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Sustainable Development Update
July 7, 2017

Sustainable Development Focus

Sustainable design of communities dramatically reduces waste

Scientific American - Jun 26 In the past decade, the construction and retrofitting of individual homes to reduce energy and water use has grown explosively. Yet applying green construction to multiple buildings at once may be an even better idea. Sharing resources and infrastructure could reduce waste, and retrofitting impoverished or moderate-income neighborhoods could also bring cost savings and modern technology to people who would normally lack such opportunities. One powerful example is the Oakland EcoBlock project, a multidisciplinary endeavor involving urban designers, engineers, social scientists, and policy experts. The program will retrofit 30 to 40 contiguous old homes in a lower- to middle-income neighborhood and aims to apply existing technology to dramatically reduce fossil fuel and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. These measures should reduce annual electricity consumption by more than half and bring carbon emissions to zero—a valuable feat, considering that more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions emanate from residences.

Property owners reap cost savings with green building

Bisnow - Jun 27 Green infrastructure is an umbrella term for anything that helps manage stormwater naturally and often includes rain gardens, green roofs, cisterns, and rainwater recycling. Stormwater runoff, which often contains oil, grease, and fertilizer, is among the most consistent pollutants of local waterways, according to the U.S. National Research Council. With more development in urban areas consisting of concrete and other impervious surfaces, stormwater often has no place to go other than down the local sewage channel. The Urban Land Institute (ULI), which reviewed several water management and green infrastructure systems in a recent report, found in addition to benefiting the city, green infrastructure is adding value for property owners. These additional amenities, such as green roofs, parks, and water features, will often lead to rental increases. For example, a 200-unit apartment complex at 1330 Boylston in Boston garnered an additional $300 to $500/month in rent for units that overlooked the green roof. The green roof cost $113,000 to build, and the extra rent nets $120,000/year, according to the ULI report.

Cut U.S. commercial building energy use 29 percent with widespread controls - Jun 23 According to a new report, if commercial buildings fully used controls nationwide, the U.S. could slash its energy consumption by the equivalent of what is currently used by 12 to 15 million Americans. The report examines how 34 different energy efficiency measures, most of which rely on various building controls, could affect energy use in commercial buildings such as stores, offices, and schools. Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found the measures could cut annual commercial building energy use by an average of 29 percent. This would result in between 4 to 5 quadrillion British Thermal Units in national energy savings, which is about 4 to 5 percent of the energy consumed nationwide. The report offers the first detailed, national benefit analysis of multiple energy efficiency measures to address building operational problems.

California weighs making EVs cheaper right off the lot

Bloomberg - Jun 28 The federal tax credit for electric car purchases has an end in sight, but California doesn’t want demand for the zero-emissions vehicles to meet the same fate. The state is considering a bill, dubbed the California Electric Vehicle Initiative, to provide rebates to EV buyers at the time of purchase, reducing the sale price right as customers drive off the lot by as much as $10,000. The bill, which proposes giving the most cash to low-income buyers, looks to set aside as much as $3 billion for the incentives. The bill, proposed by state Assemblymember Phil Ting, would replace the existing state program and eliminate the need for buyers to file tax rebates with the state. The legislation, which passed a vote on the assembly floor in June, faces votes in two state Senate committees this week.

JPMorgan Chase collaborating with GE on energy-efficiency initiative expected to save $200M over 10 years

New York Business Journal - Jun 29 JPMorgan Chase & Co. is rolling out a national energy-efficiency initiative with General Electric Co. at 4,500 branch offices around the country. The branches will be outfitted with sensors and software to reduce electric and gas consumption by 15 percent and water from irrigation systems by 20 percent. JPMorgan expects to save more than $200 million over a decade through the initiative.

UC Merced to boost campus sustainability with solar and storage

Solar Industry Magazine - Jun 26 The University of California, Merced’s Triple Zero Commitment aims for zero net energy use, the creation of zero net landfill waste, and climate neutrality on campus by 2020 – a commitment that coincides with the university’s expansion project to nearly double the campus’ physical capacity by that same year. In support of UC Merced’s goals, the university is working with SunPower Corp. to install a 5-megawatt solar power system featuring a carport-and-rooftop installation, complemented by a 500-kilowatt energy storage solution from Stem. The system will be UC Merced’s second featuring SunPower solar technology. SunPower says it is responsible for more than 70 percent of solar under construction or operating at UC facilities, which include systems in Berkeley, Davis, Riverside, and Santa Barbara.

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