ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 1 - Issue: 10 - 07/13/2012

DOE Awards Nearly $14 Million to 22 States for Improving Building Energy Efficiency

By Steve Rizer


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded roughly $14 million to 22 states and territories to conduct energy-efficiency upgrades in public facilities and develop local policies and programs to help reduce energy waste. These State Energy Program (SEP) grants will support whole-building energy-efficiency upgrades "across hundreds of public buildings, saving millions for state and local governments and creating new local jobs for energy auditors, architects, engineers, and construction workers," according to the federal agency.


The projects selected late last month fall under the following three categories: 

  • Advancing Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings -- DOE will invest $7.9 million to assist 13 states in developing cost-saving whole-building retrofit programs across a broad segment of their public building portfolio.
  • Stimulating Energy Efficiency Action in States -- DOE will invest $1 million to help two states generate the necessary policy and program frameworks for encouraging cost-effective energy-efficiency investments and establish or increase statewide energy-savings goals by 2015.
  • Deploying Fee-Based Self-Funded Public Facilities Energy Retrofit Programs -- DOE will invest $5 million to assist eight states in developing, improving, and implementing comprehensive programs that can finance energy upgrades to public facilities, including state and municipal buildings, National Guard assets, school districts, and water- and wastewater-treatment facilities.

Here is a breakdown of individual awards with comments from DOE:


Advancing Energy Efficiency in Public Facilities (Buildings)


Arizona ($715,000) -- This project will support an energy-efficiency upgrade strategy aimed at improving half of the state's 100 wastewater- and water-treatment facilities. The state will implement deep, whole-facility efficiency upgrades for wastewater and drinking water systems.


Hawaii ($350,000) -- The project will develop an energy-efficiency upgrade strategy to achieve a 30 percent reduction in building energy use by 2020 (from a 2011 baseline). The state will identify and benchmark nearly 300 state buildings (10 million square feet) with Energy Star Portfolio Manager and recommend program strategies for facilitating energy retrofits and overcoming barriers through an analysis of 10 large, state-owned office buildings.


Illinois ($427,500) -- The project will enhance energy efficiency in the public sector through whole-building energy-savings strategies and targeted educational efforts, focusing on three types of public-sector facilities: K-12 schools, park districts, and state community colleges. The project seeks to expand the "Illinois Energy Now" program by implementing an energy use benchmarking system, strengthening education and outreach, and expanding whole-building energy assessments.


Iowa ($392, 662) -- The project will aggressively address the barriers to implementing energy-efficiency improvements in public buildings by expanding the state's existing benchmarking tool by benchmarking 800 additional public buildings to exceed 2,000 total, representing 25 percent of all public facilities.


Maryland ($576,000) -- The project will reduce energy use in small to mid-sized state-owned buildings, which are an underserved class of buildings for energy-efficiency retrofits due to size. The state's energy-efficiency upgrade strategy is to categorize and evaluate available buildings by activity, processes, and structural characteristics for efficiency improvements, ultimately resulting in 850,000 square feet of building space retrofits.


Massachusetts ($715,000) -- The project will facilitate whole-building, deep energy-efficiency improvements of 11 million square feet of regional public schools and state-assisted public housing developments by 2020, leveraging more than $165 million from utility efficiency funds and low-cost bonds to maximize energy savings across the portfolio.


Mississippi ($725,000) -- This project will advance the energy efficiency of institutes of higher learning (IHL) buildings by finalizing the inventory of IHL buildings, including square footage, age, and the history and types of earlier retrofits. All of the buildings will be entered into the state's web-based management system and create a baseline from which to measure improvements.


Missouri ($715,000) -- The project will improve selected state-owned buildings by requiring whole-building retrofits to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, this project seeks to implement a building-operators certification program to train energy managers to sustain these efficiency gains in the future.


New Jersey ($715,000) -- The project will implement an energy-efficiency strategy by performing energy upgrades in buildings in more than 550 municipalities (44 million square feet), across 21 counties (21 million square feet), and in nearly 600 public school districts and 2,500 public schools (100 million square feet). The project also will develop an analysis tool to assist local governments in choosing the best financing options for their clean energy programs.


New Mexico ($715,000) -- The project will leverage $20 million in financing and establish an energy-management program to inventory the state Department of General Services' buildings. Energy audits and pre-retrofit evaluations will be completed for selected buildings to estimate potential energy savings across the selected portfolio of buildings to obtain financing for efficiency upgrades and establish a performance-verification process.


New York ($690,000) -- This project will aggregate all energy-efficiency retrofit strategies into a centrally managed effort that will result in at least a 20 percent energy-efficiency improvement within five years. This effort will result in $100 million in avoided utility costs and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 8 million tons.


