SUMMER NEWSLETTER: Changing behavior, buying power, master plans, and value investments
With summer in full swing, we’ve got some light reading lined up. For newcomers to this newsletter, we highlight stories that occupy our place in the market—the intersection of green building, clean energy, and real estate development.
EVERYTHING IS SMART THESE DAYS
And we’re getting in on the fun, as part of a fantastic team helping Puget Sound Energy implement Urban Smart Bellevue. We’re working with commercial building operators and tenants to implement operational and behavior change activities, with a goal to save 16 million kWh over 18 months. As a complement to PSE’s standard equipment-based incentives, this program will put robust energy data and social marketing materials in the hands of the people running and occupying downtown Bellevue’s buildings. It’s all about creating a culture around simple actions that add up to big savings. Here’s the official launch.
Another innovative launch from the efficiency world is all about buying power. The 2030 District concept that started in Seattle has now spread to 12 cities across the U.S., representing more than 270 million square feet of building space. And the 2030 Districts Marketplace now provides value to members via discounts on energy efficient products. The Marketplace features LED lighting, HVAC controls, electric vehicle chargers, high performance windows, and advanced metering devices. Applicants must be 2030 District members, but buildings can be outside District boundaries. Let us know if you have projects that might benefit.
THE GREAT AMERICAN UTILITY PUZZLE
Buying power is also a hot topic in renewable energy circles, as organizations ramp up their thirst for clean electrons. In addition to refining financial structures such as a virtual power purchase agreement, companies are banding together to strengthen their position with various electricity market players. REBA is leading the way to defining the best practices.
Electric vehicles will be a huge piece to the puzzle, especially as grid generation is cleaned up. And utilities are showing an appetite to play this card directly. Just one recent example: San Diego Gas & Electric is installing 3,500 charging stations and implementing a real-time pricing structure.
And back in the efficiency corner, here’s a nice set of notes from a recent roundtable about Pay for Performance incentive structures being considered by utilities in the Northwest.
THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF DOMINOES
You’ve never read such a title, have you? Consider that phasing out coal will clean up grid emissions in a big way. Oregon recently became the first state to phase out coal entirely, with a target of 2035. The Colstrip plant in Montana, which is Washington’s last-standing source of coal, recently announced that it will close units 1 and 2 by 2022. And units 3 and 4 are probably not far behind, as partial owner Talen Energy is bleeding cash and wants out. Two other owners of units 3 and 4 service Oregon—Pacificorp and PGE—which makes them likely exit candidates. So the dominoes are falling in the Northwest.
And across the country, renewables accounted for two-thirds of the new generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015. Wind topped the charts with nearly 8,000 MW of capacity, which was about 50% of all new generation. Solar clocked in at just over 2,000 MW, while coal saw only 3 MW. Many more numbers here.
Here’s a quick look at how utilities around the country stack up on clean energy.
INVESTING WITH VALUES
We’re always on the lookout for inspiring stories in this space. Here are a couple that caught our attention:
Molly McCabe talks about her holistic lens, higher quality assets, and climate change impacts.
Echoing many of these principles in our home neighborhood of Columbia City, Compass Housing Alliance is embarking on an exciting project to battle homelessness. With funding help from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Compass is developing a 13-unit housing project that will feature an innovative, flexible and efficient steel-frame modular approach. This community will be online fast, can be moved in the future, and residents will be supported Compass’ people-centered, goal-oriented program.