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Sustainable Development Update
May 17, 2017

Sustainable Development Focus

Evidence of a decline in electricity use by U.S. households

Haas Energy Institute - May 8 Between 1950 and 2010, U.S. residential electricity consumption per capita increased 10-fold, an annual increase of 4% per year. But that electricity trend has changed recently. American households use less electricity than they did five years ago. Consumption dipped significantly in 2012 and has remained flat, even as the economy has improved considerably. The decrease has been experienced broadly, in virtually all U.S. states. This pattern stands in sharp contrast to previous decades. During the 1990s and 2000s, for example, residential electricity consumption per capita increased by 12% and 11%, respectively, with increases in almost all states. Previous decades experienced much larger increases.

Top 10 energy efficient U.S. cities

Facility Executive - May 11 As the federal government weighs budget cuts to energy efficiency programs, cities are stepping up their efforts to reduce energy waste. More mayors and local lawmakers in America’s largest cities are turning to energy efficiency to reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses, strengthen the resilience of their communities, and reduce pollution. Boston remains the top U.S. city for energy efficiency, receiving 84.5 out of a possible 100 points, an improvement of 2.5 from its 2015 score. Los Angeles was the most improved city. San Diego, Kansas City, and Phoenix are the second, third, and fourth most-improved cities, respectively. 

New tool to help planners talk about water demand

Next City - May 12 No matter how efficient a new development may be, growth always comes at a price, with increased demand for water one of the more tangible costs. In areas already experiencing water scarcity, it’s also potentially one of the biggest challenges to long-term sustainability. That’s why the Alliance for Water Efficiency, Environmental Law Institute, and River Network recently released a tool to help communities plan for water-neutral growth. The Net Blue Ordinance Toolkit, developed with input from seven geographically diverse regions of the U.S., is designed to meet different water needs when drafting an ordinance to require developers to offset new water demand. Another automated worksheet helps developers calculate exactly what kind and scale of offsets they’d need.

Combining 3 vehicle technologies could nearly eliminate auto emissions

Scientific American - May 3 A new report finds that layering three vehicle technologies—autonomous, electric, and shared—on top of one another could cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050 worldwide from a business-as-usual scenario. Researchers at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and the University of California, Davis, modeled how each new development might change carbon emissions around the world. While some transportation researchers have suggested autonomous cars could cut emissions by boosting driver efficiency, others project that energy use and carbon emissions would increase over a business-as-usual scenario because more people will travel farther. Emissions reduction comes only when the vehicles are electrified and plugging into an increasingly cleaner grid.

California's SGIP program closes first funding round with $90M allocated

Utility Dive - May 15 The first step of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) has closed with nearly all the $90 million in allotted funds, including $50 million for energy storage, being allocated in the first day. The program, which re-opened after a multi-year hiatus, has $566 million in funds for clean energy programs of which 79% are earmarked for energy storage. There are $156 million in funds allocated for the program's second step, scheduled to begin in June.

Vivint Solar expands sales tactics with new retail channel

Solar Industry Magazine - May 12 Residential solar provider Vivint Solar has announced the launch of a new retail sales channel. The company says it is starting with kiosks at retail locations in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Utah by the end of June and expanding into additional retail locations and states throughout the year. According to the company, representatives at the retail locations will help consumers understand how they can enjoy the benefits of solar energy and work with Vivint Solar to design, install, and maintain a system. 

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