From Conservation Services Group


When Kevin Farrell, director of training for Conservation Services Group (CSG), found himself surrounded by attendees at a recent trade show, he was pleasantly surprised. The firm had decided to have him attend the event at the last minute to demonstrate CSG’s new online building science curriculum. He had no idea that the new learning tool would generate such a buzz.


The new courses combine elements used in advertising and news—storyboarding, crisp graphics, interactive features, multimedia, and video—to grab viewers and keep them engaged. So far, the feedback has been very positive. Needless to say, going to the trade show was a very good call.


For nearly 30 years CSG has kept true to its mission: to make homes and buildings safer, healthier, and more comfortable, durable, and affordable; and to create a sustainable industry focused on the wise use of energy. Reflecting this philosophy, CSG trains contractors and building professionals to ensure that high performance standards are consistently being met.


Online education is an exciting new aspect of CSG’s training division, but the company will continue to use in-class instructors, as it has done for the past 20 years. (See “Training at CSG”.) “Classroom learning is important, and we’ll always have instructors. Nothing beats the personal interactions the live sessions bring,” says Farrell.


C S G h as seen a growing interest in technical education in recent years, as the state and federal governments have set higher standards for weatherization work. As a result, utilities, consumers, housing agencies, and other organizations are looking for accredited contractors to ensure quality and measurable energy savings. The need for improved qualifications is driving the demand for continuing education for contractors all over the country.


Mark Dyen, a CSG executive vice president, says another big change in the industry is that jobs in building science are becoming a career path. “There are many more places where excellent training is available, such as at trade schools, community colleges and job centers. Training is carving out a wider niche in the industry,” he says.


The History of Training at CSG 

Twenty years ago, training sessions were held in a small conference room in CSG’s first office in Boston. Space was limited to just ten CSG staff members. The overhead projector was king. Old-fashioned, wooden dollhouse-like structures were used to illustrate concepts. Few people had ever seen a CFL, and infrared scanners cost a whopping $25,000 each. No one formally taught applied building science (ABS) techniques. Dyen, who has been with CSG since its early training days, says, “The integration of whole-house methods and ABS principles has been part of our curriculum design from the beginning. These concepts are still being taught today.”


Services grew significantly in the mid- 1990s, when open-market training became available and CSG’s contractor network expanded. But in 2000, building education at the energy services firm really took off. Big programs got bigger. Contract requirements became more stringent. In 2009, when an infusion of federal stimulus money became available for weatherization programs, states had to ramp up training quickly. Building education exploded at CSG, and the firm was educating hundreds of contractors in shifts to accommodate the demand.


Read the rest of this blog by Conservation Services Group


From Onset Computer


The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) is a tax-exempt public charity based in Middlebury, Vermont. The VCF oversees 600 funds and ranks among the top 10% of community foundations in the country. It manages more than $154 million in assets and awards $10.5 million in grants annually.

With its eye on the future, the VCF is developing a plan to decrease its carbon footprint as part of an investment in environmental stewardship. Already, a portion of the energy the organization consumes is produced from bio waste, plus staff members recycle food scraps and other organic material in their very own vermicomposting system.


The VCF is housed in a three-story, 9,000 square foot facility that generates $25,000 in utility bills each year. Three dollars per square foot is a high price to pay, especially considering that the HVAC system is relatively new. Because Middlebury offers no natural gas utility services, the building’s closed-loop water-source heat pump system is fueled by more expensive energy sources: electricity and propane. The VCF calculates it will spend $465,000 in total energy costs over the next fifteen years, based on a conservative 3% per year price increase.

To get a handle on building energy use, the VCF called in Kilawatt Technologies, a leading energy management consulting firm based in Shelburne, Vermont. The goals were clear: determine which energy-saving equipment best fits the needs of the facility, and calculate the potential return-on-investment of the new equipment.


To achieve these goals, Kilawatt Technologies employed a data-driven approach, deploying a variety of portable data loggers throughout the facility. Energy consumption data were collected over a three-week period, resulting in more than 250,000 measurements, including temperature, relative humidity, CO2 levels, motor run times, and electricity usage. Four types of temperature readings were collected: zone temperatures, heat pump discharged air, boiler, and main heat pump loop-heat injection.

“The data loggers we used made it possible for us to collect large quantities of diverse data in a short amount of time,” says Steven Antinozzi, Chief Operations Officer at Kilawatt. “Fortunately, the devices come at a reasonable cost, making our data-driven tactics possible.”

