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Committee Recommends Indefinite Freeze on Ohio Clean Energy Standards

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 1, 2015 - 1:36pm

Photo credit: Arlenz Chen

On Wednesday, the Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee (created under SB 310) released their recommendation on the near-term future of mandated energy efficiency  and renewable energy standards in Ohio. The report recommends the General Assembly impose an indefinite freeze of these standards.

Many allies of energy efficiency expressed disappointment with the report’s recommendations. Ohio Governor John Kasich echoed these sentiments. “A continued freeze of Ohio’s energy standards is unacceptable,” said Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews, “and we stand willing to work with the Ohio General Assembly to craft a bill that supports a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources while preserving the gains we have made in the state’s economy.”

MEEA will continue to track this and other developments, including legislative proposals. The Ohio General Assembly will resume the legislative session on October 7. MEEA is looking to potentially hold meetings and will discuss the ramifications of the report with Ohio’s MEEA members, policymakers and stakeholders.

If you would like to get involved or if you have any questions about the Energy Mandates Study Committee findings and recommendations, please contact Policy Manager Nick Dreher at ndreher@mwalliance.org. Or visit MEEA’s Ohio Policy Page for our testimony to the committee, fact sheets, policy summaries and other resources.

Inspiring Efficiency Award Nominations Close September 18

MEEA Unplugged Blog - September 11, 2015 - 12:25pm

Update (9/17): The IEA nomination period has been extended through Wednesday, September 23. 

Each year the Inspiring Efficiency Awards recognize Midwest leaders who deliver groundbreaking achievements in energy efficiency in five categories: Education, Impact, Innovation, Leadership and Marketing. The deadline for nominations is fast approaching!

Nominate a campaign, program or leader at MEEAConference.org by Friday, September 18 and help us honor the Midwest’s energy efficiency elite.

The awards will be presented at a dinner and gala celebration on Thursday, February 25 during the 2016 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference. Apply now!


Does an organization have to be headquartered in the Midwest to apply?

No, but you must demonstrate the program’s impact in at least one of the 13 states MEEA serves.

Is there an application fee?


Can I apply in multiple categories?

You sure can!



MEEA Supports Energy Codes in St. Louis County

MEEA Unplugged Blog - August 21, 2015 - 1:39pm

At the August 12th St. Louis County Building Commission Meeting, the Missouri Sierra Club Chapter and nineteen residents delivered a petition (in the shape of a home) in support of adopting the 2015 Residential International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) as written. In addition, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), as well as other technical experts in the field of healthy homes, Net-Zero Energy construction, home energy assessments and low-income communities, testified about the benefits the 2015 IECC will bring to St. Louis County and its residents.


This petition was delivered in response to weakening amendments that were proposed by the Home Builders Association (HBA) of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri and then accepted, with minor changes, by the Building Code Review Committee (BCRC).

These accepted amendments include making the window U-factor, wall insulation, ceiling insulation and basement insulation requirements of the 2015 IECC less stringent. Additional amendments include removing the requirement for the building energy certificate, blower door testing, duct testing and high efficacy lighting.

Energy Impact

MEEA determined the proposed Residential 2015 IECC is actually less energy efficient than the current St. Louis County 2009 Residential IECC, if the BCRC-accepted amendments are factored in. According to MEEA’s analysis, if the county were to adopt the un-amended 2015 IECC, homeowners could expect to save approximately $436 annually; however, if the county were to adopt the 2015 IECC with current BCRC-approved amendments, homeowners could expect to spend an additional $152 annually, when compared to the current St. Louis County 2009 Residential IECC.

The BCRC is still reviewing the full suite of the 2015 International Building Codes, but they will send their final recommendations to the St. Louis County Building Commission upon completion. The building commission is expected to release a draft code and hold a public hearing for comments, which will likely happen in late 2015 or early 2016.

A full synopsis of the event can be found on these local news outlets:  St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and St. Louis Construction News and Review.

MEEA Staff Presents at 2015 ACEEE Summer Study

MEEA Unplugged Blog - August 17, 2015 - 10:57am

MEEA Staff members Greg Ehrendreich and Mark Milby presented on Wed., Aug 5, at the 2015 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry in Buffalo, NY.

Mark’s paper “A Midstream Cogged V-Belt Pilot Program: Concept and Early Challenges” was co-authored with AEP Ohio, Dayton Power & Light, Argonne National Laboratory, and Go Sustainable, LLC. The paper describes the group’s efforts in developing and launching a novel midstream incentive pilot program in Ohio aimed at increasing the market share of cogged v-belts in commercial HVAC applications, which are about 3% more efficient than standard v-belts. Mark’s presentation of his work was part of the conference panel “Delivering Results.”

Greg’s paper “Living Up to Its Potential: Industrial Energy Efficiency in the Midwest” addressed the role that industrial energy efficiency plays in supporting the cost effectiveness of utility efficiency portfolios and the impact that policy changes like industrial opt-out can have on the portfolio. He also discussed some of the data challenges that need to be overcome to enable a deeper study of industrial efficiency policies in the region. Greg’s presentation was in the panel “Policy and Resource Planning.”

