Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Energy Efficiency is Good for NM: Building A Better America

Energy Efficient Buildings Would Reduce Global Warming Pollution, Save New Mexican Families $309 Annually  (photo to right by , insert by dfnm)

CO2-emissionsNew Mexican families could save $309 every year on their electricity bills by 2030 if the government invests in the energy efficiency of our buildings today, according to a new report by Environment New Mexico. Saving energy in our buildings would also help New Mexico’s fight against global warming, reducing global warming pollution from buildings by 31 percent—the equivalent of taking more than 657,000 cars off the road.

“It’s time to build better,” said Sanders Moore, Director, Environment New Mexico.  “Bold efficiency measures for buildings can cut energy use in our homes and businesses by almost a quarter by 2030, reducing pollution and saving consumers money.”

Right now, 40 percent of the energy used in America goes to heat, cool, and power our buildings. And because much of this energy comes from dirty and dangerous sources like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power, this accounts for nearly half of global warming pollution in the country. Furthermore, much of this energy is wasted, flying out of leaky doors and windows. This high level of energy consumption pumps billions of tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere and costs Americans nearly $400 billion every year.

Our report, Building a Better America: Saving Energy and Money with Efficiency, analyzes the benefits New Mexico would see if we committed to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings. The report uses government data to estimate reduced energy consumption, decreased fossil fuel use, money saved on energy bills, and global warming pollution prevented in 2020 and 2030.

Making our buildings more efficient would:

  • Reduce the projected energy use of New Mexico’s buildings 28% percent by 2030
  • Prevent the emission of 7.85 million tons of global warming pollution every year by 2030, the equivalent of taking 657,000 cars off the road.
  • Save the average New Mexico family of four $309 a year by 2030.

“That’s the best part about making energy efficiency improvements,” said Moore. “They pay for themselves as consumers enjoy lower energy bills and a cleaner environment year after year.”

Hotel-Andaluz-Rooftop-PanelsGary Goodman, Chief Executive Officer of Goodman Realty and owner of Hotel Andaluz stated that “energy efficiency is a ‘win-win’ proposition. There is a good payback on the investment, we promote our local economy, conserve resources and reduce pollution.  In addition, there is a very real opportunity to make Albuquerque and New Mexico a national leader in the field of resource management.” (Photo above by treehugger, insert by dfnm.)

Environment New Mexico is calling for policies that will help us reach our efficiency goals, including:

  • Steady improvements to building codes over time so that all new buildings are increasingly efficient, culminating in a zero net energy standard by 2030, when new buildings should be so efficient that they can produce all the energy they need on site using renewable energy like wind and solar.
  • Investing in energy retrofits and weatherization to improve the efficiency of existing buildings 30 percent by 2030.
  • Supporting innovative financing mechanisms that will unleash public and private investment in building efficiency.

As documented in this report, successful efficiency programs and incentives at the federal, state, and local level are already paying off, saving consumers money and dramatically reducing energy use. For example, Silver Gardens, a mixed-income, award-winning apartment building in downtown Albuquerque is helping tenants maintain low electric bills by reducing overall energy use by a minimum of 27% over conventionally constructed buildings.  Shelly Capone with Romero-Rose, the developer and owner of Silver Gardens noted that they are “very proud to have produced a high energy efficient, mixed-income apartment complex on a former brownfield site in downtown Albuquerque.”

“There are already thousands of super-efficient buildings all around the country, Silver Gardens apartment building and Hotel Andaluz are two examples right here in downtown Albuquerque” concluded Moore. “Most buildings last for decades, so investing in energy efficiency locks in savings for years to come and builds a strong foundation for the future of our environment and our economy.”

March 27, 2012 at 05:32 PM in Building Code Energy Efficiency, Climate, Energy, Environment | |

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Homebuyers Energy Savings Tax Credit Bill Passes House 44-20, Introduced in Senate

Green chamber of commerceShort-term Tax Credit Encourages Consumers to Buy New Energy Efficient Homes or Upgrade Foreclosed Homes, Creating New Construction Jobs, Improving the Existing Unsold Home Market and Generating Net State Revenues

CS HB 177 the New Homebuyers Energy Savings Tax Credit plan that will create new construction jobs and generate important revenue passed the House Floor last evening and introduced to the Senate today. HB177 passed the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee and the House Taxation and Revenue without opposition.

