COP21 and the ‘Hidden Fuel’ of Targeted Energy Efficiency Measures.…and More Quick Energy Efficiency News

Dec. 9, 2015
Tupelo, Mississippi expects to reduce its utility budget by 18 percent through energy efficiencymeasures at 23 buildings and 27 sports fields — the largest energy efficiency endeavor ever undertaken for the state’s parks and recreation areas….and other quick energy efficiency news.

The city of Tupelo, Mississippi expects to reduce its utility budget by 18 percent through energy efficiency measures at 23 buildings and 27 sports fields — the largest energy efficiency endeavor ever undertaken for the state’s parks and recreation areas.

In all, the effort should cut annual energy costs by $140,000 or $2.8 million over the life of the installations. The upgrades are also expected to spur economic growth and sports tourism revenue, once they are completed in November 2016.

Schneider Electric recently announced the start of construction on the $5 million energy savings performance contract (ESPC) project with the city. ESPCs help publicly funded entities make capital improvements over longer payback periods. The project is expected to bring the city several long-term benefits such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, better financial management and environmental protection.

Key components of the ESPC project include new sports field and park lighting, interior and exterior building lighting, mechanical renovations, building automation system  upgrades and building envelope sealing. Schneider expects the project to achieve tremendous energy savings, with environmental impacts equivalent to:

  • Removing 12,400 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Planting 10,160 acres of trees
  • Powering 1,129 homes

Schneider Electric says it has implemented more than 550 ESPC projects in 23 years across the nation and helped clients around the world save more than $1 billion.


Energy efficiency measures have been in the spotlight during this month’s Paris Climate Conference (COP21), and many leading world sustainability organizations seem to agree: we need go further — and faster.

The Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), a unique multi-stakeholder partnership backed by the United Nations and World Bank, urged governments, businesses and financial institutions to act much faster and go much further.

Finding cleaner ways to produce energy — responsible for 60 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions — and more efficient ways to distribute and use it, is central to the fight against climate change, says the group.

Targeted energy efficiency measures, often referred to as the ‘hidden fuel’, have the potential to contribute up to half the savings in greenhouse gas emissions needed to keep the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, while also promoting energy access, productivity and job creation.

“This is the tip of the iceberg. The potential is vast — but it won’t be realized without a massive scaling up of this kind of action to levels far beyond what we have seen so far,” said Rachel Kyte, incoming SE4All CEO and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.

She sees an “historic window of opportunity to shake up business-as-usual. But she added, “Unless we grab that opportunity, the window will quickly close.”

A step-change in financing will be crucial. SE4All’s Global Tracking Framework 2015 estimates that investment in sustainable energy will need to triple from current levels, to more than one trillion dollars a year from now to 2030.

Action is coalescing on several fronts to bridge this investment gap. For example, some 140 banks and institutional investors that manage close to $4 trillion (USD) have recently committed to a major increase in energy efficiency lending and investment.

The public sector is also pledging action. Rallied by partners in SE4All’s six sectoral Energy Efficiency Accelerator initiatives, more than 130 jurisdictions, including over 100 countries plus regional governments and cities, have set ambitious energy efficiency targets, and committed to preparing roadmaps and investment action plans to reach them.


More and more, travelers are choosing alternative accommodations, like those provided by Airbnb, to save money and perhaps have a more unique experience. Home sharing has an additional benefit: in comparison to traditional accommodations, it can significantly reduce energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation.

To further leverage these energy savings, residential solar company NRG Home Solar, and Airbnb, a community-driven hospitality company, are combining forces to increase the adoption of solar. The companies announced they will provide incentives to existing and new members of the Airbnb community to further increase the savings from going solar, as well as travel credits.

The program launched in California and New York on December 1 and is expected to expand to other states in the coming months. Current Airbnb hosts who go solar with NRG Home Solar will receive a rebate on their solar lease. Homeowners who both go solar and become new Airbnb hosts for travelers will receive the lease rebate as well as a travel credit from Airbnb to use on its platform.

