New fed resources for solar installations, energy efficiency info

While the spirit is often willing to think sustainably, sometimes rules and regs get in the way. These resources could help.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

The federal government has made a couple of different moves this week regarding resources available to businesses and communities trying to get their acts together with respect to building energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The first comes in the form of a new pilot program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is aimed at advancing the cause of energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The effort, called Building Performance with Energy Star, seeks to set up certain Energy Star utilities partners as go-to organizations when it comes to figuring out "whole building" energy improvements. Those partners include Com Ed, MidAmerican, National Grid, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Wisconsin Focus on Energy.

Among other things, the EPA is trying to get businesses better acquainted with the financial resources that might enable them to take on certain projects. It also is talking up an online tool that can help businesses score building performance, assess what retrofits would have the most impact, and so on.

The second resource I've stumbled across this week comes in the form of a new grant that was just doled out by the U.S. Department of Energy to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

The whole point of the $5 million award is to help ICMA work with experts including the American Planning Association and the National Association of Regional Councils on ways to help encourage adoption of solar energy technology. I noticed this one because, frankly, many communities are struggling to figure out how solar technology installations apply in their individual locations. The idea is to help local governments take the plunge. Hopefully, after they do, they will be better able to accommodate private investments within homes and businesses in their community.

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