As any hiring manager can tell you, job growth has expanded exponentially over much of the US economy during the last few months; clean energy is no exception. Recent data from the non-partisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs demonstrates that clean energy jobs are not only growing with the rest of the economy, but are actually leading the way in many areas surveyed in the latest US Energy and Employment Report, or USEER. The following highlights from the USEER demonstrate the robust state of the clean job market.
To start, the table below provides a useful summary of the clean job market as a whole. Worker numbers, broken down into subcategories, are:
1. Energy efficiency: 2.25 million
2. Solar: 349,000
3. Clean Vehicle: 220,000
4. Wind: 107,000
5. Energy Storage: 91,000
The USEER showed that the energy sector, which includes generation, transmission, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels subcategories, added 162,000 jobs in 2017. Also, clean jobs in the energy efficiency subcategory led the way with 67,000 additional jobs. Locally, Ohio added 8,092 jobs in solar, 1,764 jobs in energy storage, and 483 jobs in smart grid related industries.
Somewhat alarmingly for clean job employers, the report indicates an increase in the skills gap to 83% in energy efficient construction. The skills gap is a measure indicating a shortage of skills desired by employers to those available from prospective employees. The gap indications are not all negative, however. It is likely that the gap indicates a stronger demand for energy efficient buildings and structures. In other words, demand for energy efficiency is strong.
While most of the report is positive, some subcategories saw a decline in the number of jobs in 2017. Solar jobs fell 6% and, despite an increase demand for alternative fuel vehicles of 25%, that sector saw a drop in employment as well. However, strong demand for clean energy is expected to continue throughout 2018. In the energy sector as a whole, the job growth rate is predicted to be 6.1%. Solar energy jobs are expected to grow 5%, and jobs in energy efficient construction and manufacturing are predicted to grow at 9%. While positive growth is expected as a whole, the wind energy sector may be affected by the recent import tariff on aluminum and steel.
If the previous statistics haven’t made it clear, the hottest clean job sector is energy efficiency. To put it in some context, the USEER stated that it would take every worker currently employed in energy efficiency one year to upgrade 10% of the available residential buildings in the US. Continued new construction, existing building renovation, and stricter energy code requirements will all contribute to the demand for more energy efficiency workers.
Job statistics can provide indications about a variety of economic aspects. For example, there is the raw data of the number of employees in a given job. Generally speaking, the number of employees in a job indicates the demand for the associated good or service. In the case of clean jobs, it is clear that there is a demand for energy efficiency. The prediction of an increase in the number of jobs is also positive. Economists believe that there will be an increase in renewable energy demand, as indicated by the 5% growth forecast.
Clean energy is important to consumers, and the USEER data supports that claim. Beyond its positive environmental impact, clean energy is economical, sustainable, and a smart business choice whether you are in the private or public domain. Energy efficiency can be especially beneficial for local governments, school systems, and other public domains where budgets are constrained. Learn more about energy efficiency and how it can help you.
School budgets are tight. Even though there is a national conversation about how to reduce overspending in education, that accusation is more focused on the direct education costs: textbooks, new computers, curriculum programs, and financial incentives for good test scores. The tests themselves are almost prohibitively expensive. But the conversation rarely makes it the infrastructural behemoth that schools are underneath all of the learning tools. Lighting, heating, and plumbing demands shouldn’t be swept under the rug when something goes drastically wrong like in Baltimore earlier this year.
The best way to resolve overspending on utilities isn’t to cut the budget or make do with old equipment. Upgrading your existing systems and investing in technology for reducing annual expenditures overall is far better. It protects against system breakdowns and creates more efficient systems over time. But if your district can only afford a few upgrades this year, here are the best places to start if you want to save on lighting:
LED light bulbs are the best option for long-term lighting, both for the actual quality of light and reducing maintenance costs. Traditional light bulbs only last a fraction of the time. That means your district has to pay for replacement parts and maintenance services, especially in high-use rooms. Traditional lights also use more electricity for the less than optimal lighting; even if schools try to implement energy monitoring policies and keep the lights turned off when they’re not in use.