Rhode Island ($700,000) -- This project will implement an energy-efficiency improvement strategy by inventorying all state-owned and -managed facilities and all municipal facilities, and by identifying energy-efficiency opportunities. The project initially will focus on water supply facilities, schools, and state buildings to develop the state's Public Energy Partnership to help state agencies and local governments attain high levels of energy savings and improved building operations.


Wisconsin ($500,000) -- This project will prepare an energy-efficiency strategy through the Conserve Wisconsin Program, evaluating six million of the state's 75 million square feet of state-owned building space that has not yet been upgraded with efficiency equipment.


Improving or Developing a Fee-Based Self-Funded Public Facilities Energy Retrofit Program


Alaska, ($487,409) -- The project will leverage a $250-million revolving loan fund to support energy upgrades for public facilities, using established methodologies for benchmarking, auditing, financing, and executing retrofits of public facilities.


California, ($750,000) -- This project will leverage third-party financing and create a sustainable model to create jobs and expand upon the successful but limited energy savings performance contract (ESPC) currently in place for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The state also seeks to improve the energy efficiency of community colleges and local government buildings.


Kentucky ($715,000) -- This project will use ESPCs to improve the energy efficiency of the state's local government facilities, remove barriers, and leverage existing bond pools. The project will offer legal and technical assistance to business owners to help guide local governments through the contracting process; establish state-approved contract templates; provide oversight of audit, contract documentation, measurement and verification; and educate end users about the value and benefits of energy efficiency and ESPCs.


Minnesota ($601,924) -- This project will provide standardized master contract processes and financing services to support energy-efficiency improvements in state and local government facilities, schools, and universities. The state will create an inventory of buildings, estimate energy and water savings, and improve efficiency programs through better reporting practices. The state also will deploy "clean energy retrofit teams" to provide outreach, education, and training for local governments and school districts.


Nevada ($715,000) -- The project will accelerate the use of ESPCs in the state to establish a program with Nevada Public Works for improving state facilities and implementing best practices in energy efficiency.


North Carolina ($690,000) -- This project will provide technical assistance and contract process management for more than 20 targeted projects over the next three years. The state will expand the use of energy savings performance contracting through training programs, create and publish standardized performance contract templates, provide training on Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and expand technical assistance and data collection.


Virginia ($727,792) -- The project will leverage the state's Qualified Energy Conservation Bond allocation to reduce energy expenses 10 percent by 2020. The project seeks to achieve nearly $14 million in energy savings in 2013 by standardizing and streamlining processes to ensure successful execution of sustainable energy-efficiency improvements.


Stimulating Energy Efficiency Action in States


Alabama ($541,089) -- This project will support efforts leading to utility investment in energy-efficiency programs and encourage policies to support a lasting energy-efficiency market. The project will develop incentives for investment in energy efficiency and plans to broaden the base of stakeholder support and engagement for energy efficiency.


Washington ($520,000) -- This project will enhance the existing ESPC program by implementing an energy-management strategy that will increase the number of energy-efficiency upgrades in state-owned and -leased facilities. The project will benchmark all state buildings greater than 10,000 square feet and provide direction and accountability throughout the process, from benchmarking to installation and verification of efficiency improvements.


In an email interview with ConstructionPro Week (CPW), DOE spokesperson Niketa Kumar provided the following additional details:


CPW: How does this year’s level of funding for SEP compare with SEP funding in previous years?


Kumar: SEP’s annual appropriations for fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 totaled $50 million. SEP’s annual appropriations are used to provide funding to all 56 U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia for a wide variety of energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects to assist states in meeting their respective energy goals. In April 2009, SEP received $3.1 billion under the Recovery Act for the deployment of clean energy technology through 56 state energy offices.


CPW: How has the type of work being supported through SEP grants changed from the past couple of years?


Kumar: SEP works with state partners to deploy commercially available energy-efficiency and renewable-energy technologies to help American consumers and businesses save money by saving energy. SEP funding is flexible and allows each state to address its individual energy priorities by emphasizing the role of the state as the final decision maker. Projects supported by SEP range from energy upgrades in public buildings to save taxpayer money to installations of renewable energy systems to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil to creation of energy-security plans to provide power in the event of an emergency.


CPW: What performance goals (i.e., the overall amount of energy saved) have been set for the program?


Kumar: At a $50 million appropriation level, SEP activities generate approximately 3.5 TBtus savings and avoid approximately 230,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.


CPW: Which states were rejected for grants in this year’s program and why?


Kumar: Each of the 56 states, territories and the District of Columbia receives a formula grant through which one third of the funding is based on the state’s population, one third of the funding is based on the state’s energy consumption, and one third is distributed among the states evenly. As available, some SEP funds are awarded through a competitive process.


CPW: What changes, if any, are being planned for next year’s SEP program?


Kumar: Each of the 56 states receives an annual formula award. The topics for the SEP competitive award change annually, and the specific topics are announced in the Funding Opportunity Announcement. Authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, SEP Formula and Competitive grant allocations are subject to annual congressional appropriations.




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