Wind Program, how to use wind energy and get financial incentives, and access wind energy information.
  2. In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, businesses, organizations, government entities, institutions and individual residents can purchase their electricity and natural gas supply from retail energy providers. Customers in Virginia may purchase natural gas and customers in Delaware may purchase electricity from retail energy providers.
  3. To learn more about WGES and its CleanSteps® products, visit www.wges.com or call 1-888-884-WGES (9437).