But a conversion to LED bulbs isn’t a switch you can implement room by room. LEDs are more expensive per unit than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. The best way to reduce the initial increase in spending is to buy in bulk and spread the costs over your district. Manufacturers and suppliers will be willing to negotiate their rates for both larger deals and state-funded contracts that are likely to become permanent fixtures.
Unfortunately, energy efficiency isn’t a popular argument for increasing budgets, no matter what the political climate is like. But LEDs bring more than reduced energy usage and longer-lasting bulbs to the table. The lighting they produce is also better for concentration. The effect of LEDs has primarily been studied in office buildings, but the results are fairly standard. LEDs with a daylight level of brightness can actually duplicate the health benefits of sunlight exposure. These include:
LEDs can help combat a lot of the mental fatigue students have. These three benefits of reducing maintenance costs, reducing electrical waste, and providing health benefits, are each great reasons to try an experimental conversion.
If your schools focus on teaching students to make a habit out of turning off the lights, that’s a great start. But it’s not fool-proof. People eager to leave the building for the weekend might forget to double-check the lights. Rarely used auditoriums and extra classrooms might have the lights on for weeks or months before the next group books the space.
But adding sensors that power down the lights after periods without motion are the answer. Sensors won’t break the budget, but adding one to every room and hallway might not be immediately possible. Instead, add them to the rooms where they can make the greatest difference and bring the results to next year’s budget meeting.
Every change your school district makes to reduce electricity usage is good for the environment and for your area’s spending. Even more importantly, it can help students focus better. Go to Energy Optimizers for more ways to get started.
Today Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and Clean Energy Trust (CET) released this year’s Clean Jobs Midwest report! Clean Jobs Midwest is a survey of clean energy employment in 12 Midwestern states.
The report verifies that clean energy is a vital employer in the region – employing over 700,000 people in the Midwest. These are people going to work every day installing solar panels atop homes and commercial buildings, manufacturing wind turbines, and making our homes schools and offices more energy efficient.
We felt that you’d be interested in seeing some key findings in Ohio and sharing these with your networks.
Also, the CleanJobsMidwest.org interactive website is now live! The site includes narrative information about the region’s clean energy jobs, jobs data down to the county and state legislative district level, interactive maps, and collateral materials available for download. You can read more about Ohio here.
Ohio Key findings
Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article about company energy policies when it comes to on-grid net-metering. Last time we talked about the real costs associated with connecting your solar panels to the grid; and how energy companies control what you earn back per watt-hour. And how it’s not always actually equally balanced with what you pay them for power. We also discussed how solar credit policy is changing in Nevada, — not for the benefit of private solar panel owners. Let’s pick up where we left off at Florida’s recent policy decisions on solar crediting.
Around the same time, Florida was facing a utility-funded amendment that would give their energy companies similar freedom to penalize solar panel owners, paired with the juicy offer of allowing solar panel leasing in the state which had previously been prohibited. Fortunately, voters dodged that bullet and chose to support another amendment providing a tax credit for solar panel owners instead. This is good news; it’s also evidence that the utility companies are on the defensive. They aren’t going to stop looking for ways to get their monopoly back from independent solar panel users.
These two incidents together begin to form a pattern; it shows that solar supporters need to be on the lookout. Specifically, for more sneaky bills, amendments, and solar credit policy changes. These changes might significantly change the financial landscape to favor the energy companies; rather than incentivize or even fairly compensate renewable energy generation.
Among the problems between energy companies and solar power, there is actually an interesting alternative for businesses and communities. Rather than relying on or even working with the public power grid, your business or community can build your own micro-grid and simply share your solar power through this method.
