Overview of the Compact of Mayors

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Overview of the Compact of Mayors

Our previous blog on the Compact of Mayors sparked great conversations regarding what the Compact specifically entails and many of our municipal clients are curious to learn more. Building off these conversations, please read below to learn more about this commitment, what it will mean for your community, and the benefits of emissions tracking and climate action planning.

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I joined a community solar program, now what?

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I joined a community solar program, now what?

So you have signed a contract to receive power from a community solar program. Congratulations! This decision has great benefits for the environment and your wallet. Now it is time to take a closer look at your monthly electric bill to make sure that you’re maximizing your benefits.

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AN OVERVIEW OF ENERGY OUTREACH COLORADO: A CONVERSATION WITH ANDY CALER

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AN OVERVIEW OF ENERGY OUTREACH COLORADO: A CONVERSATION WITH ANDY CALER

Environmental justice issues are a growing concern for many of our clients. Thankfully, Colorado has many organizations helping our low-income communities through research and education and direct action such as subsidies and assistance. We asked Andy Caler from Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC) to tell us more about EOC’s work and environmental justice in Colorado.

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Finding Regional Consistency in GHG Accounting: The Compact of Mayors Agreement and the GPC

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Finding Regional Consistency in GHG Accounting: The Compact of Mayors Agreement and the GPC

Many of our municipal and county clients ask us to help them identify a community greenhouse (GHG) accounting approach that aligns with their peers and avoids double counting. Although there are a lot of resources, finding the right one can be tricky. Recently, a team of world leaders and international sustainability organizations got together to tackle this very problem. Drawing on extensive expertise in sustainability for local governments, the team formed the Compact of Mayors (Compact) agreement. 

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An Overview of Colorado C-PACE: A Conversation with Paul Scharfenberger

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An Overview of Colorado C-PACE: A Conversation with Paul Scharfenberger

Last week, Lotus was fortunate to speak with Paul Scharfenberger, the Director of Finance and Operations at the Colorado Energy Office, about the new financing tool being rolled out called Colorado’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (“Colorado C-PACE”).  C-PACE financing is an innovative, yet proven, financing mechanism for commercial, agricultural, institutional, industrial, non-profit and multifamily (residential units with 4 or less units are excluded) properties to obtain low-cost, long-term financing (up to 20 years) for renewable energy, energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades.

Since many of our clients are interested in C-PACE, we were thrilled to ask him a few questions

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LOW-INCOME SOLAR SUCCESS STORIES

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LOW-INCOME SOLAR SUCCESS STORIES

Improving the accessibility and uptake of community solar to low-income households is limited by a variety of marketing and communication, demographic, programmatic, and financial challenges. Fortunately, public and private entities are actively trying to solve this issue. So where have we seen some successes ?

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Finding Money

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Finding Money

Many sustainability professionals have experienced the frustration of not being able to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades for the sole reason that they are not able to pay for it. Even if the return-on-investment is great, the cost of delaying the upgrade is high, and there is staff buy-in sometimes upgrades simply do not fit within the budget. However, the world of energy efficiency and renewable energy financing has matured considerably over the last ten years enabling many public and private sector entities to implement upgrades that would have previously not been feasible

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The Power of Municipalities

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The Power of Municipalities

Over the last 10+ years, we have worked with dozens of municipalities throughout the US on their sustainability initiatives. What are cities doing to address their impact? Everything! From studying their greenhouse gas emissions to setting reduction targets to implementing water and energy efficiency improvements to increasing renewable energy usage to increasing public transit, cities are reducing their impact. An impact that is being amplified as urbanization increases rapidly throughout the US and world.

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Achieving Substantial Sustainability Goals: You might be doing better than you think

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Achieving Substantial Sustainability Goals: You might be doing better than you think

By Hillary Dobos and Emily Artale

Many sustainability professionals have inherited far-reaching sustainability goals that they did not create or they have aligned their goals to meet national goals such as the Better Buildings Challenge with little understanding of how to actually achieve their goals. This can pose an intimidating proposition that can result in entities giving up on their goals because they are seen as impossible to achieve. However, before giving up on goals or setting less lofty new ones know that there are many external trends that are already helping you and you might be doing better than you think. 

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Selling Sustainability

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Selling Sustainability

By Emily Artale and Hillary Dobos

There are skeptics everywhere. How do we, as energy and sustainability professionals, convince them that pursuing sustainability is not only the right thing to do, but it can also be profitable?

One approach has been to share the dozens of case stories of big businesses and progressive municipalities saving money through sustainability initiatives (think Dow Chemical, Interface, City of Boulder, City of San Francisco, King County, etc…). But, for some reason these stories do not always result in a massive buy-in of sustainability and sometimes you may even lose the attention of your audience.

And why does this happen? Perhaps these stories do not provide a roadmap that is relevant to the values, demographics, location, and other unique factors of the community that you are speaking to. 

