New and Notable

November 21, 2007
November/December 2007
A version of this article appears in the November/December 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Solar Hot Water Installation Opens

In mid-August, Yolo County Housing  Authority (YCHA) representatives officially inaugurated the  installation of 40 SunCache solar hot water systems at the Davis Farmworker Migration Center. This is one of the three migrant farmworker housing centers in Yolo County, California, where seasonal workers will be enjoying hot water heated by the sun, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating expenses.

 The SunCache system has been developed by Davis Energy Group (DEG), a product development engineering firm in Davis, California. The SunCache system will initially be marketed by Advanced Energy Products, a recent spin-off from DEG intended to commercialize low-energy and renewable energy technologies. As the SunCache installation partner, SunTechnics Energy Systems of Sacramento, California, installed these systems as well as all prior SunCache prototypes.
The development of the low-cost SunCache solar water heating system was sponsored by DOE and was administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In addition to financial support, NREL scientists provided technical assistance and the DOE funds contributed substantially to the fabrication and installation of these preproduction systems.
Upon completion of the testing phase, ownership of the 40 SunCache systems will be transferred to the Yolo County Housing Authority.

Migrant farmworker housing centers are ideal for solar applications due to their seasonal operation, lack of natural gas, and higher than usual evening shower hot water usage pattern. Water heaters are split about evenly between electric and propane, which both cost more to operate than gas water heaters.

Merrill Lynch’s New Energy Efficiency Index

The Merrill Lynch energy efficiency index (EEI) recently joined the company’s list of green indexes, as well as a growing list of clean energy and climate change indexes compiled by other providers.

“The energy efficiency index stands out because it really is the only index to focus exclusively on the demand side of the energy equation and identifies the segments of the market which are best placed with products which lower the consumption of energy and by so doing lower CO2 emissions,” says Asari Efiong, renewable energy analyst for Merrill Lynch.

The index identifies the automotive, building materials, capital goods, and semiconductors sectors as the sectors that are most likely to benefit  from an increase in efficiency.

Merrill Lynch’s index considers the rise in regulations on CO2 emissions and new fuel emission standards—from the local level to the national and global levels—and identifies the companies that will benefit from these policies.

The index identifies the building sector as the sector with the biggest potential for increasing energy efficiency at the lowest cost.  The companies selected for the index include manufacturers of building insulation. Merrill Lynch believes that the growth in this sector mirrors new legislation, especially from the European Union, that regulates energy-efficient building.

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Don’t it Make My Brownstone Green

In an attempt to streamline their incentive programs to encourage multifamily buildings to comply with Energy Star and LEED standards, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) moved the program implementation into the private sector. This change simplifies the process by responding more to the real needs of the developer, reducing the paperwork headaches for builders, and providing more money to owners and developers. The incentives offer savings of from “$1.85 to $2.35 per square foot plus $275 per apartment.”
The improvements also bring floods of applications for certification into the mailbox of Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA). With firms in Connecticut, Washington and New York City, they are particularly well-versed in the challenges of LEED-certifying multi-family housing.

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New Building Retrofit Program

The establishment of the global Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit program, a project of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) was recently announced. This project brings together four of the world’s largest energy service companies (ESCOs), five of the world’s largest banks, and 16 of the world’s largest cities in a landmark program designed to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings.

“Climate change is a global problem that requires local action,” says former president Bill Clinton. “The businesses, banks, and cities partnering with my foundation are addressing the issue of global warming because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good for their bottom line. They’re going to save money, make money, create jobs, and have a tremendous collective impact on climate change all at once. I’m proud of them for showing leadership on the critical issue of climate change and I thank them for their commitment to this new initiative.”

Urban areas are responsible for approximately 75% of all energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Buildings account for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and in cities such as New York and London this figure is close to 70%.  The Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit program will provide both cities and private building owners with access to the necessary funds to retrofit existing buildings with more energy-efficient products, typically leading to energy savings of 20%–50%.

Honeywell; Johnson Controls, Incorporated; Siemens; and Trane will conduct energy audits, perform building retrofits, and guarantee the energy savings of the retrofit projects. ABN AMRO, Citi, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS have committed to provide $1 billion each to finance cities and private building owners to undertake these retrofits at no net cost, doubling the global market for energy retrofits in buildings. These banks will work alongside energy efficiency finance specialist Hannon Armstrong and CCI to develop effective mechanisms to deploy this capital globally. Cities and building owners will pay back the loans plus interest with the energy savings generated by the building retrofits.

An initial group of 16 of the world’s largest cities has agreed to participate in the retrofit program, and to offer their municipal buildings for the first round of energy retrofits. These cities are Bangkok, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, Johannesburg, Karachi, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Mumbai, New York, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo, and Toronto.

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Committing to High Energy Efficiency Standards

U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman recently met with Gary Lunn, minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRC), and Georgina Kessel, Mexico’s energy secretary, in Victoria, British Columbia, to confirm their commitment to further aligning energy efficiency standards on key consumer products, noting that recent collaborative efforts had resulted in the harmonization of energy performance standards for refrigerators, air conditioners, and large electric motors. They identified seven additional energy-using products as potential candidates for harmonization and committed to strengthening trilateral cooperation on motor vehicle fuel efficiency and standby power consumption—that is, the energy used by electrical devices when they are switched off.

The ministers also endorsed the first-ever trilateral agreement on energy science and technology, establishing a framework to stimulate innovation and to share and help build capacity in all three countries. The ministers will work to identify specific ways to increase cooperation on research and development and to reduce barriers to the deployment of new technologies in a wide variety of areas, including biofuels, hydrogen, and electricity transmission. To further these efforts, the three countries will exchange scientific and technical personnel, who will participate in joint studies and projects.

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