“There is a natural connection between home sharing and using your home to generate energy for your community,” said Joe Gebbia, co-founder and chief product officer of Airbnb. “This partnership is a win, win, win: it will allow hosts to generate supplemental income, reduce the carbon footprint for homeowners and provide travelers with a lodging option that is even more sustainable.”


A new LED “as-a-service” partnership seeks to eliminate up-front costs for energy efficient lighting solutions, simplifying the retrofit process for customers like universities, retail, restaurants, hospitals, multi-tenant buildings and municipalities.

Green Lumens is now offering “lighting as-a-service” in a national partnership with financing company SparkFund.

The Green Lumens-SparkFund partnership will debut with a LED retrofit project at Perimeter Place, a multi-tenant office complex in suburban Atlanta. The six-figure high-efficiency LED light retrofit will be funded with a “bumper to bumper” service plan including a 60-month operating lease with no money down. The complex is expected to save $61,923 annually while preventing 11,100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Perimeter Place expects to achieve a net positive cash flow of nearly $2,000 each month through the project from day one.

“This unique ‘as a service’ financing model allows our clients to upgrade their facilities, reduce their operating expenses and lower their carbon footprint, which in most cases are paid for from the operating savings generated from the retrofit,” said Lonnie Chenkin, Green Lumens executive vice president of business development. Projects will be installed and operated by Green Lumens and owned and funded by SparkFund.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates private-sector entities could invest over $279 billion in efficiency technologies across the buildings sector. Efficient commercial lighting improvements could reduce total U.S. electricity use 1.3 percent by 2030. The U.S. Department of Energy expects LEDs will grow from 8 percent of commercial sector and 3 percent of industrial sector sales in 2015 to 82 percent and 87 percent of 2030 sales respectively.


PowerSecure International has acquired ESCO Energy Services (ESCO), a private company based in Lenox, Mass. that provides lighting retrofit solutions for large energy services companies and commercial and industrial, institutional, utility and municipal customers across North America.

The company provides full turnkey energy efficiency services including energy audits, engineering and design, materials procurement, project management, implementation and verification. Since its inception in 1992, ESCO has delivered more than 300 million square feet of lighting upgrades.

PowerSecure paid approximately $1.8 million in total consideration, including cash and promissory notes. ESCO could also receive earn-out payments through 2018 if it exceeds certain contracted sales targets that would reflect meaningful growth. ESCO currently has $0.7 million in contracted backlog and is actively pursuing a large pipeline of potential opportunities.


Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) is partnering with energy efficiency and renewable energy company Ameresco on $14.8 million ESPC to improve buildings and increase operational efficiency. This newly announced ESPC is a second-round contract with Ameresco.

The project includes upgrades to 50 buildings comprised of approximately 4.3 million square feet. Some of the energy efficiency measures include: updated exterior lighting systems, LED technology and controls; energy management systems  upgrades; bi-polar ionization and demand control ventilation; building envelope improvements; domestic water conservation; HVAC system renovations; boiler and chiller replacements; and other stringent energy control measures. At Riverside and Sedgefield Elementary Schools, the heating, ventilation and cooling systems will be completely replaced and upgraded to a high efficiency water source heat pump system to provide both heating and cooling. Deer Park Elementary School will benefit from a complete boiler plant renovation.

“Our contract with Ameresco allows us to replace our aging infrastructure, upgrade our buildings and make improvements, during a time when the school division’s capital improvement funding is flat. The project includes efficiency measures that will deliver $1,048,853 in annual energy savings, benefiting the schools and local community for years to come,” said Keith Webb, Executive Director of Plant Services, NNPS.

The environmental benefits from this project include the reduction of more than 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to eliminating 878 passenger vehicles from the road annually, saving enough electricity to power 668 homes each year, or the equivalent of planting 1090 acres of pine forest annually, according to Ameresco.


About the Author

Cara Goman