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New DOE Jobs Report Shows Promising Outlook for Energy Efficiency

MEEA Unplugged Blog - November 30, 2016 - 9:00am

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the Annual United States Energy and Employment Report (USEER) and the numbers look good for energy efficiency. The USEER study focused on four segments of the energy market—Electric Power Generation and Fuels; Transmission, Distribution and Storage; Energy Efficiency; and Motor Vehicles—to determine current growth and potential for jobs in the energy sector.

The report highlights that energy efficiency is a rapidly growing segment in the energy sector with an annually increasing market share. Though the majority of jobs in energy efficiency are in construction, there is growth potential in energy-related manufacturing in the coming years.

Current EE Employment

In total, the report found 1.9 million American workers engaged either partially or fully in the energy efficiency market. Of the 1.9 million energy efficiency jobs in the country, almost 1.2 million are in the construction industry. Energy-related manufacturing jobs account for just 34,571 of the 1.9 million total.

Future Growth

Firms specializing in energy efficiency are expected to add 257,000 jobs to the market in 2016-2017 for an overall projected growth of 14%. For employers across all four analyzed segments, nearly three-quarters of them reported difficulty hiring qualified workers in the last twelve months. The current shortage of skilled labor in the energy efficiency market, along with the industry growth potential, makes this an ideal prospect for recent graduates.

MEEA Wins Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award

MEEA Unplugged Blog - November 15, 2016 - 11:21am

On November 1st MEEA was presented with the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award for work done in 2015 on the Building Operator Certification (BOC) program. During 2015, BOC was able to continue the success of the veterans program and fill a gap in the market by offering a new pilot BOC training for operations and maintenance staff of large multifamily buildings.

BOC Veterans Training

BOC is dedicated to helping veterans and active duty military personnel in Illinois attain free career development training through full tuition scholarships for a BOC Level 1 or 2 series. Within the scope of providing veterans with free career development training, BOC also provides underemployed or unemployed veterans with a travel stipend to defer the cost of getting to class, a mentor to help with homework assignments and job placement assistance from employment partners and veterans agencies. This effort is made possible with funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

Partners in Saving Energy

Along with the continued success of the veterans program, MEEA was able to partner with Elevate Energy and USGBC to offer the first ever pilot BOC Level 1 Multifamily series, placing a particular emphasis on this sector. MEEA partnered with USGBC to offer an extra training, Green Professional Building Skills Training (GPRO), so at the end of the series the participants were awarded two certifications. The GPRO certification by USGBC focuses solely on residential buildings, allowing students to receive a well-rounded, multifaceted training program.

Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance

With large residential buildings required to start energy benchmarking in 2015 as part of the Chicago Benchmarking Ordinance, MEEA wanted to provide residential building operators with the same training that commercial building operators have been offered for years. A day of the BOC Level 1 series is dedicated to measuring and energy benchmarking with an emphasis on learning to use ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager and creating the first benchmark of a student’s facility. Part of the Benchmarking Ordinance requires buildings to have a professional come verify their energy data every 3 years to ensure accuracy; BOC is one of the few professional certifications an individual can have to qualify as a data verifier. The inclusion of BOC graduates as energy verifiers allows facilities to benchmark and verify their own data without having to hire an outside professional, further reducing the barrier to comply with the benchmarking ordinance.

Looking to the Future

With continued funding for 2017 from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, BOC is looking to expand the veterans program and issue up to 18 full tuition scholarships for veterans or active duty military personnel and at least 6 of those scholarships will go towards underemployed or unemployed veterans. BOC will also be offering a more robust multifamily Level 1 offering, with the first one taking place in Wisconsin and another in Chicago. The Level 1 curriculum has been fully adapted by our expert instructors to be the most relevant information for operators of multifamily buildings. The BOC team looks forward to bringing this multifamily series to the region while continuing to improve upon this new program offering.

Ohio Adopts New Commercial Energy Code

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 18, 2016 - 2:28pm

Credit: Fensterbme / Flickr

In January 2016, the Ohio Board of Building Standards (BBS) began discussing the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)/ASHRAE Standard 90.1 2010 (ASHRAE 90.1-2010) for potential adoption as a means to regulate energy use in new (and majorly renovated) commercial buildings.

Nine months later, and after much discussion by state and local stakeholders, on Friday, September 30, the 2012 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2010 by reference was born (officially adopted by the Joint Committee of Administrative Rule Review (JCARR)). Although this new code has been formally adopted at the state level, this bundle of joy won’t make an appearance until January 1, 2017, the effective date set by JCARR and the BBS.

Energy & Cost Savings

In comparison to Ohio’s previous commercial energy code (2009 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1 2007 by reference), the adoption of the 2012 IECC/AHSRAE 90.1-2010 would improve the efficiency of buildings by over 18% based on the Department of Energy (DOE) Final Determination. Additionally, the incremental cost increase to construct a building to the new code is more than made up over the life of the building through annual energy cost savings, making it a cost-effective update.

According to a MEEA analysis, when accounting for the potential energy savings based on commercial construction starts in Ohio, buildings built to the recently adopted code in the state could contribute to over $9.5 million in energy cost savings and 470,000 MMBTU in energy savings per year. The amount of energy saved annually is equivalent to that of over 6,400 homes, which is almost half the number of single-family homes that were built in Ohio in 2015.

Additional Benefits

Not only will this code save energy and money for building owners, businesses and renters, but it also encompasses several non-energy benefits. With improved insulation, better windows and an improved and more finely-tuned mechanical and lighting system, building inhabitants will experience improved comfort, better lighting, and a healthier indoor working environment. Considering the average American spends 93% of their life indoors, and buildings account for 40% of all energy used in this country, a marked improvement in building performance through the adoption of this new energy code will have a lasting positive impact on residents in the State of Ohio.

Midwest States Gain the Most from Industrial EE

MEEA Unplugged Blog - October 7, 2016 - 1:07pm

Photo: ashley.adcox via Flickr / Creative Commons

Last month, the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency released a new report that ranks each U.S. state on their potential for industrial energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions. The report, State Ranking of Potential Carbon Dioxide Emission Reductions through Industrial Energy Efficiency, identifies which states are best suited to help the industrial sector to cut carbon emissions, while saving money and making manufacturers more competitive.

Through nationwide investments in industrial efficiency, the U.S. can cut carbon emissions by a total of 174.5 million short tons in 2030, which, according to the report, is equal to the emissions from 46 coal-fired power plants. Additionally, such actions can save businesses $298 billion from avoided electricity purchases. This level of carbon emission reduction is nearly one-third of the national emission reductions called for under the Clean Power Plan.

Midwest Potential

The Midwest is particularly well-positioned to benefit from industrial energy efficiency improvements due to the region’s significant manufacturing sector. According to the report, five of the top ten states that would experience the greatest total carbon emission reductions are in the Midwest: Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan. By investing in industrial energy efficiency, including combined heat and power and waste-heat recovery, these five states could avoid nearly 45 million short tons of carbon emissions and save over 63 million MWh of energy annually.

The Alliance for Industrial Efficiency report is aimed at helping state policymakers, industrial companies, utilities and others seize opportunities for industrial energy efficiency that will result in significant cost savings and emission reductions.

New Resources

In addition to the full report, the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency has released a national factsheet and individual state factsheets for each of the top ten states.

MEEA has released its own industrial EE factsheet as well.

For questions about MEEA’s resources and activities related to industrial energy efficiency in the Midwest, contact Policy Associate Leah Scull at lscull@mwalliance.org.

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