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Storytelling with Utility Data

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Storytelling with Utility Data

By Emily Artale and Hillary Dobos

One of the first steps of any successful energy management program should be an analysis and review of your building’s utility data. This is one way in which your building tells a story of its performance. We, as Energy Managers, use this story to verify personal narratives of your building’s operation, evaluate opportunities for improvement, identify patterns and trends of energy consumption, and benchmark against similar facilities. And, sometimes we can use this data to identify immediate solutions for cost savings.

How can such a seemingly simple resource provide so much valuable information? Utility data is objective and accurate; it documents actual consumption values and actual costs with an infallible memory. It can tell us when the building becomes occupied, when the building is reaching its peak demand, and when abnormalities in use and costs occur.

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An Overview of Solar Power Procurement Options

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An Overview of Solar Power Procurement Options

By Hillary Dobos and Emily Artale

Many of our clients have shown interest in pursuing solar energy but are quickly overwhelmed by the myriad of solar power procurement options available to them.  Common questions include:

  • What are all of my options?
  • Should I participate in a solar garden or purchase solar RECs?
  • What is the difference between a solar lease and a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of purchasing the solar panels outright? 

This blog provides a brief overview of some of the options for procuring solar power. As different organizations may have diverse goals for solar procurement, finding the “right” option(s) will also vary. We do not specifically endorse any one method over the other, but rather provide some basic information to answer some of the most common questions.  

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Question Everything

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Question Everything

By Emily Artale and Hillary Dobos

In the television series, Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains that one reason science works is because science requires that we question everything. And, through this process we uncover the truth. As you embark on new sustainability and energy projects and programs we encourage you to apply this practice in your search for the most effective, economic, and sustainable outcome.

As more and more people demand sustainable solutions, we see an increase in the number of sustainability options offered by a variety of private, government, and non-profit organizations. It can be overwhelming. How do we know what is a legitimate offering and what is too good to be true? Our proposed answer: QUESTION EVERYTHING. And, while you are at it, document everything. 

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Setting Reduction Targets with Limited Information

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Setting Reduction Targets with Limited Information

By Hillary Dobos and Emily Artale

Setting sustainability targets can be one of the most intimidating and invaluable steps in creating a robust sustainability program.  Goals need to be measurable and have real appeal to constituents and decision makers, but most importantly, goals need to be credible.  We define a credible goal as one that can be realized while pushing the organization to make meaningful, aggressive changes where real benefits accumulate.  But, how can an organization identify quantifiable, credible targets with limited information? How can they ensure that their goals are achievable so they do not miss their targets, while ensuring that they are not so easy that they are perceived as pointless?

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Why You Should Never Overlook Qualitative Achievements When Developing Your Sustainability Goals

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Why You Should Never Overlook Qualitative Achievements When Developing Your Sustainability Goals

By Emily Artale and Hillary Dobos

When setting goals that support sustainability initiatives we typically think that our quantitative achievements will be more compelling and more important than our qualitative achievements. Quantitative achievements can be easier to define, easier to communicate and easier to link to dollars spent or dollars saved. This makes their value stand out and makes them the preference of many “goal-setting experts”.

However, environmental and sustainability initiatives and programs are different than most traditional initiatives and programs that you might encounter in your organization. Sustainability programs are still evolving and some of these programs are still new to many public and private organizations. In some instances, we are still learning what is possible and therefore, we do not always have a legacy of projects from which to learn.

In this case, identifying and promoting your qualitative achievements may be just what you need to effectively describe the value of your program or initiative. 

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Renewable Energy Credits (RECS): A Review of the Basics and Questions to Ask Before Utilizing RECs as a Way to Meet Renewable Energy Goals

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Renewable Energy Credits (RECS): A Review of the Basics and Questions to Ask Before Utilizing RECs as a Way to Meet Renewable Energy Goals

By Hillary Dobos and Emily Artale

Renewable Energy Credits (also known as RECs, Renewable Energy Certificates, or greentags) are  becoming an increasingly common way for individuals, households, and organizations to reduce their environmental footprint and help fund renewable energy development.  The following blog provides a brief overview of RECs and a list of questions that can help guide your decision to purchase RECs and guide your discussion with your REC supplier. 

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Increasing Transparency of the Solar Garden Process: The Top 4 Questions You Should Ask When Considering Participation in a Solar Garden

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Increasing Transparency of the Solar Garden Process: The Top 4 Questions You Should Ask When Considering Participation in a Solar Garden

Community solar gardens are an emerging and an innovative approach to acquiring renewable energy. Many of our clients are asking us about the risks and benefits of participation, with an emphasis on understanding potential impacts on their financial bottom line and the ability to meet community sustainability and energy goals. We invite you to read our take on this process and use this information to guide conversations with your solar garden developer or utility company representative.

To learn more or receive an analysis specific to your organization contact us at emily.artale@lotussustainability.com or hillary@merrillgroupllc.com.

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