President Obama Announces “Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative”

president-obama-clean-energyOn Tuesday, the White House announced “Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative”

President Obama is committed to ensuring that every American family can choose to go solar and to cut their energy bills – and that every American community has the tools they need to tackle local air pollution and global climate change.

This initiative puts an end to years of opposition to the program by the Federal Housing Administration.

HUD and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are releasing new guidance to unlock residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing by outlining how properties with PACE assessments can be purchased and refinanced with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance and by welcoming the use of PACE financing for Veterans Affairs (VA)-insured mortgages. In addition, DOE is releasing a draft of their updated Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing for public comment. PACE is a tool that allows American homeowners, including low- and moderate- income households and veterans, to finance solar and energy efficiency improvements at no upfront cost and to pay back the cost over time through their property tax bill;

PACE… is a simple and effective way to pay for a wide range of energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades to buildings. Payments are made through a special tax added to the property’s tax bill and repaid with terms of up to 30 years, depending on service area and type of improvement. PACE financing may transfer with the property upon sale and may have tax benefits to the property owner.

pace-800x500PACE is the acronym for “property assessed clean energy”, and is a popular method of financing energy-efficient and renewable energy renovations on existing properties. As Ygrene, the nation’s leading provider of PACE financing explainsFirst introduced in California in 2008, PACE programs have been approved by 31 states including Florida.  In 2013. the City of Miami and 6 other Miami-Dade County municipalities launched the Green Corridor Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program for local property owners. However, because the Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) opposed the programs nationwide, PACE financing has not been a viable choice for the homeowners who would most benefit from it.

Now, thanks to the “Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative”, HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be allowing buyers to use FHA and VA insured loans to purchase homes that have already undergone energy-efficient and/or renewable energy improvements using the PACE financing program.

president-obama-renewable-energyOther programs in the initiative include:

  • DOE is developing a Community Solar Challenge that will award teams in dozens of communities up to $100,000, in cash prizes and technical assistance, to develop innovative models to increase solar deployment and cut communities’ energy bills, in particular in low income communities;
  • HHS and DOE are making it easier to use hundreds of millions of dollars for energy efficiency improvements by providing technical assistance to Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grantees on their ability to access 15 – 25 percent of their annual LIHEAP funding for low cost energy efficiency improvements, including renewable energy;
  • DOE is making sure low- and moderate-income Americans can take advantage of the jobs that come with a transition to clean energy by launching the Solar Training Network, which will help create a more inclusive workforce by connecting solar workforce trainers, solar employers, and individuals interested in working in the solar industry;
  • EPA, DOE, and HUD are bringing people together to share best practices on how to finance and overcome barriers to creating healthier communities; and
    More than 120 housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies, and organizations in more than 36 states across the country are committing to investing $287 million and putting in place more than 280 megawatts (MW) of solar energy projects, including projects to help low- and moderate- income communities save on their energy bills and further the deployment of community solar.

Since President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 30 fold and solar jobs are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.

If you are interested in using PACE financing to update your residential, commercial or multi-family property with energy-efficient or renewal energy improvements, contact me at 305.801.3133 or info@downtown-miami-brickell.com for more information about the programs available.

Pools of Our Lives

Today is the first day of summer, and here in South Florida that means our swimming pools will be in especially heavy demand. As any pool owner knows, the energy needed to run the pool filtration pump can add some serious dollars to our electric bills – an average of $460 per year according to EnergyStar.gov!

Their studies also show that replacing your old pool pump with an EnergyStar rated pump could save you up to $340 per year in electric bills, and pay for itself in less than two years. Best of all, many manufacturers are offering rebates on new EnergyStar pool pumps:

Pool pump manufacturers offering rebates on EnergyStar products 2016

DID YOU KNOW?

If all pool pumps sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to about $155 million each year and 2.5 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emission from more than 260,000 vehicles.

Here’s to a Happy & Enery Efficient Summer Everyone!

Microwave, electric oven or slow cooker – Which uses the least energy?

I received this as an email from the Florida Power & Light blog, and had to share because the answer was surprising:

Question: What uses the least amount of energy when cooking: a microwave, electric oven or slow cooker?

