Monthly Archives: April 2018

Congress Votes for Clean Energy with Omnibus Bill

On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed the much ballyhooed 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill contained spending and resources for many industries and groups, including for energy efficiency. The Consolidated Appropriations Act ( passed by Congress disregarded major cuts in spending proposed by the administration and instead raised funding in many areas that Congress favored, including federal programs that help consumers and businesses save energy. President Trump reluctantly signed the bill, enabling several programs to be re-established.

Overall, the bill increases funding for energy efficiency programs at the USDOE and maintains funding levels for such programs at the USEPA. The bill maintains current funding levels for ENERGY STAR® and other programs that give consumers and businesses information to select energy-efficient products. The USEPA’s laboratory, where vehicle certification testing and research occurs, was not cut.

There had been concern that funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy would be cut. Instead, the USDOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will see an overall increase in funding of 11%. The Building Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices will each receive an increase of 10% more funding. The Bill also includes a 10% increase for the Weatherization Assistance Program. It should be noted that the USDOE’s Equipment and Building Standards Program was cut by 7%.

It is ironic that Republicans in Congress strongly supported such programs that are also supported by environmentalists and by those wishing to fight Climate Change. However, Republicans supported these programs because they represent “clean energy” and cost savings, something they recognize the US needs to stay in the lead at globally. Several Republicans whose states stand to gain from these technologies, such as Ohio, which has several wind turbine manufacturing plants, supported these measures.

In addition to the funding, the Bill also addressed financial incentives for energy projects. For example, the combined heat and power (CHP) market will get a boost from the extension of the federal tax credit for such projects. The tax credit can benefit the owner or an operator of its CHP system or a 3rd party owner selling power to the utility through a power purchase agreement. It is anticipated that more investors will take an interest in microgrids and CHP, including utilities, to spread the risk of power delivery. This would be an interesting development as utilities for quite some time fought hard to discourage microgrids as unfair competition against their large grid service.

Finally, the Bill reinstates the IRS tax deduction for energy efficient upgrades of buildings called EPACT (Section 179D), going back to January 1, 2017 and is valid through December 31, 2018. EPACT provides a potential tax deduction up to $1.80 per square foot for certain energy upgrades.

CCES has the experts and experience to assist you in performing energy efficiency evaluations and implementing the projects with the maximum financial benefits for the building owner and manager, including getting the greatest incentives from appropriate agencies and tax deductions. Contact us at or 914-584-6720.

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise for 1st Time in 3 Years

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose by 1.4% in 2017, the first rise in three years. GHG emissions have reached a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes (Gt), a resumption of growth after three years of global emissions remaining flat. See The increase in CO2e emissions, however, was not universal. While most major nations saw rises, some others experienced declines, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan. The biggest decline came in the U.S., mainly because of growing installation of renewable sources of energy.

Improvements in global energy efficiency slowed down in 2017. The rate of decline in global energy intensity, the energy consumed per unit of economic output, slowed to only 1.6% in 2017, lower than the 2.0% decline in energy intensity seen in 2016.

The greatest growth in global energy demand was in Asia. China and India together represented over 40% of the increase. Energy demand in all advanced economies contributed over 20% of global energy demand growth, although their share in total energy use continued to fall.

Notable growth was also registered in Southeast Asia (which accounted for 8% of global energy demand growth) and Africa (6%), although per capita energy use in these regions still remains well below the global average.
In November 2017, the US EIA projected that growth in global CO2e emissions from energy-related sources will slow to 0.6% per year through 2040 despite increased energy consumption.

CCES has the experts to help your firms understand the technical aspects of all climate change rules and to help you organize a successful Climate Change or Energy program for diverse company types. We have helped others benefit! Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Debate Over How US Consumers and Businesses Will Be Affected by Changes To CAFE Standards

On April 2, 2018, the USEPA took initial steps to roll back Obama-era rules that mandated that automobile manufacturers meet ambitious mileage and emission standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE) from cars sold in the US by 2025. The most recent CAFÉ standards that the Trump Administration wishes to reverse were set in 2012 and mandated an average fuel economy of cars and trucks of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025. At that time, the USEPA estimated that meeting such a limit would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion tons per year and reduce total oil usage by 12 billion barrels over the cars’ lifetime. The announcement did not say to what level the USEPA would change the required fuel economy requirement – back to the pre-2012 level or something in between.