The plan, analyzed by the non-partisan research organization Architecture 2030, builds on the success of the federal First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit, as a means of increasing new homes sales and renovations in a distressed housing market. The plan marries a refundable state tax credit with energy reduction targets in order to dramatically increase private spending, stimulate new building construction, expand the local tax base and generate much needed jobs and tax revenue.

"The Energy Efficient Home Income Tax Credit will create well-paying construction jobs, help New Mexico's working families save money on their utility bills, and make homes more affordable," said Representative Brian Egolf. "The proposal will also bring major benefits to small businesses statewide and help move foreclosed properties off the auction block and into a family's future. I look forward to bringing this bill to the House Floor."

"This tax credit goes directly to the consumer, for either upgrading a foreclosed home or buying a new energy efficient home," said Lawrence Rael, President of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce. "The goal is to get people into energy efficient homes while spurring growth in the construction industry."

"The New Homebuyer Energy Savings Tax Credit'-like the popular First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit-is focused on encouraging new homes sales which will help revitalize the construction market," said Ed Mazria, CEO of Architecture2030. "This tax credit also helps the existing home market, as it offers the same tax credit for upgrading foreclosed properties that are reducing property values in communities across our state."

The Plan includes a refundable:

$4,000 State tax credit or rebate for purchasing a HERS 60 or equivalent home; $6,000 State tax credit or rebate for purchasing a HERS 25 or equivalent home; and a $8,000 State tax credit or rebate for purchasing a zero-net-energy or HERS 0 home.

The Plan would also offer owners of foreclosed homes:

$4,000 State tax credit or rebate for a 50 percent energy reduction $6,000 State tax credit or rebate for a 75 percent energy reduction $8,000 State tax credit or rebate for a 100 percent energy reduction

Under the Plan, each dollar ($1) of State incentive would not only pay for itself, but would generate approximately:

$14.10 in construction spending and $7.19 in indirect and induced spending creating much-needed jobs; $1.36 in State and Local Government taxes from construction spending, and $0.70 from indirect and induced spending; and $0.11 in property taxes

The bill is supported by the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, the New Mexico Association of Counties, the New Mexico, Central and Santa Fe Home Builders Association, the NM Green Building Council and the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

February 13, 2012 at 07:48 AM in Brian Egolf, Building Code Energy Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Jobs, Lawrence Rael, NM Legislature 2012, Taxes | |

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Experts: Chavez Green Jobs Program Exactly What New Mexico Needs


From the Marty Chavez for Congress Campaign.

On Monday, former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez held a press conference at Jefferson Green, New Mexico's first USGBC LEED Gold Certified building, to discuss his plan to stimulate job growth in New Mexico's clean energy economy.

The plan, titled “A Vision for A World Class Economy in New Mexico,” is a framework for creating jobs and strengthening the foundation of New Mexico's clean energy future based on encouraging innovation in new technologies and investing in public education and job training.

"New Mexico's future lies in leading the nation towards a 21st century clean energy economy. To reach these goals, we must focus on large-scale ingenuity and innovation,” said Chavez. “As your Representative, I will forge a strong bond between our Congressional delegation, state and local leaders, the national labs, educational systems, as well as business and labor interests to craft legislation that utilizes our natural and high-tech resources to promote sustainable, long term job creation in New Mexico’s clean energy economy.”

Marty's plan covers a wide array of initiatives that take advantage of central New Mexico's incredible resources that will serve as a launch pad for our new economy including technology transfer from the national labs for commercialization, integrating intellectual infrastructure into public schools, regulatory reform, streamlining of funding processes, engaging private investment, updating best practices of government and other public entities, expanding PACE programs, modernizing electrical production and distribution, green grid development, support for bio-fuel research, recognizing the importance of natural gas as a bridge fuel and perhaps most importantly, protecting and respecting the natural environment.

