Programs and Efforts in Promoting Energy Efficiency

CHERP (Community Home Energy Retrofit Program) and HERO (Home Energy Retrofit Opportunity) are ongoing programs that are working with cities to improve energy efficiencies in buildings.  Both programs share many similarities but still have many distinct differences in their approach. CHERP unlike many programs stem from the efforts of the community, without the willingness of volunteers and community groups CHERP would lose the main component of its operation.

HERO similar to CHERP also works closely with cities but it differs in that it does not include the community, instead it works with municipalities to finance projects for homeowners.

Rebates and Financing

CHERP does not offer direct rebates or financing for retrofit projects. It does however act as a resource to connect homeowners to rebates and financing offered from sources such as utility agencies, state and federal organization. In California the main organization that issues out rebates and financing is Energy Upgrade California.

Unlike CHERP, HERO’s main quality is its financing program. In order for HER) to come to a city the local government must first approve and sponsor the program. Homeowners then finance their home project through Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. This means of financing allows homeowners to pay for upfront cost by paying for it through their property tax.  Through this method homeowners can increase their property value and gain the benefits of reduced energy bills once the project is completed. Meaning that even with the increase in property tax home owners can still have a net gain.

Engagement

The wonderful thing about the CHERP program is in its community engagement. A major barrier currently is the poor flow of information from agencies to homeowners. Most people are simply unware of the many rebates and programs that the utility and governmental agencies offer.  The General public is also very wary of making changes to their homes. CHERP acknowledges this barrier and in doing so their model is based off of engagement and education.  It is very evident from their website that their efforts build trust within the community. Their website offers many testimonies and their plans are all very transparent and straight forward.

   Rebates and Financing Engagement Website Measurement Awards
CHERP Energy Upgrade California Volunteer based. Works with city and community Lack of data Base Has a goal for particular cities to retrofit certain amount of homes Top Energy Champion
HERO Financing through mortgage and property tax adjustment Works with municipalities Contractor data base and product data base more extensive Does not have specific indicators for cities Cool Planet Award

Resource Conservation: Water

All over the world resource conservation is becoming increasingly more crucial to our environment due to climate change. Water especially has become one of the primary focuses especially for those living in a Mediterranean climate which means there is little to no rainfall such as Southern California, Claremont included. Claremont has already taken many extensive measures to adapt for the California Drought. Through regulatory ordinances such as the Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (WELO) and prohibiting water usage between the hours of nine in the morning till five in the afternoon Claremont is taking action to save water. However, looking at the most current Claremont Sustainable Report Card, the city has not reached their goal of water usage but has over consumed a great deal more shown in the graph below:

Rain Barrel Demo

Rain Barrel Collection System, Canada

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Claremont Water Consumption 2013

Currently Claremont receives their water from a private entity known as Golden State Water Company. Golden State Water Company has almost doubled the water rates for residents over the last five years despite Claremont’s actions and initiatives to reduce consumption. In basic terms, Claremont residents have been conserving a good amount considering climate conditions but Golden State Water Company has not sought to reduce their water rates. This is problematic because it does not incentivize residents, businesses, and institutional uses to conserve. As far as rebates are concerned, everyone in the Metropolitan Water District’s client scope receives the same rebates for the most part through the SoCal Water Smart program.

In Kingston, Canada they are going through various programs similar to the United States to save one of their most precious resources, water. One program in particular that Claremont does not have, nor does the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California region offers, is rain barrels. Rain barrels are a great way to store rain water and they offer numerous benefits. Benefits include conserving energy that would take to transport and treat the water, reducing the volume of water that the City must provide infrastructure for, and the greatest thing is that it saves money while lowering your water consumption. The rain barrels only cost forty-two dollars and are super customer friendly. To top it all off, these rain barrels have a capacity of almost 55 gallons which can be used for landscape irrigation among other uses.

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Denver Campaign to Save Water

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“Use Only What You Need”

Another case study for extreme water conservation is in Denver, Colorado. Denver began a program in 2006 known as the “Use Only What You Need” Campaign. This program speaks for it and uses a type of public shaming to educate and inform residents of their wasteful water usage. Particularly for outdoor landscape irrigation, the water company focused to crack down on watering turf.

In 2006, Denver set the goal to reduce water consumption by twenty-two percent by 2016. In 2011, the city reduced their consumption by twenty percent already. Among other programs included, the estimated cost of water conservation was almost about nine hundred thousand dollars. However, this included incentives and rebates that were given to water customers to remove their wasteful turfs, replace toilets, use different shower heads, and rainwater collection

What can we do about waste?