STEP: In with the New

MEEA Unplugged Blog - August 17, 2015 - 10:48am

A shifted focus for the Savings Through Efficient Products program (STEP) brought many new facilities into the Illinois Energy Now participant portfolio during the 2015 program year. STEP provides informational resources, walkthrough assessments and free, easy‐to‐install energy efficient measures to qualifying Illinois public facilities.

Public facilities that participated in STEP in 2015

Eighty-six percent of participants during the first three quarters of the year were new to Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) programs, helping close the gap between the number of public facilities eligible for state energy efficiency incentive programs and the percentage participating in these programs.

In its third year, 318 facilities participated in STEP, far outpacing program year goals. Participating facilities installed enough products to save an estimated 6,271,266 annual gross kWh and 234,737 annual gross therms across Illinois (pre-evaluated savings). That’s enough savings to power 509 homes for a year!

STEP aimed to attract new participants into the Department’s suite of programs, and then to guide them toward DCEO’s many offerings through personalized recommendations. As one facility letter shared, “Already, STEP has enabled us to increase EE in our buildings in new ways, and we are excited to maintain this forward momentum …I have already been networking and sharing our success stories with other schools.”

To learn more about the STEP process, look for Catie Krasner at the 2015 AESP Summer Conference speaking on STEP’s program evolution and at ACEEE’s National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource speaking about building relationships through STEP or contact her at ckrasner@mwalliance.org.

Energy Efficiency Highlighted at Illinois Renewable Energy Conference

MEEA Unplugged Blog - August 4, 2015 - 9:38am

On July 16, Illinois State University hosted the annual Illinois Renewable Energy Conference, and for the first time ever, the 2015 conference incorporated an energy efficiency track into the conference’s breakout sessions alongside wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. MEEA served on the conference planning committee and convened the three energy efficiency breakout sessions, which were focused on energy efficiency policies, case studies and technical information.

MEEA’s Senior Policy Manager Julia Friedman helped kick off the morning plenary session by providing an overview of energy efficiency policy in Illinois.

Energy Efficiency Case Studies

Policy Associate Leah Scull moderated the case studies panel which included presentations from Sarah Edwards, Senior Program Associate at MEEA, Chris Homan, Assistant Director in the Office of Energy Management at Illinois State University, and Cathy Milostan, Energy and Environmental Policy Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

These case studies were selected to show the wide breadth of opportunities for energy savings in the commercial and residential sector. Sarah Edwards, who presented “HVAC SAVE: Transforming the Iowa Residential HVAC Market,” spoke to how a program offering improved contractor training can result in higher efficiency of residential HVAC systems. Chris Homan discussed the recent energy efficiency upgrades on the ISU campus, including improved steam traps, lighting and boiler efficiency upgrades, and provided valuable lessons learned for other large facilities interested in pursuing similar upgrades. Cathy Milostan’s presentation, “Developing Midstream Incentive Projects to Promote Energy Efficiency,” included a discussion of a recently implemented pilot-program that encourages the retail sale of notched v-belts, which use less energy than traditional v-belts, to commercial and industrial customers.

Agricultural and Industrial Efficiency

During the afternoon’s final breakout session, MEEA Policy Manager Nick Dreher moderated the energy efficiency technical panel, which included presentations on industrial and agricultural efforts from Bin Wu, Director of the Missouri Industrial Assessment Center, and Yun-Sheng Xu, an associate research professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Missouri.

Download Presentations

Further information about these and other breakout sessions, including slideshows and presenter bios, can be found on the conference website.

MEEA Partners with M-WERC to Identify Barriers to Industrial Energy Efficiency

MEEA Unplugged Blog - July 27, 2015 - 9:30am

Over the last year, MEEA has participated in the Industrial Energy Efficiency Working Group coordinated by M-WERC, or the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium, a MEEA Member. Headquartered in Milwaukee, M-WERC is a unique thought leader, catalyst and incubator focused on the growth and economic competitiveness of the energy, power and control industry cluster across the Midwest. To guide this work, M-WERC develops Industry Roadmaps that pinpoint specific barriers to economic development in key areas. Their recently completed Energy Efficiency Industry Roadmap identified efficiency improvements in the industrial sector as a critical component of improving the competitiveness of Midwestern businesses.

M-WERC, in partnership with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), convened a working group to identify and develop solutions for the barriers to industrial energy efficiency (IEE). The vision for this group is to help the Midwest “become the nationally and internationally recognized leader for developing economically viable IEE projects, including low-water use, for small and medium sized manufacturers (<1,000kw per month), as measured by the number of projects developed, project conversion rate, and average energy savings  in absolute and intensity based measures for projects developed.”

