Initiatives

3 reasons to light the holiday season with LEDs

Image courtesy youngthousands, Flickr.

On a dark winter night, twinkling holiday lights lift our spirits. Over the centuries we have gone from decorating trees with candles (not the best idea) to using electric-powered lights, which were first draped around a tree in 1882 by an inventor who worked for Thomas Edison.

Today, thanks to three Japanese scientists who recently won the Nobel Prize for their development of a blue light-emitting diode (LED), we can move beyond Edison and choose an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly light source, the LED bulb. Although they’ve been on the market for some time, LED lights are now coming down in price, making them an even more attractive option for everyday and holiday lighting.

When decorating this season, keep in mind these three reasons why LEDs are a better way to brighten your holidays.

  1. LEDs are a better choice for your pocketbook. With continued advances in LED technology (especially around heat regulation) by producers like GE and  CREE, the cost of home LED bulbs is now nearing the price of compact fluorescent lights. Since lighting is responsible for 14 percent of a home’s electricity use, more efficient bulbs can reduce home energy bills. If you’re wondering how much you could save by making the switch, check out the CREE LED calculator. When it comes to holiday decorating, LEDs will lead to significant savings over the years. For example, lighting the tree with incandescent lights will cost you around $122 over 10 seasons (including replacement strands), compared to just $33 for a tree adorned with LED lights. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if all decorative strands purchased this year were ENERGY STAR rated, Americans would save $45 million and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 630 million pounds annually.
  1. LEDs are safer sources of light. About 150 house fires a year are caused by decorative lighting, costing almost $9 million in property damage. LEDs are cooler than other bulbs, making them less likely to spark a fire in a dry Christmas tree. And because LEDs draw far fewer kilowatts of energy from the outlet, the risk of electrical fires is reduced. In fact, manufacturer specs allow for connecting up to 25 LED holiday strands in one outlet.
  1.  LEDs are better for the environment. A quarter of the world's electricity is used for lighting, and most of that energy is produced from high-carbon fuels. As demand for energy rises around the globe, more efficient lighting technologies are one strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions. LED bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Moreover, the long life of LEDs – up to 25 years for household bulbs - means less material heads to the landfill.

The long life of LED holiday lights -- up to 10 times longer than regular strands -- means the same strands will be like keepsake ornaments you unpack year after year. It's very likely that the first holiday lights junior recognizes as a toddler will be the exact same lights he comes home to during winter break in college. And family traditions are another way to brighten those long winter nights.

How we engaged employees, strengthened community ties, and made the world a little greener

Nearly 2,000 Alcoa employees, their families, and members of their communities learned how to save energy, save money, and help the environment at green fairs over the past three months.

These fairs, organized by the C2ES Make an Impact program in partnership with Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation, are an example of an evolving approach to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement.

Building awareness of environmental challenges is important, but it isn’t enough. A new approach, bringing together several engagement strategies, aims to build a work force that is both knowledgeable and active in local organizations. The goal is to create stronger relationships among a company, its employees, and community stakeholders, a win-win-win.

Employees, community members and even two mayors came to Alcoa Green Fairs to meet with local businesses and groups providing sustainability solutions. The events took place on weekends or during work breaks in Fullerton and Torrance, Calif.; Hampton, Va.; and Warrick, Ind. Participants could ask questions and get tips about recycling, saving energy and water, and making choices to promote sustainability.

Hands-on activities made it fun. For example, at each fair, we challenged people to see how much physical energy is needed to turn a hand crank (pictured at left) and produce enough power to light an old-fashioned incandescent bulb compared with a modern, efficient compact fluorescent bulb, which requires 75 percent less energy.

The team from Virginia Naturally challenged Hampton fair-goers to guess how long it takes for different types of litter to decompose, driving home the importance of recycling. California employees answered trivia questions from Heal the Bay about storm water management and water conservation.

The fairs informed employees and strengthened Alcoa’s connections to its local communities. More than 50 organizations participated, paving the way for future partnerships and employee volunteer opportunities that will improve the sustainability of each community.

PEV Market Update

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C2ES provides quarterly updates current state of the PEV market, new research, technology, and policies that may affect the future of PEV deployment, and highlights new accomplishments from select awardees from the Clean Cities Electric Vehicle Community Readiness Projects.
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Assessing the Electric Vehicle Charging Network in Washington State

Assessing the Electric Vehicle Charging Network in Washington State

September 2014

by Nick Nigro, Jason Ye, and Matt Frades

Download the full paper (PDF)

The Washington State Legislature is interested in exploring government’s role in fostering new business models that will expand the private sector commercialization of electric vehicle (EV) charging services. This paper provides an assessment of the existing EV publicly available charging network in Washington.

 

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Clean Cities Webinar

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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Nick Nigro and Dan Welch of C2ES will report in the state of the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market.

Nick Nigro and Dan Welch of C2ES will report in the state of the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market.

Moderated by Linda Bluestein, National Clean Cities Co-Director.

This webinar is open to the general public, and no pre-registration is required. To join the webinar:

Visit the Clean Cities webinars page for more details:

 

AFV Finance Initiative Publications

C2ES and its partners have published the follow papers for the AFV Finance Initiative. 

Unlocking Private Sector Financing for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

C2ES, in partnership with National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, began a two-year project in early 2013 to develop innovative finance strategies aimed at accelerating the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure.

