By: Marissa Nixon, Policy & Research Coordinator, NCBPA
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released their 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard on October 5, 2018. The national Scorecard gives an update on state energy efficiency policies and programs that are economically and environmentally favorable. Data on policies and programs are analyzed from six different areas: utilities, buildings, transportation, state government, combined heat and power, and appliance standards.
ACEEE highlights best practices for promoting energy efficiency and offers recommendations on a state by state basis. These recommendations are typically the lowest-cost way to meet customers’ energy needs while promoting improved health and comfort, grid resilience, air and water quality. North Carolina improved its 2017 score by 5 spots, moving from #31 to #26 in the national rankings. This is largely due to improvements in financial incentives and energy use data access in the state.
North Carolina is leading by example in their two highest scoring categories, buildings and state government. Scoring 4.5 out of 8 in the buildings category, ACEEE recognizes North Carolina for requiring all residential and commercial buildings to comply with the 2012 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code (NCECC). The code is based on the 2009 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code), with substantial strengthening amendments, and will be in place through December 31, 2018. On January 1, 2019, the new 2018 NCECC is required, which is based on the 2015 IECC with weakening amendments. ACEEE commends the state for holding numerous energy code training and outreach sessions to increase compliance, as well as making trainings available online. NCBPA is holding 18 residential and commercial energy code training workshops throughout the state in October and November and is working directly with member companies and the NC Department of Insurance to improve the new energy code.
A focus on efficiency within the state government is a big reason for North Carolina’s 3.5 out of 5 score in the state government category. State-owned buildings are required to be designed, constructed and certified to exceed the energy efficiency standards by 20-30% in several areas, such as heating and cooling, and gross consumption per square foot. NCBPA is currently working to raise those reduction standards for state-owned buildings through legislation that extends the state’s energy services performance contracting program and supports the Governor’s Executive Order from last week. The state also requires fleets to meet certain fuel economy standards. Additionally, information on financial incentives for energy efficiency projects throughout the state can be found on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), maintained by NC Clean Energy Technology Center.
North Carolina scored 1.5 out of 4, 3 out of 20, and 3.5 out of 10 for CHP, utilities, and transportation, respectively. ACEEE recommended increasing financial incentives and rebates for CHP projects, as well as projects utilizing energy efficient utilities. Additionally, ACEEE recommended developing programs designed to help low income areas increase their efficiency in these three areas through financial incentives and access to data/education.
ACEEE recommends that North Carolina adopt energy efficient appliance standards above the federal minimum to improve its 0 out of 3 score in the utilities category.
North Carolina was also recognized for the SystemVision™ Energy Guarantee Program, which is run by a partnership of Advanced Energy and North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA). SystemVision™ is an affordable housing program that encourages high energy efficiency standards during construction of affordable housing. For projects that follow the SystemVision™ energy efficiency guidelines, NCHFA provides $4,000 in construction subsidies and Advances Energy provides a two-year heating and cooling bill guarantee. The program has guaranteed more than 5,100 affordable homes since its inception.
ACEEE encourages the utilization of financial incentives such as this as they tend to lower up-front costs, shorten the payback period for energy efficiency upgrades, and raise consumer awareness of eligible products. Financial incentives such as the ones offered by Advanced Energy and NCHFA encouraging manufacturers and retailers to market these products more actively and to continue to innovate. ACEEE sites North Carolina as a model for this type of program in their 2018 scorecard report.
As detailed in NCBPA’s 2018 North Carolina Energy Efficiency Potential Report released in September, North Carolina has tremendous potential to continue to rise in the ranks of the most energy efficient states. Through outreach, trainings and policy updates, NCBPA is continuing to work towards a more energy efficient North Carolina.
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