Antinozzi and his team used a variety of deployment techniques that depended on installation locations and available surfaces. For example, they attached Onset HOBO® UX90 Motor On/Off data loggers directly to loop motors using the loggers’ integrated rare-earth magnets. For this deployment, they did not need a current transformer, since turning on the motor creates a magnetic field. Monitoring this magnetic field determined on/off cycles and run times.

To log zone temperatures, the engineers attached additional HOBO U12 loggers discreetly in office areas. They attached data loggers to metal ceiling vents with the self-adhesive magnetized rubber strips that came with the devices. Engineers set these data loggers to record every fifteen minutes to monitor realized temperatures and setbacks.


After charting and studying temperature data, Kilawatt engineers learned that the boiler fires at full power when outdoor ambient temperatures are as high as 60°F. Furthermore, amperage data led to the discovery that the cooling tower runs during the same time intervals as the boiler. This was understood to be due to the loop overheating. The data also showed that:

  • Heat pumps and circulation pumps run during nights and weekends when the facility is unoccupied.
  • Temperatures in office areas do not coincide with thermostat settings.
  • CO2 spikes when the building is occupied, indicating poor ventilation.
  • Loop motors, the facility’s largest point load, run during nights and weekends when the building is unoccupied. These 2-horsepower motors consume 13,000 kilowatt hours per year.
  • Heat migration from the boiler is substantial enough to heat the facility.


Read the rest of the blog by Onset Computer


Energy Efficiency Markets Member blog from Conservation Services Group


Few ideas in this world are without controversy. Energy, in particular, is prone to disagreement, whether it’s extending a pipeline, fracking for natural gas or developing a wind farm. These issues get all the attention, but it is energy efficiency that stirs the least dissension on both sides of the aisle and should get more glory. It is still the quickest, least expensive and easiest way to keep our air cleaner, our citizens healthier and put more money in our pockets. In good times and in bad times, in a Democratic or Republican administration, saving energy is the one solution we can all agree on.


Polices promoting efficiency have been working in Massachusetts, but success did not happen overnight. Groundbreaking ideas that germinated more than two decades ago have blossomed. The Bay State is now ranked number one in the country for energy efficiency. If we keep on this path, we will reap even more rewards in the future.


Twenty-five years ago this July, a trail blazing and provocative report was issued by the New England Energy Policy Council that paved the way for energy efficiency and predicted its enormous potential. “Power to Spare” analyzed how the use of “negawatts” (a phrase Scientist Amory Lovins had recently coined), could significantly reduce energy costs and environmental damage without hurting economic growth.


Read the rest of the blog at the Boston Globe


By David Pospisil
Guest Blogger, Energy Efficiency Markets
July 11, 2012


Making schools energy efficient need not be an exercise in sacrifice. Schools can get the same or better services, as well as increase the health and comfort of students and staff, all while using less energy.


The first step is to get an energy assessment that can help identify and prioritize opportunities for substantial energy and operational savings. Once these opportunities are identified, a school can develop a customized plan to reduce energy use, replacement and operating costs, and their carbon footprint. Common energy-saving measures for schools include installing high-efficiency lighting and lighting controls; heating, cooling and ventilation equipment; and motors, controls and variable frequency drives.


Incentives from government and/or utility-based programs may be available to help pay for the cost of an energy audit and/or energy efficiency upgrades. These rebates and incentives help schools lower the capital investment required to implement energy-saving strategies and technologies, as well as provide an attractive return on investment and payback due to savings on maintenance and energy costs.


In New York City and Westchester County, for example, schools with a Con Edison electric or natural gas account may be eligible for the following incentives from Con Edison’s Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program:

  • Payment of up to 50% of costs, with a cap of $67,000, for a Level 3 energy audit
  • Rebates for high-efficiency electric and gas equipment including lighting fixtures and LED exit signs, packaged heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, motors, chillers, and water and steam boilers
  • Performance-based custom incentives for installing high-efficiency equipment or energy-saving solutions not eligible for equipment rebates


Check to see what funding may be available in your area.

The Con Edison Green Team has an energy efficiency program available for almost every customer. To learn which program is right for you, call the Green Team at 1-877-860-6118 or visit


David Pospisil is Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y. You can join the discussion on LinkedIn (Con-Edison-Commercial-Industrial), Facebook (ConEd Green Team C&I), Twitter (ConEd Green Team C&I) and YouTube (ConEd Green Team C&I).