Marty was joined by a number of local innovators and job creators including Karen Cook, President of EECOM; Jack McGowan, owner of Energy Control; Former New Mexico Secretary of Economic Development Fred Mondragon; Mike Mattioli, co-founder of Consolidated Solar Technologies; and Jason Lott, Director of Leasing for Mesa del Sol.

"It’s exciting to see a candidate that has this vision for the future and recognizes how we can bring to bear all the resources that are available to pursue not just smart grid but also smart energy on a larger scale,” said Jack McGowan. “We’ve got some award winning projects here in New Mexico that have been done at the University and elsewhere, along with all the work underway out at Mesa del Sol that presents an even greater opportunity to take a smart grid and turn it into a job engine for our communities and for our state.”

Karen Cook, speaking about Marty's ability to get thing done said, “Words are easy to print, but it's very difficult to be effective in actually implementing strategies - and [Marty's] done that. When [Marty's proposals] come into effect, they will bring us a far better community in the future.”

Fred Mondragon talked about his time in the Chavez Mayoral administration, noting, “[Marty] understood what the issues were in terms not only of global warming, not only about jobs but also the importance of energy efficiency, in terms of national security, in terms of exports versus imports, in terms of job creation, and that’s where we were able to work together. Marty worked with Science and Tech Park at Sandia to create many, many jobs by bringing in, keeping and maintaining the first alternative energy companies in the country. And we were able to keep companies that transferred technology from Sandia National Laboratories, [such as] Emcore, and others. He really was part of the group that initially built the Science and Technology Park. And Emcore was one of the results of that with breakthrough technology that’s creating wonderful opportunities for jobs in New Mexico.”

“I truly believe that one of the unique things [about Marty as Mayor] was that [he] always had a fast forward future vision,” added Mattioli. “Whether it was looking at information technologies, as when we did the fiber optic all throughout Downtown Albuquerque, or now when we started to do solar projects, it’s that vision that we need inside of our communities, inside of our cities and inside of our state to continue to drive these things forward so that we have strength and continue to see a change from looking at fossil fuels.”

Lott, on behalf of Mesa del Sol, also spoke to Marty's time as Mayor. “I want to first talk about the vision under Mayor Marty Chavez. And his vision is actually taking place right now. [Mesa del Sol] is probably the only developer in the country who’s moving forward with the housing program with the size that we’re building at in Mesa del Sol. These will really be eco-friendly houses, with solar and water catching and all these things that the Mayor had the vision so many years ago to implement. But it’s also all about jobs. That’s where we come in. We’re actively out there, getting companies to move to New Mexico and take advantage of this great infrastructure we have. Sure the sunshine is great but without the proper legislation, the proper universities, the proper economic tools, it’s really just lines on paper. We have the infrastructure in place and it's being utilized. At Mesa del Sol alone we have over 2,000 people working out there today. Right now. These are real jobs and real salaries paid to New Mexicans. So we really feel that this next step that [Marty wants to] implement is the next step to create more jobs and we’re in support.”

In closing, Chavez added, “Throughout my career, when I set out to accomplish something on behalf of New Mexican families, I got the results they needed. I am the the only candidate in this race who has actually helped to create meaningful green jobs in this district. I worked tirelessly to bring innovative solar companies like Schott Solar to Albuquerque, expand Emcore and K-Tech's local operations and attract the film industry with Albuquerque Studios and am proud to have helped create the Sandia Science and Technology Park. Plainly, I am the best prepared candidate to lead in our clean energy economy.”

The full plan, “A Vision for A World Class Economy In New Mexico,” is available at www.martychavez.com/greenjobs.

February 1, 2012 at 05:09 AM in Building Code Energy Efficiency, Candidates & Races, Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Martin Chavez, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012 | |

Monday, January 30, 2012

NM Green Chamber Applauds New Survey Demonstrating Strong Public Support for Renewable Energy Jobs

Bipartisan Survey Finds Seventy Percent of New Mexico Voters Recognize that Renewable Energy Creates Jobs, Seventy-One Percent Support State's Renewable Energy Standard.

