Sustainability 101

Post COP21: A Look Ahead in 2016

COP21 Photo by Mark Dixon, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
COP21 Photo by Mark Dixon, Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

In the final month of 2015, over 200 countries came together in Paris to agree on a global strategy to deal with climate change. Here in the U.S., New York, California, Minnesota, Vermont, and Oregon are among states that have pledged to support the COP21 agreement.  This may point to greater efforts by local governments to cut emissions in the new year and beyond, perhaps bringing green opportunities your way in the form of subsidies and other means of encouragement to help companies toward even greater sustainability.

What this means for you: In short, post COP21 will see greater unified support for sustainable efforts. So if you have similar goals to fulfill, now may be a good time to start research and planning.

One Of The Biggest Sustainability Challenges Of Our Time

As an advisor in waste management and utility regulation for many municipalities, Great Forest will be helping local officials take the lead post COP21. Thanks to the multi-site metrics we collect for clients across the country, our aggregate data in Portfolio Manager will be able to help put building performance in perspective for cities, states and the U.S. as a whole.  For example, we can help to provide metrics verification for leading contributors of emissions reductions in New York, Massachusetts and California.

This data is key because according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 41% of total U.S. energy was consumed by residential and commercial buildings, with some estimates going as high as 70% for large urban cities like New York and Chicago.  A recent Harvard Business Review article called old buildings one of the biggest sustainability challenges of our time.

What this means for you: Across the country, some of the greatest impact can be made by taking aggressive measures in buildings aimed at specific weak points such as thermal inefficiencies.

State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) notes that energy efficiency measures continue to flourish in states across the country. [Click here to see the energy efficient scorecard rankings by state.]

New York State is lagging behind Massachusetts and California in the scorecard because of a lack of building efficiency coupled with high thermal requirements, the majority of which are fulfilled by onsite fuel oil and/or natural gas. California, on the other hand, has lower heating requirements and graduated electricity rate structures are common, which serve to incentivize lower energy usage.

But New York State may eventually overtake Massachusetts due to the NYC Energy Code, which is already required to be 23% more stringent more stringent than prevailing 2009 standards in its first two revisions post 2011.

Obama’s Department of Energy HVAC ruling, announced in late December 2015, will go a long way to pushing all municipalities toward the higher goals all around the US.

What this means for you: Your state’s ACEEE energy scorecard will offer insight into your operations state by state and put the BTU profile of your properties (available through EPA Portfolio Manager and some municipal energy departments) in perspective.

*Useful resource: Achieving Energy Savings and Emission Reductions from Building Energy Codes (pdf)

Upgraded Utility Tracking System

To help you plan this year, Great Forest is rolling out a carbon forecasting tool within our utility tracker so that clients can work toward their master plan objectives in an organized, consolidated fashion that is also market responsive.  Our budgeting tool takes careful consideration of economic factors in the energy markets, allowing companies to push any number of “what if” scenarios into their carbon strategy.

More To Come

Note: Great Forest will explore other COP21-related issues, such as relative transportation contributions to emissions profiles, at a later date.

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