Two Florida Cities Rank in the Top 25 for ENERGYSTAR

The ENERGY STAR Program, operating out of the US Department of Energy, just released their top 25 cities for energy efficient buildings for 2018 with two major Florida cities claiming a spot. Miami, a veteran on the list since 2012, came in at number 21 while Tampa ranked at number 16 in its first year. To be recognized on this list, Miami certified 106 buildings in 2017 totaling over 23.7 million sqft. and  Tampa certified 154 buildings totaling about 26.3 million sqft. The top two cities of Los Angeles and Washington, DC both had over 660 buildings certified that covered more than 145 million sqft. This is the first time in the lists’ nine year run that two Florida cities have made the list.

ENERGY STAR certified buildings are verified to be more energy efficient than 75% of similar buildings nationwide and use, on average, 35% less energy than typical buildings.  This has a direct effect of building operations’ budgets and something that Hill York has a proven track record of achieving. Please contact Hill York’s Technical Services Group to get started with an energy efficiency benchmark.

 

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) in Florida

Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to look at the projects that need to be accomplished at your home and business. When making decisions on which projects you complete and how you are going to pay for them, don’t forget to look into clean energy financing as one of your options.

In the tri-county area of South Florida, we have the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program available to us. Through property-based financing, PACE Florida alleviates the financial hurdles facing owners wanting to make sustainable upgrades to their property. Below are the top 3 reasons why the PACE program might be for you.

Zero Cost Upfront: The upfront costs of sustainability projects like energy efficiency, renewable energy, or wind mitigation can be daunting and limiting. PACE was created to remove that upfront cost barrier and allow anyone to make positive changes to their businesses and homes. The private lender pays the initial cost of the projects, which is then repaid over a 5-25 year period as a line item on your property taxes. In order to qualify with Ygrene, one of the PACE program lenders, you need:

  • 10% equity in your home,
  • To be current on your mortgage payments,
  • Not currently be in bankruptcy, and
  • To have not been late on your property taxes in the last three years.

Hundreds of Projects: Selecting projects to tackle through PACE financing can be a difficult decision because there are so many possible improvements to choose from. Examples of qualifying projects are high efficiency air conditioners, kitchen appliances, and LED lighting as well as new roofing, hurricane impact windows, insulation, solar panels, and water efficient fixtures and landscaping.

More Savings: The most tangible benefits that come from completing a sustainability project through PACE are how easy they are to complete, they raise your property’s value, lower utility bills, and reduce your insurance costs. In some cases, the savings you receive from updating your home or business will more than make up the amount of the loan attached to your property taxes. Every month that you have new, more energy efficient equipment is more money to be used how you see fit. In addition, because these upgrades mitigate risk to your home or business, you can see reductions in your insurance.

There are many ways to fund green and energy efficient projects. Having the PACE program available to use in South Florida is one of the best ways to make investments into your property and your pocket book.  For more information visit one of the local PACE program lenders or the Florida PACE informational site.

US Federal Government Passes Milestone on Efficiency

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced in February that the US federal government recorded the lowest total delivered-to-site energy use in 2013 since they started keeping track in 1975. With more than 350,000 buildings and 600,000 road vehicles, the federal government is our nation’s largest energy consumer at 0.96 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) totalling $24 billion. Because the government is the largest, there is room for improvement and an opportunity for saving. Sustainability goals set by the Energy Independence Act of 2007 and an executive order by President Obama in 2009 contributed heavily to the government’s decline in petroleum fuel consumption, energy intensity and consumption, and potable water consumption.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) also provides agencies with information, tools, and the assistance they need to plan, track, and meet their energy-related requirements and goals. The aforementioned sustainability goals included reducing the consumption per square foot of federal buildings by 30% from 2003 levels by 2015. With the help of FEMP, and the continued focus on energy efficiency by the administration, the federal government has decreased the energy intensity of its buildings by more than 45% from the baseline year of 1975.

Dedicating part of Hill York’s business to energy efficiency means that we are keeping up with trends in the industry and savings our clients energy and money. I know that, similar to the Federal Government, Hill York will build on our successes and achieve even greater levels of comfort for our clients.

New Florida Building Codes in Effect

It is now July of 2015, which means that the fifth edition of the Florida building Code is now in effect. The updated codes are now mandatory for all new construction or rehabilitation projects that will result in safer, more sustainable buildings and homes. You can read through all the new Florida Building Codes, 5th Edition here, but I will attempt to summarize some key changes in the Energy Code.

Before specifically stating the prevalent changes the Energy Code, the changes will increase capital costs, increase soft costs, decrease operational costs, dampen utility infrastructure demand, and improve asset value retention. This essentially means that a little more upfront cost goes a long way to improving sustainability of valuable infrastructure and improving value.

The new Energy Code now requires buildings to be 19% more efficient than the current compliant building and commissioning is now required for lighting controls and hvac systems over 40 tons. These changes will require a larger focus on sustainable development by thinking through whole building efficiency as well as individual system efficiencies. This change is in line with the trends that we’ve been seeing throughout the industry that Hill York is already ahead of. You can read about those trends here and here.

Leveraging the Market and Government Policy

The private sector has been driving energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction as a part of a sustainability movement for the past 10 years. Companies and industries such as Microsoft and Coca Cola, and many more, now release sustainability reports so that consumers can see everything that they are doing to help reduce the impact made by their product or service. Apart from the private sector, governments are now pushing the sustainability movement even further with new goals to reach and a plan on how to get there.

In November of 2014, the Obama administration announced a joint sustainability venture with China to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26% below 2005 levels in the United States by 2025 and to peak carbon emissions by 2030 in China. In late March, the United States submitted its plan to achieve such reduction in greenhouse gases that included reducing building sector emissions and four other actions. One way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was the utilization of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark buildings and drive efficiency through building upgrades and efficient appliances. Other possible ways to achieve this is offering federal rebates for efficiency upgrades or grants on both the state and federal level.

What does this mean for Hill York, a company at the forefront of efficiency in Florida? It means that while we have been operating on a market driven wave of efficiency, we can leverage new sustainability goals by the US to bring Energy Solutions throughout the state. Hill York is already using Portfolio Manager and has benchmarked many facilities that have grown into large-scale efficiency projects. We also recently secured two Energy Solutions jobs by leveraging state grant money to improve energy efficiency; a perfect example of keeping up with all the tools at our disposal. Read, download, and print the press release here. Our business is driven by both the “invisible hand” of the market as well as government policy, and staying on top of both has put Hill York at the front of the industry.