Category Archives: Technology

CEC Report: Renewable Power in California: Status and Issues


The PIER Program has provided roughly $179 million in R&D funding for a wide variety of activities in support of California’s renewable energy goals. These investments are not limited to basic research – more than half of PIER renewable funding awarded between 2004 and 2010 was for technology demonstrations.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced release of the Lead Commissioner Report on “Renewable Power in California: Status and Issues” (CEC-150-2011-002-LCF-REV1). The report is accessible from the Docket #11-IEP-1 web page, which lists documents for the 2011 integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Proceeding.

The report provides a thorough summary and comparison of the various types and applications of renewable energy in the state and offers projections regarding both the potential increase for each type and the relationship to California’s renewable energy goals. For example: Biomass electrical generation capacity in place is reported as 1,553 megawatts electric (MWe), less than one half of the 3,820 MWe estimated as technically available.

The report first analyzes a broad sweep of critical issues surrounding and barriers to increased renewable energy development, then provides a set of five key recommendations to meet the challenges:

  1. Identify and prioritize areas for both utility-scale and distributed energy;
  2. Evaluate current project burdens beyond technical costs;
  3. Minimize interconnection costs and requirements;
  4. Promote and incentivize in-state technology and project development,
  5. Promote and coordinate existing state and federal financing and incentive programs for critical stages including research, development, and demonstration; pre-commercialization and deployment.

The report is seen as the first step in strategic plan development in 2012 and complements the upcoming 2011 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update, which the CEC will consider for adoption at its January 12, 2012 meeting.

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CA AB 1103 – Energy Rating Requirement for Commercial Buildings


Assembly Bill 1103 (Saldana, 2007) allows the Energy Commission to implement the requirements of Assembly Bill 1103 in stages.
Assembly Bill 531 (Saldana, 2009) supercedes Assembly Bill 1103 and clarifies the Energy Commission’s authority to set a schedule of compliance. The initial proposed draft regulations required the initial compliance to begin on January 1, 2011. However, new proposed draft regulations will postpone the initial compliance date until July 1, 2012.
Initial compliance will not be required on January 1, 2012.

From the Center for Sustainable Energy, California (5/11/2010) –

Unlike California’s stringent Title 24 building energy efficiency codes that regulate standards for commercial construction and renovations, AB 1103 comes into play when a building is sold, leased in whole or refinanced. Along with the usual financial and transaction disclosures, it requires that building owners provide 12 months of energy-use information using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager,.

AB 1103 is one of the ways the state legislature is working to help achieve the greenhouse gas emission reductions mandated by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, also known as AB 32. Commercial buildings account for more than 35 percent of electricity consumption in California and are significant contributors to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

While many in the commercial real estate marketplace believe AB 1103 regulations will be a big headache, they should really see this energy benchmarking as a tremendous opportunity that can benefit both sellers and buyers, according to Beth Brummitt, president of Brummitt Energy Associates, a consulting firm specializing in energy modeling for high-performance buildings. Brummitt was among a panel of local green-building experts who spoke at CCSE in April as part of a workshop on AB 1103 and its impacts on commercial real estate transactions.

“ AB 1103 is a significant game changer across California because it demands a true comparison of building performance with other, similar facilities within the same industry sector, not simply a disclosure of monthly utility costs and energy consumption,” Brummitt said. “Even though building owners may think this is going to harm them, it will actually provide motivation to improve building energy performance, resulting in increased net operating income and enhanced property values.”

The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, online software tool that allows users to track and assess energy consumption tailored to the occupancy of the building in 13 broad categories from banking to warehousing.

“It makes comparisons of a building’s energy performance to statistically representative models of equivalent buildings with similar operating characteristics drawn from a national database compiled by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration,” explained Eric Scheidlinger, manager of efficient sustainable practices at Reno Construction.

In addition to 12 months’ worth of energy-use data and building use, the Portfolio Manager asks for the building size, number of occupants, hours of operation, number of computers, types of equipment and other parameters. In many areas, the local electrical utility can automatically supply and update energy consumption data on a monthly basis.

The result is a rating on a scale of one to 100. A rating of 50% means that the building performs at the midpoint when compared to similar buildings. While a building in Detroit will always use more energy than a comparable one in San Diego, the Portfolio Manager uses national weather data to assure that buildings are compared to those in similar climates. A building that achieves a verified score of 75 or above qualifies for ENERGY STAR certification.

The purpose of AB 1103, according to Brummitt, is to drive the commercial building owners to not only to track and but to also improve their ENERGY STAR rating by optimizing the energy performance of existing systems and installing new energy-efficient upgrades and renewable energy technologies. A higher rating means lower energy costs, decreased occupancy costs and, potentially, increased building valuation.