Several cities throughout the Country have started the Zero Waste System initiative, which has significantly benefited their cities. The system calls for several different steps and procedures in order to make the change. The EPA and other environmental groups have strongly supported zero waste, due to the extraordinary results that have prevailed. Cities are getting the job done largely by having citizens and businesses sort trash more carefully, and to recycle as much as possible. In a regenerative and sustainable system, such as Zero Waste, Waste=Food. This means that all products are able to be fully recycled, composted, or reused in order to to have Zero Waste. Some cities are creating subsidies and/or financial incentives in order to get started on the shift towards Zero Waste. The system starts out with incentives and other regulations (rules) in order to get the process started. By making changes to where tax payer money goes, designing buildings and products more efficiently, using clean production methods, changing distribution and consumer practices, reducing consumption of materials, and ultimately using all of these practices to create a sustainable economy where their are jobs protecting and helping the environment.

A city locally that has benefitted extremely by the Zero Waste ideal is San Francisco. According to the city, Zero Waste is “sending nothing to landfill or incineration. We create policies that reduce waste, and increase access to recycling and composting. SF Environment is doing everything we can to make it happen.” The city began implementing policies that required stores to use compostable and reusable bags ONLY. This alone made a huge impact on their waste diversion rate. However, the city has continued to make the change by increasing recycling, changing requirements for business, and composting. In 2010, the city/county exceeded their goal to divert 75 percent of materials away from landfill. Currently at a 80% diversion rate, San Francisco sees 90% diversion of waste if what is sent to landfills was properly sorted and composted; leaving only 10% of waste going to landfills. The city has saved money, conserved natural resources, and protected out climate through policies and regulations set in order to achieve Zero Waste. Los Angeles, a very difficult city to maintain, has started to make a change like this, and has already been successful increasing recycling in the city, and composting about two-thirds of its waste. Seattle has also shown that Zero Waste is extremely beneficial, and continues to grow and make changes in order to become sustainable.

The Zero Waste System would be something for the city of Claremont to consider, in order to reduce their waste sent out to landfills.The cities are getting the job done largely by having citizens and businesses sort trash more carefully, and to recycle as much as possible. The local colleges have begun a composting center, and the city has increased recycling possibilities. However, there is so much more the city can do, just by spreading the word, teaching the residents and businesses alternative methods, and regulating and separating what is being sent to landfills.

Resource Conservation 1.1.3

Claremont’s actions for Goal Area 1: Resource Conservation 1.1.3 define that commercial and residential property owners will be informed about best practices for energy & water usage. CHERP seems to have achieved this by providing to residential consumers rebates and retrofits to save homeowners energy and money. However, most homes still use standard energy sources such as electricity and natural gas which still produce greenhouse gases. One thing that I have not seen mentioned is that most SoCal Gas pipelines can run biogas.

Biogas a renewable energy sources according to SoCal gas can be run through existing pipes, but I have not seen any of the case studies homes on the CHERP website have switched over. I am not fully aware to what extent residents are encouraged to speak to a biogas supplier from the SoCal Gas list of suppliers. SoCal Gas specifically can power appliances that use natural gas, and bio-methane can be supplied to many customers of SoCal Gas it is 100% renewable, but at this time it is more expensive than natural gas.

Most of the city initiatives include reduction of use in unsustainable practices. Howeverconservation also may include the abandoned use of non-sustainable resources.  Claremont made great improvements among city use of diesel. In the past they fueled up with almost 57% diesel in 2005. In 2013 that was reduced to 14% and an increased use in compressed natural gas, 54% in 2013.  Energy use goal 1.1.1 is to reduce energy use by 20%, by 2015 which might not be achieved. Its total energy for 2013 only used 13% renewables, but has gone up significantly over the past, 2011-2013.

In contrast, Richmond in California, a green city has developed a program where citizens may get 100% renewable energy. Green Cities California is a coalition of cities who have made significant advances in sustainability and environmental policy. Cities can only be considered green cities if, they have sustainability plan and must be part of the Conference of Mayors Climate protection agreement, these are the prerequisites. Within one year the cities must adopt policies that require city governments to only purchase 100% post- consumer recycled paper and pledge to no longer purchase disposable plastic water bottles. Richmond is highlighted on their website as a best practice in energy. Along with the Marin County Richmond has provided access to its property owner, utilities that are 100% renewable. Through MCE or Marin Clean Energy Richmond is able to provide its residents three different options for renewable energy use. There is the light green which is energy that comes form 50% renewables and a 20% renewable plan provided by Pacific Gas & Electric. The last is deep green which is the 100% renewable resources plan.

Claremont is a much smaller city than Richmond, but many of the MCE energy sources are popping up in different parts of California. Perhaps this can be further explored through CHERP, SoCal Gas Company, and Claremont’s planning department. I am sure Claremont will work hard to achieve its sustainability efforts. These efforts and access to these alternatives will serve as a tool for Claremont to achieve its energy conservation goals.

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Many underdeveloped areas in third world countries rely on animal droppings to provide lighting and heating, for cooking, in homes. This picture is from the worldbank.org. This picture depicts the potential of biogas and methane in the world.