1. Learn more at: eesi.org/briefings/view/120214housing
    Table of contents: youtu.be/unCIvyUfZMY?t=20s

    Please note that the audio quality improves markedly 20mn into the video (after technical issues were resolved).

    Speakers:

    The Honorable Jim Himes (CT)

    Katrin Klingenberg, Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS)
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Katrin_Klingenberg_120114.pdf

    Orlando Velez, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Orlando_Velez_120114.pdf

    Nicole Steele, Grid Alternatives Mid-Atlantic
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Nicole_Steele_120114.pdf

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing about how building science, renewable energy technology, creative community engagement and innovative partnerships are beginning to converge for the benefit of home owners and tenants in every income bracket.

    Well-built, ultra-energy efficient homes with on-site solar energy stay safe, comfortable and functional during severe weather and power outages. They are good for our health, our budgets and have less environmental impact than most houses being built today. The goals of affordability, resiliency and sustainability are truly complementary but difficult to achieve without key elements such as trained building professionals, accurate tools to measure energy use and improved appraisals and financing. Briefing speakers discussed affordable housing in Washington, DC, and elsewhere that has achieved the coveted “passive house” (PH) certification as well as a new approach to enable low-income residents to enjoy some of the benefits of on-site solar energy. The briefing will also discuss policies that could make this housing truly resilient, more affordable and a model for other communities.

    Passive design refers to the reliance on sound building science, precise design and construction and high-performance materials instead of mechanical systems to create a structure that is extremely airtight and energy efficient. “Passive solar” strategies are used to naturally regulate heating and cooling. These airtight structures, however, also use an energy-recovery ventilator to ensure excellent indoor air quality and comfort with minimal energy use. In addition, “active” cooling and dehumidification is important in hot and humid climates. For this reason, the Passive House Institute U.S. is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to modify and adapt the German Passivhaus standard for the multi-climate U.S. market. The hallmarks of passive houses are enhanced insulation and air sealing, triple-pane windows, and performance-measurement and verification. These principles can be applied to single-family and multifamily housing, schools, office buildings, even skyscrapers. What sets the passive design methodology apart from all others is its proven ability to reduce heating and cooling energy use by up to 90 percent compared to conventional construction. With such a low "energy load” and cost savings, these buildings can then cost-effectively incorporate other “green” features and renewable energy technologies for their electricity needs and achieve near-zero energy use and carbon emissions.

    Though many industry professionals are striving to make green building affordable, U.S. housing policies and underwriting standards are sorely outdated, making it difficult for buyers to qualify for above-code homes and in turn making it difficult for builders to build them cost competitively. Several bills that would make it easier to build and sell homes that are both affordable and sustainable are before Congress, including the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act (SAVE) and the Multifamily Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014.

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  2. Learn more at eesi.org/briefings/view/111414resiliency

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing about programs and partnerships to develop innovative, effective approaches that maximize economic and social resiliency when investing public funds in local recovery and development.

    Sam Carter
    Associate Director for Resilience, Rockefeller Foundation
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Samuel-Carter-111414.pdf

    Harriet Tregoning
    Director, Office of Economic Resilience, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Harriet-Tregoning-111414.pdf

    Matthew Dalbey
    Director, Office of Sustainable Communities, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Matthew-Dalbey-111414.pdf

    On September 17, HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience launched the National Disaster Resilience Competition, which will distribute $1 billion of HUD Disaster Recovery funds to aid recovery from prior disasters and improve future resilience. Projects to help communities recover from a disaster and make them more resilient will be eligible for grants ranging from $1 million to $500 million. In collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), all eligible communities will have the opportunity to strengthen their proposals by attending Resilience Academies across the country. The academies are supported by RF, a non-governmental organization long at the forefront of helping improve community resiliency efforts around the world. The Resilience Academies will help communities maximize future long-term returns on public investments during and after the competition. Participation in these programs is limited to jurisdictions that were Presidentially-Declared Disaster Areas in 2011, 2012 or 2013—staggeringly that actually includes 48 states and 19 other jurisdictions.

    Moreover, on October 23, the EPA invited communities to apply for technical assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. This program will support the ability of communities to “increase resilience to natural disasters and strengthen the economy, while protecting human health and the environment.” Whether a community is investing to improve flood resilience or planning development in cities or rural areas, integrating resiliency requirements is critical to the ultimate success of the community’s efforts.

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  3. Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/briefings/view/103014methane
    Table of contents: youtu.be/rVYndtf6A9I?t=20s

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that gas leaks from this sector are responsible for 29 percent of U.S. methane emissions, although some think this estimate is low. Methane is a powerful climate warming pollutant – at least 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is emitted. Methane emissions from the oil and gas sector occur in every segment of the industry, from production sites to distribution systems. Estimates of how much leakage is occurring continue to be refined, meanwhile there are a range of technologies that could lead to substantial reductions in methane emissions.