Buildings with ENERGY STAR certification generally use about 35 percent less energy and save, on average, 50 cents per square foot in energy costs, according to Steve Kaplan of McParlane Building Optimization, a mechanical engineering firm. A study published by the Institute of Business and Economic Research at UC Berkeley found that office buildings with energy efficiency certification have rental rates that are two percent higher per square foot than otherwise identical buildings nearby, and when adjusted for their higher occupancy levels, the “green premium” goes to above six percent.

Knowledgeable building owners and facility managers can usually handle the inputs for the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, particularly if the local utility updates the monthly consumption data. However, since small mistakes can result in skewed information, owners should consider getting professional assistance. Energy Star provides both a benchmarking tool and has a program for awarding an ENERGY STAR Certification. To gain the certification, the data must be verified by a licensed professional engineer.

Commercial building owners in California should start compiling energy-use data this year, regardless of their intention to sell or hold onto their property. It may be a little complicated at first, but you never know when circumstances might require a quick sale, a new lease or a refinance. Starting now will be ever so much easier than trying to backtrack through a years’ worth of energy bills or being surprised by finding out building performance is lower than expected.

Related resources – Clean Techies Blog

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Pike Research: 10 Building Efficiency Trends to Watch in 2011

2012EETrendsDespite the general weakness in new construction due to the global recession, one building-related field has continued to grow: retrofits tied to improving the efficiency of facilities. A number of factors have been driving this growth. In the new construction that has been taking place, these same drivers have been influencing the design of the buildings.

From Building Efficiency: Ten Trends to Watch in 2011 and Beyond

A multitude of factors will continue to influence the direction of building efficiency efforts around the world in terms of what is implemented and to what degree. Pike Research has selected ten trends among these that are certain to have a major impact on the building efficiency sector in the coming year and beyond.

Ten Building Efficiency Trends to Watch
  1. Energy codes will keep raising the bar and enforcement is catching up.

  2. Mandatory disclosure rules will incentivize building owners to invest in energy efficiency.

  3. The pace of building certification will increase, led by LEED.

  4. Building energy management systems are in high demand.

  5. The U.S. ESCO market will see moderate growth and ESCOs in Asia Pacific’s developing markets will advance rapidly.

  6. Lighting: Not yet “The Year of the LED”.

  7. The connection between efficient buildings and the smart grid will continue to grow.

  8. Increasing number of financing options around the world.

  9. PACE is a financing option struggling to overcome a roadblock of its own.

  10. Systemic conditions, policy choices, and practical considerations will continue to present barriers to achieving energy efficiency, but investments in training, information access, and technology will gradually overcome many of them.

Pike Research has published executive summaries for related studies:

  1. Energy Efficiency Retrofits for Commercial and Public Buildings

  2. Energy Efficient Buildings: Global Outlook

  3. Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

  4. Intelligent Lighting Controls for Commercial Buildings

  5. PACE Financing for Commercial Buildings

Despite the general weakness in new construction due to the global recession, one building-related field has continued to grow: retrofits tied to improving the efficiency of facilities. A number of factors have been driving this growth. In the new construction that has been taking place, these same drivers have been influencing the design of the buildings.

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Los Angeles Commercial Building Performance Partnership (LACBPP)


Los Angeles has the most energy efficient buildings in the country, with over 106 million square feet of Energy Star™ certified space. But there is still much more that can be done.

To demonstrate its continued national leadership in building energy efficiency, the City of Los Angeles has become a partner of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, committing to support over 20 million square feet of buildings in reducing energy consumption by at least 20% by 2020.

In order to support property owners in achieving this goal, the City of Los Angeles has developed the LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership (LACBPP) – an ARRA-funded initiative that offers a suite of FREE resources to help you upgrade your buildings while saving energy, saving money, preserving the environment, and making your buildings healthier more comfortable places to live and work.

  1. Up to $250,000 in FREE engineering services from top-tier independent firms

  2. FREE facilitated access to LADWP and SoCal Gas rebates and incentives, as well as state and federal tax incentives such as EPAct 179D

  3. FREE introductions to innovative project financing options

California will soon begin enforcing AB 1103, a law that will require commercial property owners to disclose a property’s Energy Star™ score as part of any transaction. Stay ahead of the curve, and benchmark your building to see how it is performing relative to other similar buildings. Try out this BENCHMARKING TOOL.

If you provide some additional information about your building, the Partnership will develop a more detailed benchmarking report for you at NO COST.

Property owners are eligible to receive up to $250,000 in engineering services from one of the Partnership’s qualified independent engineering firms.

The final Savings Opportunity Assessment (SOA) report will include detailed transparent analysis of:

  1. How your building is performing relative to other similar properties

  2. All opportunities to save energy and water

  3. Savings and costs associated with each opportunity

  4. Utility rebates and Tax incentives

  5. Potential for on-site power generation, demand response, and electric vehicle charging (for qualifying properties)

  6. Off Balance Sheet Financing options

For more information visit the L.A. Better Building Challenge website.

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