The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce President Lawrence Rael applauded today's results from the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll, which found that New Mexico voters across the political spectrum strongly support renewable energy jobs and want to get more of their electricity from renewable energy. Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm) conducted the survey for Colorado College.

"This bipartisan survey shows that New Mexicans understand that renewable energy creates jobs and they want more of their electricity to come from wind and solar power-a lot more," said Mr. Rael. "This survey should be a clear guide to policymakers at the PRC and state government, as to how strongly the public desires more renewable energy jobs and generation."

The NM Green Chamber of Commerce highlighted a few key results:

• Seventy percent of New Mexico voters feel increasing the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power will create new jobs in New Mexico.
• Seventy-one percent of New Mexico voters want the existing standard for the amount of energy to be obtained from renewable energy sources, which is currently 20 percent by 2020, to be kept in place while 24 percent want to see this standard lowered.
• Sixty-six percent of New Mexico voters think the highest priority for meeting America's energy needs should be reducing our need for more coal, oil and gas by expanding our use of clean, renewable energy that can be generated in the U.S., compared to 28 percent that think the highest priority should be drilling and digging for more coal, oil, and gas wherever we can find it in the U.S.
• The two energy sources New Mexico voters want to encourage the use of most are solar power (66 percent) and wind power (52 percent).
• The energy source New Mexico voters want to discourage the use of most is coal (63 percent).

New Mexico Results you can see here.

Western Energy Results you can see here.

January 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM in Building Code Energy Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Jobs, NM Legislature 2012 | |

02/03: Support Fair Business Taxes, Renewable Energy, and Encourage Local Incentives!

The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce
will be hosting a
legislative action day for our members in Santa Fe on
Friday, February 3rd.

What is the Green Chamber Legislative Action Day?
An opportunity for you to talk with your legislators about the issues important to your business.

What will I have to do?
Come to Santa Fe on February 3rd. We will train you on talking to your legislator and make sure that you understand the issues and talking points on legislation important to you and our Green Chamber members across the state.

Top Four Reasons you should attend:
1. Advocate for a Level Playing Field for Small Business
2. Keep New Mexico Investing in Clean Energy
3. Encourage New Energy Efficient Construction
4. Network with Important Decision Makers and Like-Minded Businesses

Legislative Action Day Agenda : Friday, February 3rd

One-page Issue briefs on top five key issues to be provided to all participants by Wednesday February 1. 

NMGCC has a block of rooms on hold at Garrett's Desert Inn for $69 per room including parking (tel 800-888-2145). The Inn is located one-block from the New Mexico Legislature.

7-8:30 AM NMGCC Directors Legislative Breakfast
Location: Garrett's Desert Inn 311 Old Santa Fe Trail Santa Fe, New Mexico 

9AM Lobby Day Training Briefing Welcome: Lawrence Rael, President, NM Green Chamber of Commerce
Issue Review: Allan Oliver, CEO, NMGCC

Lobbying Tactics: Traci Cadigan, Board of Directors, NMGCC
Location: Garrett's Desert Inn

10:30AM Constituent Businesses Lobby Senators, Representatives on House/Senate Floor

12:30-1PM Rolling Debrief/Brown Bag Lunch with NMGCC staff: Location: to be confirmed

2pm Legislative Committee Hearings

5pm+NMGCC Green Drinks:  Location: to be confirmed

Please RSVP by Wednesday, February 1st to info@nmgreenchamber.com .
This will help us plan to have materials ready and your legislators identified before you arrive.
To see entire flier click here: Support Fair Business Taxes, Renewable Energy, and Encourage Local Incentives!.

January 30, 2012 at 09:00 AM in Action Alerts, Building Code Energy Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Green Economy, NM Legislature 2012 | |

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Guest blog: Santa Fe County Commissioner; Kathy Holian Supports Local Green Building Code

Kathy_SF CountyIn 2011, the State of New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque rolled back their energy efficiency codes over strenuous objections from clean energy advocates, green builders, neighborhood associations and others.  Santa Fe County wants to follow a different path.  This week, County Commissioner Kathy Holian sent a letter to Santa Fe County residents explaining her reasons for supporting a strong Green Building Code – portions of which are excerpted below.

