Energy Efficiency

Fort Collin update

We have been working since January to establish a grading system for building energy efficiency and disclosing the grade that a building has earned in sale or lease advertising. 12 communities around the country have implemented similar policies and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has a "how to" sheet to help local governments do the same.  I have been meeting with renters, homeowners, landlords, property managers, real-estate professionals, energy auditors, contractors, and Fort Collins City Councilmembers and Utilities to develop a policy that works for all stakeholders. Gino Campana, council district 3, is the only council member out of seven that has yet to meet with me about this.

I am meeting with Gerry Horak, Council dist. 6, next week to draft ordinance language that will require the energy score be disclosed in advertising. It looks like we will go for a 1-10 score instead of an A-F grade, 10 being the best. If a building hasn't yet been scored, then it will receive an "unrated" score. I'd like to see the latter provision sunset after 2 yrs and a building not rated would score "0".  This is required to prevent an army of "unrated" buildings that would undercut the entire policy. The real-estate folks that I've met with are at least OK with this idea. The landlords that have faith in their property love the idea. Renters and prospective buyers love the idea. The contractors and auditors absolutely love the idea. The only people that don't love the idea are afraid to have their housing inspected. This could be because of asbestos in the house or because of illegal situations (fire hazards, etc) in rentals. In this case the owner can accept a "0" score and renters and buyers beware.

The other caveat is that Fort Collins Utilities needs to develop the scoring system. Energy auditors (inspectors) and contractors want to see a score of "10" being energy neutral and a score "1" means that you're living in a tent. Most housing would fall right in the middle. Energy neutral means that the property generates as much energy as it uses. This can be done (and has been in town) with ultra-efficiency and solar panels. "10" is a step above the rest. "8 or 9" is what most housing in FTC would be shooting for and there is extremely low cost financing available to get there. 

Unfortunately Fort Collins Utilities wants to use a Department of Energy scoring method that grades on a curve. A "10" is equivalent to the top 12% of houses participating in a survey from 2009. Not only is it disingenuous to grade on a curve but the curve is WAY out of date! A building should be scored on it's potential and if you went through the expense and effort to be the best, then you deserve better. Energy professionals and at least one councilman (Ross Cunniff, D5) agree. We have to hold our public Utility to a higher standard! 

Thank you for your continued support!

Energy Efficiency Financing Screw-up a Result of Miscommunication

January was meeting month!  I kicked off the new year by meeting with Fort Collins Utility’s (FCU) efficiency manager John Phelan.  My impression leaving the meeting was that FCU is focused on new goals and philosophy.  That is important and needs to be done, but not at the expense of implementing “on the ground” projects that actually help people.  The On-Bill Financing program had a first year goal of 30 and achieved 6 (details on our “financing efficiency” page).  It is a recognized failure.  FCU knows why the program was a flop and what needs to be done to fix it but they don’t want to take the time to do it right.  That is not acceptable!