The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its annual 50-state Energy Efficiency Scorecard on October 20.

The ACCEE ranking covers all 50 states, with special attention paid to the top 10 states, the 10 states most in need of improvement and the five states showing the biggest positive movement.

This year, the biggest advancement came from states one might not necessarily associate with strong energy-efficiency policy, such as Nebraska (up seven places to No. 40), Alabama (up six places to No. 43) and Tennessee (up five places to No. 30).

Other big climbers this year are Michigan (up 10 places to No. 17–tied with Illinois and Arizona); Illinois (up eight places to No. 17); and Maryland (up six places to No. 10), which joined the ranks of the top 10 states (Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland) for the first time in Scorecard history.

“This mix of states from different geographic regions and political leanings goes to show that energy efficiency isn’t a Democratic, Republican or Tea Party idea—it’s simply a good idea,” reported ACEEE executive Stephen Nadel in his blog.

WSP Flack + Kurtz Completes First Phase of Energy Efficiency Program at Kennedy Center

Phase one of a five-year sustainability program to reduce energy consumption and boost operational efficiency has been completed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, says Christian Agulles, PE, LEED AP, managing director of the Washington, D.C. office of international engineering firm WSP Flack + Kurtz, the project designer. The work is slated for completion in 2014.

Through a five-year indefinite quantity contract, the first phase of which began in 2009, WSP Flack + Kurtz is providing mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services and retro-commissioning for the 1.8-million-sq.-ft. facility, which includes seven theaters, two restaurants, nine special function rooms and five public assembly areas.

This new phase includes reconfiguration and optimization of central cooling plant operation and heating/hot water pumping system, replacement of multi-zone air handling units with new variable air volume systems, retrofitting of high-percentage outside air systems with demand ventilation control, upgrades of lighting control systems and installation of daylighting controls.

“All of these measures advance The Kennedy Center toward its sustainability goals, which are ambitious for an existing building and which meet the highest standards of energy efficiency,” Agulles said in a statement. “They will also improve occupant comfort, indoor air quality and equipment maintainability within the facility."

GTI, Solar Usage Now to Install Hybrid Solar-Natural Gas Water Heating System

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and Solar Usage Now installed their first commercial application of SUN Equinox, a new hybrid solar thermal-natural gas water heating system.

As part of a Mecklenburg County, N.C. initiative to improve the environmental sustainability of its facilities, the project team recently installed demonstration equipment at the Samuel Billings Center, a county-owned building in Charlotte, N.C.

The project is part of an initiative that began in 2009 at GTI, a nonprofit energy research, development and training organization. Originally designed for residential use, the system is also an efficient hot water delivery system for commercial and industrial applications up to 195°F.

The installation at the Billings Center includes two 132-gallon tanks and five solar collectors.

The demonstration site is located in the territory of Piedmont Natural Gas, a local distribution company that serves more than one million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The project has received additional sponsorship from other utilities that are members of Utilization Technology Development, a research and development collaborative to enhance the use, reliability, efficiency, and environmental attributes of natural gas appliances and technologies. It has also benefited from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds supplied by Mecklenburg County.

CBRE Solar/Smart Energy Team Welcomes Two New Employees

CBRE Group, Inc. announces that Shilpa Shah and Dorothy Sosnowski have joined CBRE Solar and Smart Energy Capital LLC team in Portland, Ore.

The CBRE Solar and Smart Energy Capital LLC team helps commercial and government clients save money on energy costs by providing 100 percent-financed and managed on-site solar power systems. Last June, the group expanded services to real estate investors and property owners to help them develop large-scale solar projects that can sell power to utilities. The group serves clients around the country.

Shilpa Shah joined the group as a director of project development, focusing on development and financing of utility-scale solar-power projects across the U.S. Previously, she was with Fotowatio, where she helped secure power contracts representing more than $150 million in project investments. Shah earned her undergraduate degree from MIT and her Master’s in Energy Finance from Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.

Dorothy Sosnowski joins the team after 10 years at Portland General Electric, most recently leading PGE’s development of some of the largest net-metered and utility-scale solar projects in Oregon. She will focus on utility-scale solar development within the group. Sosnowski earned her undergraduate degree from Tulane University and MBA in Finance and General Management from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Appraisal Institute Supports Green Real Estate Bill

The Appraisal Institute has expressed its backing of the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act of 2011, recently introduced federal legislation that would improve the mortgage underwriting process by ensuring energy costs are included.

“We strongly support the SAVE Act because it will improve communication and the flow of information among appraisers, lender clients and those interacting with the mortgage lending process,” Appraisal Institute President Leslie Sellers said in a statement. “It would require use of qualified, competent appraisers and would help ensure that appraisers have access to data needed to analyze the effects of energy-efficient home improvements in the marketplace. Consumers would benefit from the bill’s efforts to help ensure they receive a reliable, credible opinion of value.”

The SAVE Act would instruct federal loan agencies to assess a borrower’s expected energy costs when financing a house. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would issue updated underwriting and appraisal guidelines for any loan issued, insured, purchased or securitized by the Federal Housing Administration or any other federal mortgage loan insurance agency.

The bill establishes two methods for determining expected annual energy costs: average utility costs, derived from the Department of Energy’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey database and adjusted for the square footage of the home; or if available, a qualified, independent energy report of the subject property. The measure includes two primary features: an affordability test and a loan-to-value adjustment.

Sellers said the SAVE Act would help protect taxpayers from another foreclosure crisis, lower utility bills for U.S. households, remove from federal mortgage policy an impediment to home energy efficiency, drive business and job growth in the construction and manufacturing sectors, expand the accessibility and affordability of energy efficient homes and reduce U.S. energy dependence.

In addition to the Appraisal Institute, organizations supporting the SAVE Act include: Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Building Energy Efficient Codes Network, Center for American Progress, E2 Environment Entrepreneurs, Earth Advantage Institute, EcoBroker, Efficiency First, Global Green USA, Green Builder Coalition, Institute for Market Transformation, International Code Council, Leading Builders of America, National Association of State Energy Officials, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Residential Energy Services Network, Inc., Structural Insulated Panel Association and U.S. Green Building Council.