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“Don’t Leave Climate Change to a Partisan Congress”

August 8, 2013

Read Retrofit America CEO Geoff Berlin’s letter-to-the-editor in The New York Times:

Re “A Republican Case for Climate Action,” by William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman (Op-Ed, Aug. 2):

“Americans don’t need to wait for partisan consensus to start ‘dealing’ with climate change. They can start by taking action in their own homes….”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/opinion/dont-leave-climate-change-to-a-partisan-congress.html

Home Retrofits Achieve 40% Savings on Heating and Cooling

August 8, 2013

Retrofit America’s Atlanta customers are achieving average energy savings on heating and cooling of 40% – with nearly everyone in the range of 30% to 55% savings.

How do we measure these savings? Based on actual utility bills, we estimate the home’s energy consumption before and after the home retrofit in BTU per square foot per degree-day (BTU/SqFt-DD) – that’s the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool one square foot of the home by one degree Fahrenheit over 24 hours.

As a benchmark, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory considers an energy-efficient home to consume 5.0 BTU/SqFt-DD for heating and cooling.

Here is how the results line up for a sampling of 14 homes that we retrofit from 2010 to 2012 in the Atlanta metro area, for customers who provided us with access to their utility bill data post-retrofit:
RFA table
What did these homeowners do to achieve these savings?

Their homes now have adequate insulation in their attics and basements or crawlspaces, duct work that is properly sealed and lower overall air leakage. Some also include HVAC upgrades to more efficient equipment.

Based on these customers’ pre-retrofit electricity and natural gas prices that they were paying before we implemented their home retrofits, their average savings is $580 a year. They also benefit from improvements in the health and comfort of living in their homes – no more drafty rooms, cold floors, musty odors and air from attics and crawlspace.

How would these improvements impact America’s energy consumption and carbon emissions if homeowners across the country were to make their homes energy efficient?

Scales

What weighs more? A home’s excess emissions for heating and cooling over a year, or a Toyota Prius?

21% of U.S. energy consumption and 22% of carbon dioxide emissions are from heating, cooling and powering our homes. Based on data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Energy, Retrofit America estimates that the average single-family home emits 4,250 kilograms of CO2 a year from heating and cooling. Making a home energy efficient and reducing this energy use by 40% in turn reduces a home’s CO2 emissions by an average of 1,700 kilograms a year.

Is that a lot of carbon dioxide? Imagine collecting all of a home’s excess CO2 emissions in a box. After a year, that box would weigh more than a Prius!

Cleantech Open Southeast Region Announces 24 Business Accelerator Semi-Finalists

June 5, 2013

The Cleantech Open Southeast Region has selected Retrofit America as one of 24 semi-finalists to participate at the regional level in the 2013 Cleantech Open national accelerator program.

Semi-finalists concentrate on innovation across the following technology categories Agriculture, Water, & Waste; Chemicals & Advanced Materials; Energy Distribution and Storage; Energy Efficiency; Energy Generation; Green Building; and Information Technology & Communications. “Our region continues to enjoy strong growth thanks to expanded metro areas that reach entrepreneurs across multiple and diverse technology hubs,” said Joshua C. Greene, regional director and co-founder of the Cleantech Open Southeast.

Read more: http://cleantechopen-southeast.org/2013/06/cleantech-open-southeast-region-announces-24-business-accelerator-semi-finalists/

National Security and Climate Change

May 30, 2013

logoBy Geoffrey Berlin | Thursday, May 30, 2013

If the American public still doesn’t take seriously the need for climate change action on environmental or moral grounds, is it time to bring in the big guns? U.S. military brass and intelligence community leaders see global warming as a threat to national security and global stability. [Retrofit America CEO] Geoffrey Berlin argues this might be the reframing the discussion needs.

“Over 20% of U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are from heating, cooling and powering our homes. Sit down with a homeowner to present the results of a home energy audit and, of course, saving money and improving comfort will resonate. However, the mere mention of reducing the home’s carbon footprint will more than likely politicize the discussion.”

Read more:
http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=10011

Retrofit America Addresses Georgia Appraisers Coalition

April 25, 2013

Retrofit America CEO Geoff Berlin addressed the Atlanta chapter meeting of the Georgia Appraisers Coalition today.

“Our post-retrofit analysis of our customers’ utility bills shows that we’re saving them an average of 40% on heating and cooling,” Geoff says. “And we’re making their homes perfectly comfortable to live in.”

At a national level, the Appraisal Institute is taking some key initiatives to ensure that home values include this impact from home efficiency improvements:

1. AI is building its database of green features and energy efficient items to compare their impact on a home’s resale value through its Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum.

2. AI has recommended the Federal Housing Finance Agency to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to amend its seller/servicer guidelines to specifically allow for the use of established methods using an Income Capitalization Approach to account for energy efficiency improvements in home valuations.

3. AI has endorsed the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act, which is proposed federal legislation, introduced by Senators Bennet (D-Co.) and Isakson (R-Ga.), that would instruct federal loan agencies to assess a borrower’s expected energy costs when financing a house.

“Through these initiatives,” Geoff says, “the Appraisal Institute is helping to ensure that homebuyers will be aware of energy efficiency improvements that have been implemented, and that appraisers will be able to factor these improvements into their home appraisal values.”

Can Keystone XL Befriend the Environment?

April 22, 2013

logoBy Geoffrey Berlin | Monday, April 22, 2013

“The Obama Administration is weighing a much-debated permit application for an oil pipeline from Canada into the United States. Advocates say the project will bring jobs and security. Opponents say it’s a climate disaster. [Retrofit America CEO] Geoffrey Berlin offers a potential compromise.”

Could crude production from Alberta’s oil sands fund an offset program to reduce carbon emissions by making homes energy efficient?

Read more:
http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=9970

Keystone pipeline pits oil against environment: Your Say

February 22, 2013

Could there be linkage between the Keystone XL pipeline and making America’s homes energy efficient?

Read Retrofit America CEO Geoff Berlin’s letter-to-the-editor in USA TODAY (click link and scroll down):
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/02/20/keystone-pipeline-oil-environment/1934351/

“Keystone XL does not have to be an either-or decision. It is a perfect opportunity to offset carbon emissions from Canada’s tar-sand oil production with investments in sectors where emission reductions could be achieved. For example, curb energy demand by making buildings more efficient….”