Why Wait to Become Energy Efficient - Energy-Savings Inducements, Programs, and Initiatives are Now Reducing Homeowners and Renter's Costs in Tennessee

Friday, July 06, 2007

Due to the planning by staff of the three HUD Offices in Tennessee and USDA Rural Development (www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn/housing.htm), the Second Annual Tennessee Statewide Energy Conference with some 100 attendees occurred at Nashville's Adventure Science Center on May 15, 2007. A full array of presenters representing federal, state and local public, private and non-profit sector agencies spoke on energy-savings initiatives, existing and future energy-savings best practices, and on the latest energy-savings incentives that are presently being offered to help individuals, apartment owners and businesses reduce their energy costs.

[Photo 1: Energy presentation]
Some 100 people from several states attended the second annual Tennessee Energy Conference held at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville.

Speakers from USDA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Public Housing Authorities, and others offered their expertise on subject matter involving Tennessee Valley Authority's Energy Right Program (www.energyright.com/) and Green Power Switch Program (www.tva.gov/greenpowerswitch/index.htm), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's Zero Energy Homes Initiative (www.cleanenergy.org/about/index.cfm), Energy Star Products (www.energystar.gov/), Energy Efficient Mortgages and approved RESNET Energy Raters requirements (www.resnet.us/standards/default.htm), ORNL's Solar Technologies Program (www.ornl.gov/sci/solar/), Public Housing Authority Best Practices, energy savings tips, and more. Ten separate presentations were provided, including a presentation by HUD Region IV (Southeast/Caribbean) Energy Coordinator, Jim Chaplin, who roused the audience to get involved with Energy Savings Initiatives. The agenda also included the use of alternative energy programs and discussion of the savings and operation of sites in Tennessee, such as solar and wind energy facilities, unique experiments, and the latest technological advances related to alternative energy systems and energy reduction.

[Photo 2: Attendees]
Attendees received a potpourri of energy-savings resources and successful best practices from participating organizations.

Energy conservation measures play a big factor in HUD's plan to reduce energy usage. Why is HUD a promoter of energy savings initiatives? HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy signed a formal partnership in 2002 to promote ENERGY STAR throughout HUD's affordable housing programs, and committed themselves to reduce energy costs. Efforts to promote ENERGY STAR will not only improve the energy-efficiency of the affordable housing stock, but will also help protect the environment. Also, HUD's multi-faceted programs offer incentives to utilize energy-savings techniques, as seen in HUD's Energy Action Plan. Grantees that implement plans to reduce energy usage are warranted extra points during ratings for grants, as well.

Due to these initiatives, HUD public housing authorities and multi-family developers across the nation are implementing energy performance contacts - that is rehab or improvements to begin using Energy Star appliances, thicker insulation, water and temperature controls, etc. One of many authorities with such contracts in Tennessee is the Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA) (www.openingdoors.org/). Executive Director, Bob Dull, presented details about CHA's energy performance contract (online on their site), including the financing partnerships, new energy-savings improvements, cost reductions from energy reduction, and explained some of the unexpected setbacks they experienced with regards to the initiative.

Attendees received packets of information from the different agency presenters to take back to their respective organizations, and were equipped with the information they could use to kick-start their own energy-savings initiatives. In fact, many attended just for reference or for names of companies selling solar or alternative energy equipment in the area or to obtain the names of companies and individuals offering specific services in the energy field. Said one, "The information we received today was in depth and concrete."

Some said they had never been to an Energy Conference with such a multitude of available programs being offered for energy savings, and that they "didn't know these programs were out there for the public." You can read more about some of the best practices and success stories performed across the nation.

With this notion in mind, and with the increasing costs of petroleum products, whether being used for transportation, heating, or materials, it's good to know that its increasing costs may now be offset by the use of alternative energy devices, building improvements, Energy Star appliances, and basic conservation practices. So, why wait to begin the upgrade to your building, your home, or your apartments? Take advantage of the tax credits and become energy efficient now (www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits).

Content Archived: September 09, 2009