by April 8, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]


Change the light bulb. (Luis Gomez Photos)

With spring right around the corner, you might be thinking about washing your carpets and sweeping the porch, but have you thought about cleaning out your energy bills? The average DC household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy.

With summer months of higher energy usage ahead, spring is a great time to evaluate your in-home energy use and take advantage of rebates to upgrade your appliances and lighting.

Lighting and Appliances

Whether you are replacing light bulbs or appliances in your home, ENERGY STAR qualified products can help you save energy and reduce energy bills.

  • Save water, energy, and time. ENERGY STAR clothes washers use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load. Most ENERGY STAR clothes washers do not have a central agitator which causes less wear and tear and fewer wrinkles, plus, it increases the capacity.
  • Save money. Using advanced technology and better insulation, ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators use half the electricity of standard models and can save you up to $1,100 on energy costs over their lifetime.
  • Upgrade for less. The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) is offering discounts on energy-efficient lighting and appliances. Download $50 easy-to-use mail-in rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers and refrigerators at  DC SEU.
  • Brighten up. Lighting accounts for about 20 percent of annual household electricity bills, or approximately $200 per year. Compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) and long-lasting light emitting diodes (LEDs) offer higher quality light than incandescent bulbs and use less energy. Find retailers in your area with CFLs for prices as low as $1 and download $5 and $10 rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified LEDs.

Heating and Cooling Maintenance

Nearly 50 percent of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. To prune your energy bill this spring, maintain your cooling equipment.

  • Keep it clean. Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system failure.
  • Schedule a checkup. Have a licensed contractor make sure your system is operating at peak performance.
  • Check your system’s air filter. When it is dirty, change it. At a minimum change it every three months.

For more information on the DC SEU, visit their website or contact Hanna Grene at 202-309-3839 or hgrene[AT]

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by January 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm 0

From Allison Acosta. Email her at allison[AT]


The DC SEU offers help and technical assistance. (Luis Gomez Photos)

SEU Offers Help Center

New regulations are rolling out that will affect all buildings in DC over 50,000 gross square feet (gsf) in size. Effective January 18, with deadlines phased in through 2014, owners of large DC buildings must measure and report their energy and water use to the District Department of Environment (DDOE) using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s no-cost ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool.

These new regulations were established as part of the Green Building Act of 2006 (GBA) and the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA).

In order to help building owners and property managers comply with the new requirements, the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) is offering a Benchmarking Help Center that will provide technical assistance on reporting and connect building owners to the SEU’s energy efficiency programs. The Help Center can be reached at (202) 525-7036 or at mbenchmarking[AT] Details of upcoming trainings, to be held on Wednesdays in February and March, can be found on the DDOE website.

“The Benchmarking Help Center complements the wide range of sustainable energy services the DC SEU currently offers to District building owners,” said DC SEU Managing Director Ted Trabue. “This is a great resource to help these building owners understand their requirements under the new regulation, and more importantly, harness the information they will be gathering to help them save money and energy.”

The reporting deadline for all buildings over 100,000 gsf is April 1, 2013. Buildings larger than 50,000 gsf are due to report by April 1, 2014. Thereafter, all commercial and multifamily buildings over 50,000 gsf will be required to report benchmarking data to the District on April 1 of every year.

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by January 28, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]


The migration to large cities around the world continues. (Luis Gomez Photos)

A massive shift in demographics has taken place in the past few decades as millions of people leave rural lands and move to ever-expanding cities. This phenomenon is not limited to any one continent, it’s happening everywhere.

Today, more than half the world’s population live in cities and close to 80 percent of global economic and environmental output is tied to cities — as opposed to rural or undeveloped areas. The migration of people towards cities looks set to continue for some time.

And not alone in this is New York City, where the Big Apple’s three-term Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently commented about the NYC experience.

“Recent college graduates are flocking to Brooklyn not merely because of employment opportunities, but because it is where some of the most exciting things in the world are happening — in music, art, design, food, shops, technology and green industry. Economists may not say it this way but the truth of the matter is: being cool counts. When people can find inspiration in a community that also offers great parks, safe streets and extensive mass transit, they vote with their feet.”

“New York has an impact on the rest of the world” — according to Bloomberg. “The environmental stuff, whether or not it reverses climate change, influences you and your kids today–the air you breathe, the water you drink, the economy you have, the opportunities you have. Today. That’s how you sell the environment. Don’t try to sell it for 40 years from now. Think ‘my air, my water.’ And cities are where it’s all going to happen,” according to Bloomberg.

Acting in their own self-interest, a growing list of cities are joining together to find and share new environmental and economic solutions via the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), which “is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.”

Acting both locally and collaboratively, C40 Cities are having a meaningful global impact in reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks. Through a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, C40 brings together a unique set of assets and creates a shared sense of purpose. C40 offers cities an effective forum where they can collaborate, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change (C40).

As cities now comprise more than half of the world’s total population, which is slightly more than 7-billion as of January 2013, it makes sense for responsible and visionary leaders to find solutions to common problems and to find better ways to enhance the enjoyment of citizens. From Vancouver, Canada, to Washington, DC, to Copenhagen, Denmark, mayors and other civic leaders are at work improving the present model for more than three billion city-dwellers worldwide.

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by October 17, 2008 at 8:11 am 1,188 1 Comment

  • What: Home energy audits.
  • Who: Through the District Department of Environment (DDOE).
  • How: For information or to schedule an audit, call DDOE at (202) 673-6700 or visit their Web site.
  • Why: Lower your heating bills, and maybe get a tax credit for the improvements you make.

From DDOE’s October 14 news release:

District residents can prepare their homes for winter with a free energy audit from the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). The audits recommend easy, inexpensive ways to improve energy efficiency. For example, reducing air leaks can save up to 30 percent of the energy consumed in a home.

In an older, historic home, this could mean as much energy loss as leaving a window open all winter. DDOE energy audits help residents save money and reduce global warming by wasting less energy.

DDOE has contracted with Elysian Energy, LLC and Patuxent Environmental Group to perform the audits. Inspectors measure energy characteristics, such as insulation levels, window efficiency, wall-to-wall ratios, heating and cooling system efficiency, the solar orientation of the home, and water heating systems. Diagnostic testing, which may include a blower door for air leakage and duct leakage testing, is often part of the rating.

At the end of the process, the homeowner or renter receives a one- to five-star rating for energy efficiency, and a report listing cost-effective ways to improve the rating. DDOE also offers information on tax credits and financing for energy-efficient home improvements.

For more information, or to schedule an energy audit, call DDOE’s Energy Office at (202) 673-6700 or visit our website.


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