I want to share with you my views on a vital part of our new Sustainable Land Development Code, which is the result of over two years of work and community input on The Plan, upon which The Code must be based. The Green Building Code is essential to our planning for a sustainable future for the next several decades in Santa Fe County.

Let's start with a reality check: The cost of energy for heating and cooling homes, as well as for keeping on the lights, has been increasing inexorably over the past decade. Utility bills are getting to be a larger and larger fraction of the cost of living in a home. I don't see this trend turning around anytime soon.

Making sure that new homes are energy efficient will pay off greatly in the future. However, a builder may not always be motivated to make a home secure and efficient; after all, the builder and his or her family aren't necessarily going to be living in the home. It is also important to note that many different families live in a residence over its lifetime, so most occupiers have no say in how it is built. And if they buy a home that requires major retrofitting, it will give them pause before they tackle an onerous "This Old House."

The cost of features added to a home when it is built, like extra insulation and double-pane windows, can be amortized over 30 years in the mortgage payment. Studies have shown that the amount saved in utility bills can often be significantly more than the added amount in the mortgage payment.

Erik Aaboe, Santa Fe County Energy Specialist, did an analysis on the extra cost of a home that included energy efficiency measures to reach a HERS (Home Energy Rating Scale) rating of 70. To explain, an average home built with standard methods today is considered HERS 100. As the energy efficiency of a home increases, the HERS rating decreases; thus, a HERS 70 home is 30% more energy efficient than a HERS 100 home. (The state of New Mexico already requires that new home construction be HERS 89.)

Erik calculated that adding the following energy efficiency measures up front -- when the home is being built -- would cost $3870 for a home that uses natural gas ($4370 for propane):

- energy-efficient double-pane windows
- compact fluorescent lighting
- efficient water heater tank
- efficient furnace

The reason for the difference in upfront cost is that the (natural) gas company gives rebates -- unavailable to propane customers -- for installing efficient appliances, such as water heaters and furnaces.

The added cost to the mortgage for the natural gas home is $20.75 per month ($23.50 for the propane home). But here, at last, is where the good news comes in: The homeowner using natural gas saves $26.50 per month, and the homeowner using propane saves $129 per month. (For now, and likely for some time, propane is much more costly than natural gas, which isn't available everywhere in the County.) So the two homeowners are ahead by $5.75 and $106, respectively, per month. I will also note that a builder can improve the HERS rating of a home by merely siting it intelligently with respect to the sun, in order to take advantage of passive solar gain in winter. This usually costs nothing extra, although the topography of some lots may make that option less feasible.

The important point is that reaching a HERS 70 for a new home is not difficult, and it pays off immediately! However, there are builders who do not want to be held to this higher standard. These are the ones who are using the excuse that it will hurt people who are just trying to scrape together the money to buy their first home. But these are precisely the people who need to think of all the costs of living in a home -- not just the cost of the mortgage.

Now, in the age of dwindling energy resources -- and therefore, increasing costs -- what about the new homeowner who can just barely afford the already-built home that they have bought? How are they going to come up with thousands of dollars to heat and cool their homes over the next several years? (Not to mention the even greater, and increasing costs of retrofitting energy efficiencies.)

I believe that, bit by bit, more energy-efficient homes will be required across the country. This will be equivalent to the spread of safety regulations for home building that took hold in the last century, when, for example, people decided that it wasn't a good idea for homes to burn down due to faulty electric wiring. So, the question is: Does Santa Fe County want to be a leader in this area? Or are we going to be a follower in the national trend?

I hope you will agree that we need to be thinking ahead and not living in denial. A forward-thinking Green Building Code is really just good, old-fashioned common sense.

January 4, 2012 at 02:46 PM in Building Code Energy Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Guest Blogger, Santa Fe County Commissioner | Permalink | Comments (3)