Read our white paper on the AFV deployment barriers that private finance can help address

Read our report on the role of the ESCO model in natural gas vehicle fleets

 

Business Models for Financially Sustainable EV Charging Networks

The Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee selected C2ES to develop new business models that will foster private sector commercialization of public EV charging services.

Read our white paper on assessing the EV charging network in Washington state

 

About the AFV Finance Initiative

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Finance (AFV) Initiative brings together key public and private stakeholders to use innovative finance mechanisms to help accelerate the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure. C2ES is working with states around the country to develop new strategies that will improve the business case for AFVs by leveraging small pubic investments or with new business arrangements.

Decreasing the transportation sector’s reliance on petroleum offers important economic, security, and environmental benefits for the United States. The nation’s dependence on foreign oil comes at a high price. In 2012, the U.S. transportation sector consumed 73 percent of the country’s petroleum supplies. Dependence on oil in transportation exposes the United States to price shocks largely beyond its control, since oil is a globally priced commodity. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimate that the total economic loss associated with oil dependence in the United States was $2.1 trillion from 2005 to 2010. These economic losses are due to oil price shocks and oil market influence by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). From an environmental perspective, motor vehicles are also responsible for half of smog-forming air pollutants, about 75 percent of carbon monoxide emissions, and more than 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Most AFVs do not rely on petroleum, are more energy efficient than their conventional counterparts, and have lower or no tailpipe emissions. However, several barriers stand in the way of AFV and infrastructure deployment: market volatility, technological uncertainty, information failures, and regulatory hurdles and uncertainty. These barriers affect each fuel type differently. Recent large investments by the federal government in AFVs and other clean technologies will be winding down in the coming years. New private financing mechanisms are needed to fund these vehicles and associated infrastructure to enable wide-scale adoption.

C2ES is working with states to identify new ways to mobilize this private capital. The Initiative currently consists of two projects defined below

Unlocking Private Sector Financing for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

C2ES, in partnership with National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, began a two-year project in early 2013 to develop new financial tools aimed at accelerating the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure. C2ES has assembled an advisory group of experts on AFVs, infrastructure, and finance from the public and private sectors to help guide its work. The project aims to:

  • Identify barriers that hinder private sector investment;
  • Develop and evaluate innovative financing concepts for vehicle purchase and fueling infrastructure in order to make AFVs more accessible to consumers and fleet operators; and
  • Stimulate private-sector investment in AFVs and the associated infrastructure deployment, building upon and complementing previous public sector investments.

C2ES is researching financial barriers, preparing case studies, and developing strategies that states can consider trying at the project’s conclusion:

The project specifically emphasizes two fuels that offer significant opportunities for growth—electricity and natural gas. Biofuels are not considered because many government and private sector stakeholders are already facilitating the deployment of biofuel-powered vehicles. Vehicles powered by hydrogen are included, but they are not a major focus because hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not yet widely available.

Click here to view publications for this project.

Business Models for Financially Sustainable EV Charging Networks

The Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee selected C2ES to develop new business models that will foster private sector commercialization of public EV charging services. First, C2ES will assess the state of EV charging in Washington and create useful products for the state to perform similar assessments as the market evolves. Second, drawing from its experience with the AFV Finance Initiative and similar activities, C2ES will identify and evaluate business models for EV charging in the state. Finally, C2ES will recommend ways the public sector can support those business models to maximize private sector investment in EV charging.

Click here to view publications for this project.

CCS projects see progress

Three recent announcements signal important progress toward greater deployment of technology to capture and store carbon emissions that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. CCS technology can capture up to 90 percent of emissions from power plants and industrial facilities and is critical to reducing climate-changing emissions while fossil fuels remain part of our energy mix.

One piece of good news came when NRG Energy announced it has begun construction on the Petra Nova Project in Texas, where an existing coal-fired power plant will be retrofitted with carbon capture equipment. The Petra Nova Project will be the world’s third commercial-scale CCS power project, following the nearly-completed SaskPower Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi opening in 2015.

Energy efficiency financing models for buildings could work for natural gas vehicles

Owners of large buildings who want to save money by improving energy efficiency first have to overcome a huge hurdle – the upfront costs of getting the work done. A similar hurdle exists for fleet managers considering switching to natural gas vehicles to save on fuel costs – high initial expenses for vehicles and infrastructure.

What if the same method being used to pay for more energy-efficient buildings could also be used to get cleaner alternative fuel vehicles on the road? A new report by C2ES makes the connection between a commonly used business arrangement in the building sector and its potential use in the deployment of natural gas in public and private vehicle fleets.

Applying the Energy Service Company Model to Advance Deployment of Fleet Natural Gas Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

Applying the Energy Service Company Model to Advance Deployment of Fleet Natural Gas Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

June 2014

by Matt Frades

Download the full paper (PDF)

This paper explores the opportunity for using ESCO-style service contracts to advance investment in natural gas vehicles by fleets. Starting with a brief overview of the ESCO market, this paper explains how ESCOs reduce barriers faced by energy efficiency and cost savings projects, presents case studies that demonstrate how some of the features of ESCOs are being employed in cutting-edge NGV fleet projects, and explores how these features could be incorporated into innovative business models that reduce the barriers to NGV fleet project investment. 

 

Matt Frades
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