E Source Blog
Welcome to the E Source Blog! Our staff will share insights and observations about life at E Source, our events, our research, and other fun stuff.
As a researcher at E Source, I was recently asked to examine how demand-side management (DSM) programs can be adjusted to better serve residents and business owners impacted by a major natural disaster. Not surprisingly, the impetus for this inquiry was Hurricane Sandy. Though an undeniable tragedy—the superstorm damaged nearly 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey alone—disasters like Sandy do open the proverbial “window” on opportunities to rebuild or renovate damaged homes and businesses to be more efficient than their predecessors. Rebuilding efficiently helps households and businesses reap the benefits of energy savings, increased property values, and improved comfort, while advancing the overall goals of a more sustainable community. And utilities that are prepared to adjust or implement DSM programs in the wake of a disaster provide a valuable service above and beyond power restoration.
So I reached out to a few utilities that have experienced local and regional destruction caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods to identify some best practices for energy-efficiency disaster relief. We’ve compiled the following near-term ...
For this year’s E Source Forum, the E Source Green Team designed a transportation challenge for employees traveling to Denver for the event. Because our office is located in Boulder, most E Sourcers live closer to Boulder than Denver. Our inaugural transportation challenge was implemented to reduce the number of miles driven by our employees to attend Forum each day.
Challenge participants were awarded points based on their mode of transportation, and the point-scale was heavily weighted toward public transportation, carpooling, and alternative-fuel vehicles. I’m proud to say that overall the transportation challenge was very successful. We had 36 participants (almost half the company) with the following results:
- 2,067 driven miles avoided
- 1,777 pounds of carbon dioxide avoided (equivalent to planting 25 trees)
- $2,200 in avoided costs for E Source
I can’t begin to express how awesome these results are. For 36 people in five business days to eliminate more than 2,000 miles driven is incredible! We didn’t know what to expect when we came up with this idea, but I know ...
I would say that the thing that makes Laura such an exceptional graphic designer is not only her ability to be incredibly creative, but also her unfaltering “can-do” spirit. We take attitude pretty seriously at E Source, and she really exemplifies why we value the can-do trait so much. She takes on the bulk of the graphic design work here, but despite her massive work load, you’ll never find her without a smile on her face, and you’ll never hear her say that something is impossible. Her energy level doesn’t stop once she leaves the office—she even makes her own lip balm at home!
Hometown: Grinnell, Iowa
What you do at E Source: I do graphic design, working on marketing flyers, event collateral, and report graphics.
Why you like working at E Source: The people and the casual, fun environment.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve designed for E Source: I loved working on the pirate stickers for a Forum networking event two years ago. It’s always fun to be able to put a pirate treasure map in your portfolio!...
Here at E Source, we’re really excited about all of the energy-efficiency improvements that will be part of our new office, but not all of them were our doing. Many of them were undertaken by our new landlord, who was guided in doing so by the city of Boulder’s green energy building standards. Municipal building standards help to align the interests of building occupants and owners, given that both parties often find it difficult to agree on making efficiency upgrades without such guidance. With these standards in place, we had a great base to work from in making further improvements that went above and beyond the already rigorous city requirements for building owners.
The energy-efficiency requirements for commercial buildings in Boulder stipulate that remodeling projects, like the new E Source office space, must result in a building that is 30 percent more energy efficient (PDF) than the ASHRAE 90.1 guidelines. The ASHRAE standard was originally established in 1975 and has been updated several times since. In order to meet these guidelines, we worked with the owner’s design team, which ran several simulation models in a computer program called ...
To learn how to capture the maximum possible savings when crafting a demand-side management program, our utility customers frequently ask us what the penetration rates are for particular technologies. In fact, during my years as a researcher at E Source, it was likely the type of question that I answered most often for our members. Because maximum savings can be achieved with technologies that have a low adoption rate, it makes a lot of sense to recommend or incentivize technologies for which adoption rates are slow in high-efficiency models.
In an effort to advance the rapid dissemination of this kind of information, Energy Star maintains really cool annual fact sheets on exactly this type of data. Here’s data from the most recent 2011 market penetration study.
Check out the Energy Star Unit Shipment and Market Penetration Report (PDF) for additional information with a much more granular breakdown of the technologies, along with numbers of units shipped and the state of specification revisions.
And to give greater context to the Energy Star program and the latest developmemnts in appliance efficiency standards, be sure to read the ...
It’s been a good three days in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the 2012 Energy Star Products Partner Meeting, even though I haven’t seen the sun since I left beautiful Colorado. It was nice to see some familiar E Source member faces and to meet some bright new people. As I pass the time in the airport, I want to share my final thoughts while they’re still fresh.
Today started fast with a fabulous breakout session by Chris Badger of the Vermont Energy Investment Corp. and Christopher Wold of the Collaborative Labeling & Appliance Standards Program (CLASP), on behalf of the Super Efficient Dryer Initiative (SEDI) (PDF). (Can you tell I just came from a conference sponsored by a U.S. federal government program?) The topic: heat pump clothes dryers. If this is a new technology to you, fret not; we’re currently working on a report covering this technology and it’ll be published soon. However, I can share that this technology saves a great deal more energy than traditional resistance dryers, but there are some significant barriers to seeing them in the U.S. market (an optimistic outlook is fall 2013).
The breakout session this morning ...
I’m attending the 2012 Energy Star Products Partner Meeting this week in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I’ll be providing updates along the way. Monday’s sessions were all about lighting, and while I found each one enlightening (pun intended), one stood out as the brightest (okay, this is getting punbelievable).
The Dimming Performance: Pathway Towards Solutions session was all about the lack of standards for dimmable bulbs, particularly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Anyone in our industry knows about the potential of LEDs—not just from an efficiency standpoint, but also from a controls and capabilities standpoint. Lighting designers lick their creative chops when they start thinking about LEDs and tinkering with lumens, color temperatures, and directions. But as I heard throughout the day, for every technical capability that LEDs offer, they seem to introduce even more challenges. And dimming is apparently no different.
The main theme for the dimming session revolved around the fact that Energy Star has no specification for dimmable products. That is, there’s no definition of what “dimmable” ...
Early next year, we at E Source will be packing up our computers, papers, and furniture and moving to a new office building about 20 blocks west of where we are right now. We’re plenty comfortable in our current building. It has nice mountain views, lots of space, and good access to Boulder’s extensive network of bike paths. We’re not leaving our building because we’ve outgrown it in any significant way. Instead, we’re leaving for two reasons: So we can live in a space that’s consistent with our corporate mission, and to improve conditions for most of our employees.
At E Source, our mission is to advance the efficient and environmentally sound use and provision of energy. Yet, for many years, we’ve worked out of office buildings that featured mediocre energy performance. We moved into our current building six years ago, just after E Source’s management team purchased the company. At that time, we didn’t have the resources to be choosy when it came to office space, and we weren’t. Our current home was built in 1995 and incorporates materials and equipment typical of that time—fluorescent lighting, ...