    Speakers:

    Amanda Staudt
    Director of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and Polar Research Board
    National Academy of Sciences
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Amanda_Staudt_103014.pdf

    Elgie Holstein
    Senior Director for Strategic Planning
    Environmental Defense Fund
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Elgie_Holstein_103014.pdf

    David Doniger
    Policy Director and Senior Attorney
    Natural Resources Defense Council
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/David_Doniger_103014.pdf

    Michael Obeiter
    Senior Associate, Energy & Climate
    World Resources Institute

    Brent Lammert
    Vice President Sales, Test Equipment
    FLIR Systems, Inc.
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Brent_Lammert_103014.pdf

    This briefing discussed the current state of research on methane leakage, technologies to detect and reduce emissions, policy and regulatory options, and business implications and opportunities

    Earlier this year, the Obama administration released its “Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions,” which called for improved methane measurement and reduced emissions across several sectors, including oil and gas operations. The EPA subsequently released a series of white papers on methane leakage reduction options for the oil and gas sector in order to solicit input from independent experts, and is now evaluating options for achieving further reductions from this sector. The agency’s current standards for this sector apply only to certain equipment installed after 2012, do not apply to transmission or storage facilities, and do not apply to emissions from the thousands of oil wells being completed each year. The Bureau of Land Management is also expected to propose updated standards to cut wasted natural gas by reducing venting, flaring, and other emissions from oil and gas production on public lands. A recent poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group found that among likely 2014 general election voters in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Utah, 69 percent would support a rule that would “require oil companies to significantly reduce the amount of natural gas they release or burn off into the air when they extract oil from public lands.”

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  4. Learn more and download slides at: eesi.org/briefings/view/100614cellulosic

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining the technologies that are making commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production a reality. Cellulosic ethanol is produced from agricultural residue — primarily, at this time, from corn stover (leaves, stalks and husks), which is removed in a sustainable manner after the harvest. Cellulosic ethanol is commercially produced at one U.S. facility, with two more coming on-line later this year. Combined, these three facilities are expected to produce a total of approximately 80 million gallons of renewable fuel per year. Contrary to popular belief, cellulosic fuels are not ‘phantom fuels’ but commercially viable ethanol fuels, which have been scaled up in a relatively short time period.

    Speakers:

    Kalina Bakalov
    Legislative Director, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)

    Rob Walther
    Director of Federal Affairs, Poet, LLC
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Rob_Walther_100614.pdf

    Christopher Standlee
    Executive Vice President, Global Affairs, Abengoa Bioenergy
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Chris_Standlee_100614.pdf

    Nancy Clark
    External Relations Manager, Industrial Biosciences, DuPont

    Amy Davis
    Government Relations Manager, Novozymes North America Inc.

    Currently, the U.S. transportation fuel supply contains approximately 10 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel produced primarily from cornstarch and intended to increase octane levels, lower GHG emissions and reduce dependence on petroleum. Producing ethanol from cellulosic, non-edible plant matter is more challenging, but is now making quick progress, thanks to advances in enzymes and catalyst technologies. Corn stover is now being used to produce cellulosic ethanol at commercial levels, and other feedstocks, such as perennial grasses, cover crops, and organic wastes, are being turned into ethanol in demonstration volumes. The potential is huge: according to the Department of Energy’s 2011 ‘Billion Ton Update’, there are currently 244 million dry tons of sustainably recoverable agricultural wastes that are suitable for producing cellulosic ethanol in the United States, and that number could reach as high as 910 million dry tons per year by 2030.

    In the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), Congress mandated that renewable fuels be blended into the transportation fuel supply. Under the RFS, cellulosic-based fuels are expected to eventually provide 16 billion gallons of renewable fuel per year. The RFS also mandates that cellulosic biofuels must attain 60 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions relative to gasoline. Research suggests that current improvements in technology may achieve GHG reductions upwards of 95 percent. If the production levels laid out by the RFS are met, all renewable fuels combined could meet up to one-third of the country’s fuel needs.

    The U.S. cellulosic fuel industry is already a significant local economic driver in rural areas, and has attracted substantial federal, local, and international investments. Currently, cellulosic ethanol and other advanced renewable fuels production in the United States supports 4,500 direct full-time jobs, and is poised to grow significantly. For comparison, the more mature corn ethanol industry supports approximately 86,500 direct jobs. Advanced cellulosic fuels and refining technologies are expected to move ethanol production beyond the ‘corn belt’, fulfilling the RFS’s promise of regionally appropriate feedstocks for renewable fuels.

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  5. For more information: eesi.org/expo2014

    The 17th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO on July 31, 2014.
    Panel 7: Energy Efficiency

    Bruce Quinn, Vice President, Government Affairs for Rockwell Automation; Industrial Energy Efficiency Coalition
    The Opportunity of Industrial Energy Efficiency
    Often overlooked in the policy arena, the energy savings opportunity in the manufacturing and industrial sector is massive, as industry accounts for one-third of U.S. energy use, and there are technologies available today making industrial processes far more energy efficient.

    John Pouland, Vice-President (Government Affairs and Solutions), Philips Lighting
    The Importance of Energy Efficiency in the Private and Public Space
    John will focus on the rapid development of LED technologies and the economic and environmental impacts this technology has for consumers and the Government (particularly the military) alike.

    Gregory B Johnson, President, Blue Penguin Corporation
    Blue Penguin tracks and reduces companies' energy use. Using a suite of hardware and proprietary software, Blue Penguin can see where waste is and eliminate it.

    Tom Herron, Senior Manager (Communications and Marketing), National Fenestration Rating Council
    The National Fenestration Rating Council provides accurate information to measure and compare energy performance of windows, doors and skylights.

    Harrison Godfrey, Manager (National Policy & Partnerships), Opower
    Opower: Unlocking Efficiency through Behavior & Information
    Behavioral Energy Efficiency, as pioneered by Opower, has the potential to save the United States almost 19,000 GWhs of energy each year, or roughly $2.1 billion in energy expenditures. This presentation talks about just what Behavioral Energy Efficiency is, where it's already at work today, and how government policy can unleash this potential.

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