6 Barriers to Energy Efficiency Implementation

After several months of dialogue, MEEA, M-WERC and several other organizations including Leidos, Focus on Energy, We Energies, CBI, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Franklin Energy, the University of Wisconsin, WMEP, and the Wisconsin State Energy Office generated six themes representing the central barriers small- and medium-sized manufacturers face in implementing energy efficiency upgrades. They are briefly described below:

  1. Inadequate IEE Customer Support: A limited supply of industry sector, process specific, technical customer support expertise; most funding for EE programming in industrial sector goes to larger companies; inadequate support of Strategic Energy Management training for smaller companies
  2. Inadequate IEE Sales Skills and Efforts: Inadequate focus on driving the customer decision from the top down, with emphasis on overcoming key decision makers’ objections; economic evaluation methodologies are not always consistent with those used by customers; audit/assessment reports take too long and non-energy benefit streams are not fully identified or quantified
  3. Access to Customer Capital for Projects: IEE competes with limited capital required for core business investment; IEE projects frequently do not meet company’s required ROI; limited lower threshold, third party, attractively-priced financing opportunities
  4. Inadequate Development of New IEE Technologies, Products and Processes: Need increased focus on development and demonstration of specialized, industrial process-oriented technologies that cross multiple industry sectors; wider acceptance and support for waste heat capture or combined heat and power
  5. Inadequate Sized and Trained IEE Workforce: Suppliers need more trained assessors and installation technicians; customers need more internal energy experts or access to inexpensive, trusted, external advisers
  6. Lack of Trusted Third Party to Provide Impartial Guidance and Support to Customers/Consultants: Quality information on EE upgrades can be difficult to locate, especially when time is limited; customers depend too much on potentially biased vendors for information; need stronger, more objective, more numerous case studies on wide variety of industry subsectors; limited awareness of available resources, such as Industrial Assessment Centers, CHP TAPs, the Better Plants program, etc.

For more information on MEEA’s effort with this working group, please contact Mark Milby, MEEA Program Manager, at mmilby@mwalliance.org or (312) 784-7249.

Interested in industrial energy efficiency more broadly? Check out MEEA’s Midwest Industrial Initiative.

MEEA Participates as Keynote Speaker during HUD’s Regional Multi-Family Meeting

MEEA Unplugged Blog - July 13, 2015 - 9:10am

Last month, select MEEA staff members participated in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Multi-Family Convening Meeting in Chicago. The event presented multiple aspects for multi-family buildings to save energy and participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge. Stacey Paradis, Executive Director, was also the keynote presenter for the event. Ms. Paradis gave a speech outlining the investments, current standards and challenges within the energy efficiency industry related to multi-family housing.

Challenges in Multi-Family Housing

In 2014, investment in energy efficiency hit an all-time high of $1.82 billion – a 76% increase in spending since 2010. Given the growth in investment, she noted the continued importance that these policies and programs are designed to ensure efficiency reaches all consumers – homeowners and renters alike. The multi-family rental market already possesses unique challenges for utility rate-payer programs.  In a survey of 17 cities across the country, researchers at the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) found that while multi-family housing represented approximately 12% to 36% of the housing market in large cities, often less than 15% of utilities’ residential energy efficiency spending was achieved in multi-family markets. In addition, not all utilities have energy efficiency programs oriented for multi-family buildings. Often these programs are combined together with commercial programs due to the similarities in HVAC equipment.

Ms. Paradis emphasized these issue are even more paramount for owners/managers and residents of affordable housing. High energy costs are a tremendous cost burden for those living in inefficient units and buildings. A study by Charlie Harak of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) estimates that HUD spends upwards of $5 billion on energy costs for public housing and privately owned, affordable housing where the owner or tenant receives rental assistance. Beyond HUD tenants, this is important for all affordable, multi-family renters. According to the NCLC, nearly 50% of the country’s low-income population lives in multi-family buildings.  Low-income renters spend 20% or more of their incomes on energy as they are often living in older, highly inefficient buildings.  Lastly, National Housing Trust notes that energy expenditures per square foot in multi-family rental apartments are 38% higher than in owner-occupied single-family homes.


There are solutions, Ms. Paradis noted. Case studies from ACEEE have shown that multi-family owners, affordable or market rate, have reduced their energy use and energy bills by 20% or more, improving cash flow and profits and freeing up money to pay for other building improvements. In addition, MEEA has worked with the Chicago Housing Authority to track (or “benchmark”) their energy use in multi-family senior buildings to meet the City of Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, but also understand which buildings are the largest users of energy.

Other energy-saving measures have been accomplished by some public housing authorities to increase the quality of life for their residents, as well as save energy. Some of these direct installment programs, which work with local utility rebate programs, include refrigerator replacement, incandescent to CLF light bulb change-outs, and high efficient, faucet aerator installation. Ms. Paradis noted these examples are only the beginning of where multi-family buildings can start.

More Information

For more information on multi-family housing, contact MEEA’s Sr. Policy Manager, Julia Friedman, at jfriedman@mwalliance.org. For advice on building energy benchmarking, contact MEEA’s Sr. Technical Manager, Steve Kismohr, at skismohr@mwalliance.org.

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