Reflections on LIGHTFAIR
How do the newest lighting technologies perform off the showroom floor, and in which applications could they save money and energy? Staff from CEE's One-Stop Efficiency Shop® explain the implications of the trends at this year's LIGHTFAIR.
The Energy Challenge'D: Crowdsourcing for Energy Efficiency
Several recent projects have demonstrated how online crowdsourcing can solve problems, share resources, and spread enthusiasm. So... could we use crowdsourcing to gather energy data or encourage efficiency?
Learning from Public Health about Behavior Change
For those of us trying to influence public energy consumption, we need to answer the question: “what makes public health campaigns successful in changing behaviors?”
The Regional Indicators Initiative: Metrics to Promote Sustainability
This guest post from LHB's Rick Carter describes tracking the progress of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program and outlines key findings so far.
Reflections on BuildingEnergy 2013
BuildingEnergy is an annual interdisciplinary renewable energy and high-performance building conference and trade show. Highlights included case studies from resilient cities, electric grid security, and a discussion of LEED standards for neighborhood development.
Fieldwork and Evaluation
An interview with Michael Blasnik about understanding the actual performance of buildings using measured data.
Behavior and Usability: At the Interface of Human-Building Interaction
We need to apply user-centered approaches to the design of the appliances, technologies, and equipment that consume the energy that we use in our homes and workplaces.
in other words: EISA Lighting Standards
Framing the standards as a ban on incandescent light bulbs misrepresents the actual situation: EISA increases the efficiency standards for a product whose design has remained essentially unchanged for 100 years.
in other words: Electric Generators: Disaster Preparedness or Preparing a Disaster?
A segment of the public anticipates prolonged power outages. But in taking steps to prepare our homes for natural disasters, could we be making them less safe?
in other words: Market Segmentation
Some utilities have successfully adopted market segmentation approaches. Developing a segmentation model is expensive, but a number of online resources could provide enough insight to improve program recruitment.
Reflections on the 2013 Midwest Energy Efficiency Solutions Conference
Bridget McLaughin and Nancy Lange describe topics and trends at this year's conference, from quantifing non-energy benefits to identifying the potential for improving efficiency in the industrial sector.
One-Stop Efficiency Shop® Customer Profile
When the energy community talks about the “small commercial” sector, we lump together a huge assortment of businesses.
Gospel of Public Art
"With the world in crisis and people looking for solutions, it’s no surprise that artists like these are employing their creative talents to raise questions and address challenging issues. Good public art is not just about looking good."
A guest post from Jack Becker of Forecast Public Art.
Behind the Facade of Multifamily Financing
An interview with Andy Padian about his experiences financing energy efficiency projects and mentoring future leaders in sustainability.
A Greener Deal from Across the Pond
Alex Krzesinski, Marketing Executive at Yorkshire Energy Services, describes the new United Kingdom residential program called Green Deal.
BuffaLove! Historic Preservation and Energy Efficiency
"The greenest building is the one that is still standing."
An interview with Bernice Radle, Program Coordinator at Buffalo Energy.
Existing Building Commissioning Case Study: Minnesota History Center
How can you correct excessive energy use in a building that houses museum exhibition spaces, classrooms, storage spaces for valuable artifacts, a library, and conservation laboratories?
Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency: Part 2
i.e interviewed Director of Research Martha Hewett and Director of Indoor Air Quality Dave Bohac to learn how their projects on secondhand smoke overlap with CEE's building science research.
Reflections on the 2012 BECC Conference
BECC was a good chance to catch up on how the latest social psychology and behavioral economics work is being applied to energy efficiency.
Energy Savings in Historic Sites: The Importance of Small Sites
"Sustainability does not involve blanket strategies that can be applied with the same level of success in every context."
A guest post from the Minnesota Historical Society.
Plugload and Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030
Most energy reduction stratgies focus on lighting, plumbing, and HVAC loads, but target energy use intensities can only be achieved by proportionally lowering the plugload.
> 1,000 Words: Secondhand Smoke Animations
Even though the walls of an apartment look solid, air buoyancy and pressure differences between interior spaces cause air to move between rooms and even to other units in the building. We've created animations showing how these interior air driving forces affect the migration of secondhand smoke within a multifamily apartment building.
in other words: Commercial Building Benchmarking
Some cities are adopting building benchmarking requirements as a step to improve the overall energy performance of buildings. When instituted into everyday building management, benchmarking can help building owners see how their building's energy use compares to that of its peers and its own potential. It is not itself an energy-saving solution, but a long-term management tool.
Reflections on the 2012 E Source Forum
Last week, Innovation Exchange staff Nancy Lange and Lester Shen attended the 2012 E Source Forum. Originally created by the Rocky Mountain Institute, E Source provides subscription-based services in the form of information and advice to utilities, large end-users of power, Federal and State agencies, and vendors. In this post, Nancy and Lester share their reflections about this year’s Forum.