US automakers argued that the current standards for 2025 were too difficult and costly for car manufacturers to meet and would likely cause car prices to rise significantly and/or force manufacturers to produce a fleet of cars for sale not reflective of what US consumers want. Each of these could hurt the U.S. economy. In addition, some business interests point to research studies that indicate that reducing gasoline consumption in the transportation sector is not as effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to reducing energy use in the residential building sector. (

Historically, California has requested and received the right to enforce stricter standards than the nationwide one given its smog issues. However, the USEPA indicated they may fight California and any other state that may wish to maintain the 54.5 mpg standard. California subsequently did. Several car manufacturers stated that it would be difficult to build and sell fleets of cars having to meet different mileage requirements for California (and other states that may follow it) and for the rest of the US. Leaders from states representing one-third of the US car market stated support for the current standards; it is unknown how many will follow through.

On the other hand, several business groups issued statements against the proposed roll back of fuel economy standards, stating that such actions would undermine the global competitiveness of the US auto industry at a time when the larger world market is prioritizing cleaner vehicles and those that use less gasoline, and save consumers and businesses (which are major customers for automobiles and trucks) significant costs. Other statements pointed out that the aggressive fuel economy standard would also reduce the US’s dependence on oil, reduce climate risk, create jobs, and by saving costs at the gas pump, give US consumers more discretionary spending opportunities, growing the overall economy. Strong fuel economy standards also offer automakers flexibility to keep market share by selling fuel efficient vehicles during periods when gasoline prices spike.

Given the recent tumult and controversy at the USEPA and its Administrator, Scott Pruitt, it is unknown whether the agency will modify the CAFÉ Standards, how drastically, and when and how. But this will likely result in lawsuits and other actions.

CCES has the experts to help your firm keep up on the technical aspects of federal and state environmental rules so you can make informed decisions. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Using Utilization and Activity Data in the Workplace

This blog and newsletter has published many articles on how to smartly save energy. But a broader issue to address, which will also save energy is about proper space utilization. How and when is our space being used throughout the day? If this issue can be managed well, then savings, not just in energy usage, but in rents and other expenses can be saved, as well. While many companies track when different spaces are used, also cataloging how effectively space is used can provide information about both the cost and the value of corporate real estate.

Many companies track worker population and usage of different portions of their space in order to understand the cost of their space, such as tracking employee density, square footage, energy consumption, and other costs. But additional studies can result in deeper understandings about how space results in greater efficiency, productivity, and retention.

To determine whether a company is getting its cost worth of a space, utilization data, such as how often spaces are used over a given time and by how many employees, is most important. Utilization refers to how often spaces are in use over a given period of time. Knowing the usage (or lack of usage) of space can help the company plan future usage better, more effectively using real estate costs. It also affects energy usage, as with utilization data, one can program thermostats more accurately to respond to real needs to keep warm or cold.

The follow up question is how best to obtain utilization data. The simplest way is to collect data that already exists, such as reservations for conference rooms. However, this way is inexact, as many of us know of people who reserve a conference room or other area and then never use it (but reserve it “just in case”) or use it for a much shorter time than planned. Thus, such data may need to be supplemented by humans actually walking down the halls and recording what’s going on from time to time to see if what is reserved is really happening. Of course, technology exists, too, to obtain this data. Sensors not only turn on and off lights, but also can collect data about how many people are in a room for a given amount of time if designed and programmed properly. Of course, researching, procuring, installing, and using such technology can be expensive. Depending on the accuracy needed, this can be helpful or an occasional walk-through by people can provide the accuracy needed.

How is this related to energy? Someone told me a story that is quite relevant. She told me that a review of reservations, backed up by some visual data indicated that a certain conference room, popular most of the time, was mainly unused in the summer. This room is in the southwest corner of the building and, therefore, tends to get warmer on a given summer afternoon. A check of the thermostat showed that it was set for 74 deg. during the day, perhaps a level not comfortable enough with the afternoon sun coming in. Resetting the thermostat for a few degrees lower encouraged others to utilize this conference room more.

But getting back to the broader question, it is paramount that your organization decide what your goals should be: to lower real estate or energy costs, or improve productivity? This will help you decide whether you want to focus on gathering more utilization data or more activity data of your employees throughout the facility. Then one decides whether it wants to utilize and coordinate sensor technology around the property (“passive” approach” and what type of technology or use instead human observations and/or interviews, of which there is software to manage responses and “crunch the numbers”.

CCES has the experts to help you study energy usage in your facility, including where in the building or doing which functions uses the most energy (and costs), and can help you pinpoint the most cost effective energy saving strategies. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.