The micro-grid can still connect to the main grid for emergencies. But why not pool your renewable resources in a way that keeps all that solar wear and tear off the power company’s precious wires and still allows you to benefit from it. Combined with a few big batteries for rainy days, your power solution becomes more robust, versatile, sustainable, and affordable; rather than simply relying on the grid and sharing your solar bounty with the power company.
If you do live on the main grid with a few solar panels, it’s worth your while to keep an eye on local solar credit policy. The utility companies in most states have been cool so far. But at any moment, they might decide the costs are too high; they’d pay for an amendment or solar credit policy change which will turn the tables in their favor. It’s up to the solar community to prevent these changes; to keep the country moving forward to renewable energy solutions rather than backward into the fossil fuel monopoly.
Talk to your friends about local solar credit policy. If you live among many other solar owners, talk to your neighbors about building a micro-grid for the neighborhood. You can all share solar energy without inconveniencing your local power company. Make sure you are familiar with the laws, regulations, and taxes (or tax breaks) in your state before making a decision on where, when, and how to invest in solar panels. In many cases, a micro-grid will provide you with a more robust sustainable energy solution, especially when combined with a bank of batteries big enough to ride your business through a public-grid power outage.
There are many forms of energy efficiency, from turning off lights to installing solar panels and every business is deciding for themselves based on budget and opportunity how far to go. For more information about the right energy efficiency solutions for your business, contact us today!
Thousands of companies and homeowners across the country have been buying or leasing solar panels in an effort to reduce their energy bills and reliance on fossil fuel-based electricity. Admittedly, it feels pretty good to be pulling raw power straight out of the freely available sunshine. But of course for most people installing solar panels is as much a financial decision as an ecological one. The vast majority of states have a solar credit program, which allows you to keep your building hooked up to the public grid, ensuring that your lights stay on even on cloudy days, but credit your power bill for every kilowatt of solar you produce and share with your local energy grid. This is a pretty good deal. You never have to run out of power, but still get that nice reduction in your power bill every month.
However, storm clouds are on the horizon for many of these happy solar panel owners. The power companies, once happy enough to participate in the solar credit program, are starting to see exactly how much revenue they could lose from miles of solar panels distributed throughout the cities and countryside. Rethinking solar credit system, these utility companies have begun lobbying states for the right to change the economic balance. Unfortunately the sunniest states in the country are starting to give way.
You may be wondering exactly what the power companies have to complain about. After all, you’re generating your own energy and reducing the amount they have to provide to your community. So what exactly are they losing? What we’re all missing is actually the wear and tear on the infrastructure itself. We often forget that wires experience wear and tear just like every other part of an electrical system. And the grid itself requires establishment and maintenance. The utility companies built the grid and maintain it to ensure we all get power whenever we need it. Like a toll road, our power bills are more than just a metered cost of electricity. They are also paying for the grid infrastructure and the work the power companies do to take care of it.
Power companies are therefore arguing that solar panel users are still putting their share of wear and tear on the grid, possibly even more than most buildings, and they should be allowed to charge for that. When someone generates enough solar to reduce their bill to zero, the companies don’t get their grid use ‘toll’ money. And they want to change that.
The proposed solution, one that is already been enacted in Nevada, is to allow energy companies two ways to take a bite out of private solar panel owners. First, they may be allowed to charge a flat monthly fee to all solar users to use the grid. Second, they plan to reduce the amount credited for each kilowatt of solar from full market value (what they charge for their power) to a third or less. Officially, the energy companies aim merely to ensure that non-solar owners don’t have to pay extra for grid maintenance, while solar owners’ bills are reduced to zero. What’s already happened in Nevada suggests that this power can and will be quickly abused.
One of the sunniest states in America, Nevada would seem like the perfect place to set up your solar farm. After all, the sun shines constantly, and the heat is considerable. In most of Nevada, there’s very little in the way of other buildings to block your sunlight. Initially, solar owners and leasers were incentivized to invest and build. They were offered full market value on any power they generated and dumped onto the grid. However, in what solar companies are calling an unprecedented bait and switch, last year they changed the policy to allow NV Energy, the state’s only power company, permission to charge higher rates and fees to solar panel owners.