By John A. “Skip” Laitner


I’ve long had a tradition of taking time on July 4th to reflect on our State of the Union.  In past years, for example, I’ve read Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States.  It’s a very good book with an entirely different perspective on the historical development of our nation.  Zinn provides us, as educator Kathy Emery suggests, with a sense of “the human impact, the human cost of decisions made by politicians and businessmen.” I highly recommend it to everyone within our policy community. And this year, perhaps for obvious reasons, I decided to focus on the court case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. This, of course, refers to the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare.


There is a lot to study in the 193 pages that form the opinions found in this decision.  Yes, a lot to read, and I have not done so.  Instead, I’ve read a series of Op Eds by David Brooks, Paul Krugman, Linda Greenhouse (who reported on the U.S. Supreme Court for The New York Times from 1978 to 2008), Steve Chapman (a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board), and  Richard W. Garnett (University of Notre Dame law professor who clerked for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist). Among others.  And more critically, I’ve read what I can of those various opinions to see how the Supreme Court decision might shape future policies and legislation about energy efficiency and climate policies.  Right away I conclude that we have a problem.


The five national telephone surveys done immediately following the decision found Americans as divided as ever on Obamacare.  Despite the large number of clear winners (with few losers as Krugman suggests), the Supreme Court’s ruling seems to assure that the debate surrounding the law will rage on for the foreseeable future.  And how is it, we may ask, that this does not bode well for energy efficiency and climate change policies?  The reasons are two-fold: First, the decision restrains the power of the federal government to sanction the states.  And, perhaps most important, it appears to restrain future Congressional power.  Second, it has inflamed conservatives disappointed by the ruling, but who are delighted with the language on the commerce clause.  If we think about it, a good bit of the policies that we advocate rely on the commerce clause.


As David Brooks writes, “over the years, the commerce clause in the Constitution has been distorted beyond recognition, giving Congress power to regulate all manner of activity (or inactivity). [Chief Justice Roberts and the decision] redefined the commerce clause in a way that limits the power of Washington. Congress is now going to have to be very careful when it tries to use the tax code and other measures to delve into areas that have, until now, been beyond its domain.” That argument, and now a supreme court interpretation, may eventually impact everything from food and product safety to energy efficiency performance standards – or at least make it that much harder for us to advocate broad policies promoting energy efficiency at the scale necessary to enhance our economy and protect both climate and the environment.


As a result of this decision we have an unexpected outcome – that the interpretation of the Constitution may play a much more prominent role in shaping all future domestic policies.  It will be even harder to pass smart legislation. Law Professor Richard Garnett writes: “We confront, as a political community, many pressing challenges, and it is easy — too easy — to think that what matters most is that good policies are enacted, now, and ‘by any means necessary.’ But our Constitution has a lot more to say about how decisions are made than about which decisions are made.”


What might be the implications of all this?  The word ‘government’ comes from the word ‘governance’ that, in turn, derives from the Greek verb kubernáo which means to steer or navigate. If we really believe in the economic imperative of energy efficiency then we may need to actively explore new mechanisms of governance – including incentives as technology prizes, real and meaningful feedback, and well beyond Nudge, the shifting of our norms, our behavior and our culture at scale and in China time. Yes, we absolutely must use various forms of government to ensure our social and economic well-being, but we also must learn to steer in many other ways.  We cannot do this merely by laying out the idea of cost-effectiveness. We must look at the problem anew. We must be willing to explore the human condition in new ways and examine how it is that people and societies might shift from the old 19th century paradigm of energy supply to a more appropriate paradigm that embraces the appropriate and sustainable use of energy, water, and resources.


How to follow up on this outcome? My thought is that ACEEE and others develop a new set of governing principles and model legislation that relies less on conventional governmental solutions and more on new ways to promote energy efficiency at scale.  If we really value the work we all do, and if we really believe in the vital contribution of energy efficiency, I then suggest the policy community develop the equivalent of a War Room strategy (perhaps framed differently). The strategy should anticipate and articulate the need for a dramatically different approach to ‘governance’ (not just government) than we have traditionally followed. If neither ACEEE nor others are successful in that respect, then to paraphrase Tom Friedman, we are all in for a hard decade that will lead to a bad century. Yes, I think it is that critical.


John A. “Skip” Laitner

Energy and Resource Economist

Tucson, Arizona

See The Desert Year More By Waste Than Ingenuity?


This blog post does not reflect the official opinion or views of ACEEE, its board or its staff.