Power and Energy Primer: Part 1 - The Light Bulb and the Electric Bill
Definitions like “energy is the capacity for doing work” and “power is the rate of doing work or the rate of using energy” don’t do much to differentiate between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour. This post walks through an example to show why to consider investing in energy efficiency upgrades before installing a solar PV system.
401(e): Workplace Energy Saving Program
Community Energy Services draws from CEE’s experience applying community organizing principles to residential energy program design, but program staff are always looking for new ways to engage and educate people about energy. In this guest post, Program Coordinator Helen Booth-Tobin gives an update on a new pilot project to reach homeowners outside their neighborhoods.
Financing as Follow-Through
High initial costs can discourage homeowners from making large investments in energy improvements such as new heating equipment or insulation. Our residential program tries to remove this barrier by helping identify available rebates. And CEE offers financing options such as low interest loans. This provides consistent messaging and follow-through.
Women in Energy: Students
i.e. is interviewing women at CEE to recognize their work in energy. For this installment, we sat down with intern Corinne Wichser, a Mechanical Engineering graduate student finishing up her Masters Degree from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and volunteer Kate Goldstein, a PhD candidate at M.I.T., to find out what it’s like to be a female student in the energy field.
French Perspective: Tax Credit for Sustainable Development
This guest post from CEE's International Fellow Alice H., outlines a French tax credit for sustainable development. It provides substantial incentives to households that invest to improve the energy efficiency of their home. To-date, the program is the most-used incentive by French households.
in other words: Innovation and Design Thinking
During the late 80s and early 90s, the term “house as a system” pervaded the home energy field. This led the community to consider the interconnected systems of the building, but fell short of a systems thinking approach. Yes, the house is a system, but we do not practice systems thinking until we understand and define the system patterns and consider the entire system, including its occupants.
Residential Water Heater Calculator
Water heating accounts for about 20% of the energy used in houses. Efficiencies of residential water heaters have risen in recent years, and new technologies provide significant opportunities for savings. In this guest post, Innovation Exchange intern Drew Polasky explains the first steps of a CEE work-in-progress: an online calculator tool that allows visitors to receive an idea of their water use and energy bill, plus possibilities for improvement.
Online Engagement for Energy Savings
CEE's Communications Coordinator Neely Crane-Smith shares insight on community organizing and social media, lessons learned from the Minneosta Energy Challenge, and advice for building connections with online tools.
in other words: $250 for a Thermostat?!
Programmable thermostats are available for a little more than $50: why would any rational person spend four to five times that price for a Nest or other comparable wifi-enabled smart thermostat?
Look Before You Leap: Being a Desk Jockey Can Help You Do an Energy Audit
In this post, we’ll describe how you can gather important information about the house prior to the visit while sitting at your desk. Thanks to the Internet, you could begin filling out the audit form before stepping into your car and even perform a visual inspection of the exterior of the house. We'll discuss available tools and useful analyses that can help prepare and expedite your house visit.
Bicycling Counts: Official Counts
Bicycling Counts is based on real Twin Cities data. The installation's aim is to provide an estimated impact for each passing cyclist that it "counts". Check this post daily to see how the social and ecological impacts of Minneapolis bicycling add up!
Bicycling Counts: Interview with Visual Storyteller Arlene Birt
Arlene Birt is a visual storyteller whose work illustrates the global social and environmental implications of everyday choices. She’s partnering with CEE for Bicycling Counts. i.e. had the opportunity to interview her about bicycling and information design.
Productivity in the Cloud
Cloud computing moves software and data from local servers to store it on servers in remote locations. It has been said to provide energy efficiency benefits compared to in-house servers. Working in the cloud also enhances productivity, communication, and collaboration.
The Nest Thermostat: Saving Energy Can Be Fun
In this guest post, CEE's IT Manager Tom Spielman tests out a Nest thermostat in his own home. What does it look like? How does it work? And -most importantly- does it actually save energy?
in other words: Video Game Consoles and Home Entertainment Centers
The home entertainment system is often at the heart of the discussion when dealing with plug loads and standby power. How can we address their phantom loads?
In this post, I’ll discuss a couple of concepts for videos that apply new ways of messaging that incorporate ideas from social psychology and marketing.
Tracking the "Look" of Energy on Pinterest
Pinterest is an excellent way to visually catalog online finds. Its link to home design and maintenance creates an opportunity to save residential energy. After a preliminary exploration of how Pinterest users approach energy efficiency on the site, we’ve identified some interesting trends.
Opening our Open Office
This week, the Innovation Exchange is moving down the hall from the main CEE Downtown office. We’re experimenting with a new open layout and our new space features a lab where our research staff can upload data or perform experiments.
Anatomy of the Energy Drips Video
In order to spur awareness and interest, we turned to the fields of social psychology and behavioral economics to create more effective messaging. Based on the research, we learned that the concept of loss aversion is a strong motivator for people to take action. We decided to re-frame the conversation around energy efficiency from "use less" to "waste less."