Answer: That’s an easy one. A microwave oven is typically your best cooking option if you’re looking to save energy. Let’s take a look at how microwaves compare to other cooking appliances.

Of course, to that I will add: For additional energy savings, make sure all of your appliances are Energy Star qualified.

USGBC Inforgraphic: LEED in the World

USGBC LEED in the World infographic
LEED registered & certified projects in the world as of April 2013; courtesy USGBC

 

The U.S. Green Building Council has a new, easy to read, infographic called “LEED in the World”. It lists the number of registered and certified LEED projects internationally, along with the top 10 countries with green buildings.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is an internationally recognized program “that provides third-party verification of green buildings. Building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for the project. Learn more about LEED, the facts, and the LEED rating systems.”

According to the USGBC’s website, building to LEED standards can:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Conserve energy, water and other resources
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Qualify for money-saving incentives, like tax rebates and zoning allowances

Perhaps this is why, as the USGBC notes, the “numbers show the explosive growth of the green building movement beyond North America, demonstrating the growing global consensus about the worldwide imperative to green the built environment.”

Invisible Solar Cells in Place of Window Glass?

It sounds like science fiction, but the technology has already been developed in a public-private partnership between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and New Energy Technologies, Inc.  Tina Casey of Clean Technica gives us all the details in her guest post below. I think she would agree – this is an exciting time to be a tree-hugger.

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Invisible Solar Cells That Look Like Glass

If researchers could develop a low cost, invisible solar cell to sub in for ordinary window glass, the result would be a sustainability twofer of epic proportions. Windows are notorious as a weak spot for energy efficiency, even in newer buildings. That goes double for millions of older buildings in the U.S. Upgrade to new see-through solar cell windows and you get to cut down on energy loss, keep all the energy savings from using natural daylight whenever possible, and generate renewable energy, too.

 

In terms of President Obama’s national energy policy, see-through glass solar cells provide another pathway for transforming the nation’s stock of older, inefficient buildings from an energy-sucking liability into a major source of clean, renewable energy. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the invisible solar modules being developed in a public-private partnership between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a company called New Energy Technologies, Inc.

Read More at Clean Technica

What to Know About Low Energy and Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

CFL 1I’ve written about Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and other energy efficient lighting before, but this informative article from Green Building Elements was too good not to share:



Guest Post: What to Know About Low Energy and Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (via Green Building Elements)

Industries and retailers are causing a lot of confusion by referring to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) as ‘low energy light bulbs’. This creates confusion as there are other types of low energy light bulbs, like LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, which are becoming more commonly used in…

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The Green Home Building Boom

Green Home Building Booming, Could Be $114 Billion Market By 2016 (via Clean Technica)

The confluence of a stagnant housing market and consumer desire to save money is creating a green home building boom that could be worth up to $114 billion by 2016, according to a new report from McGraw Hill Construction. Green homes represented $17 billion, or 17 percent of the overall construction…

Eco-Friendly Features from Green Building Elements

green-house-earth-day1-300x300



Guest Post: Turn Your New Real Estate Green for Big Money and Eco-Awareness Benefits (via Green Building Elements)

Want to create eco-awareness with your new piece of real estate? Eco-friendly hardware and pieces are going to be your best option. Apart from creating awareness, green installations would also increase the value of the location, luring in attractive offers if you sell it in the future. They’ll also…

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Advantages of a Solar Heat Exchanger

Heat-Exchanger_-Brazetek



Guest Post: Advantages of a Solar Heat Exchanger (via Green Building Elements)

A solar heat exchanger is a component of a solar water heating system that provides hot water to a residential or commercial environment using solar energy from the sun. Solar energy is absorbed and captured then stored within the heat exchanger. This is used to heat the water, which then travels throughout…

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IKEA’s South Florida Location is the State’s Largest Non-Utility Solar Owner

Photo: Business Wire
Photo: Business Wire


IKEA Plugs-in South Florida’s Largest Solar Energy System to Become State’s Largest Non-Utility Solar Owner (via Green Building Elements)

IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings retailer, today officially plugged-in the solar energy system installed at its South Florida store in the City of Sunrise – which will be the largest solar installation in South Florida and, when combined with IKEA projects already completed atop stores…

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