The real problem is how the math shakes out. Their monthly fee, which used to be $12 will be raised to $40 over the next four years. This alone might have been okay, but they are also reducing the solar credit from full market value at 13 cents down to a meager 2.8 cents per kilowatt. For those of you who are familiar with solar credit math, this completely eliminates any financial benefit of having solar power in Nevada and worse, in many cases, it will make it more costly than simply living off the grid. And, of course, they’re still selling the solar-generated power at the original 13 cents and pocketing the difference.
Choosing when to get solar panels installed and which power companies to work with is an important decision to make before investing. Join us next time for the second half of this two-part article. We’ll talk about recent changes in Florida’s solar policies and off-grid options that dodge the power companies entirely. For more information on business energy efficiency, contact us today!
Tipp City, Ohio (June 19, 2018)—Tipp City Schools will make strategic investments in LT Ball Intermediate School, Tippecanoe Middle School and Tippecanoe High School that are expected to save more than $73,000 annually through a partnership with Tipp City-based Energy Optimizers, USA.
The comprehensive improvements are designed to enhance energy efficiency, prolong the life of the buildings and improve safety. Starting in June, Energy Optimizers, USA, will:
The upgrade to LED lighting is expected to save the district more than $61,000 in electricity use and more than $12,000 in maintenance costs. LED lighting uses an average of 60 percent less energy and lasts five times longer than the replaced systems. In addition to offering immediate savings, LED lighting will result in better-lit environments that are more conducive to learning. The lighting also does not have the hum and flicker associated with fluorescent lighting, making it an ideal system for special needs classrooms.
“We have been taking a hard look with our community about how we can best plan, invest in and preserve our facilities,” said Superintendent Dr. Gretta Kumpf. “Energy Optimizers, USA, presented us with very smart, very conservative options to get more from our intermediate and middle schools while improving our energy efficiency.”
Tippecanoe Middle School students have also invested in improving the district’s sustainability practices. The students have worked with community partners to evaluate and improve the district’s water and energy use, waste, and student well-being. Students presented their options to the district Board of Education in May.
“We are proud to assist our hometown schools with making common sense, energy-efficient measures to ensure their intermediate and middle school buildings run in top shape for years to come,” said Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers, USA, president. “In making these improvements, the district is demonstrating that its focus is on the best, most cost-effective use of resources, both regarding energy conservation and taxpayer dollars.”
Trees are one of the oldest forms of life on our planet. They have an incredibly sustainable lifecycle of growth, reaching for optimal sun-catching branches and stretching their roots down to water sources below. Trees turn soil nutrients into fresh air, wood, and often edible leaves. They serve as homes for thousands of types of other plants and animals. Trees are fantastic for the environment and the ecosystem around them, but why should you plant trees around your school?
It’s true that deciding to plant trees is a fairly large commitment. It’s also one of the best things you can do to provide shade for the kids and produce oxygen. Trees also help the school’s energy bill as well. Just as the roots extend into the ground, holding the soil together and spreading nutrients, the branches extend over the walls and roof of your school creating cool natural shade. That shade is just as good for your old buildings as it is for the children.
Schools are built to withstand the weather for decades as long as they are properly maintained. But most administrators never think about the fact that schools are built to withstand sunlight just as much as they need to resist leaking in the rain or drafts in the cold. The way the roof is built, the materials for exterior siding, even the paint on your gutters is optimized to resist sunlight, but it only does so much. Have you ever seen a sagging sun-bleached abandoned home? Then you’ve seen the extreme result of what the sun does little by little each day to a structure. It’s a big part of why we have to maintain buildings so carefully.
How much you spend on cooling your school each year depends a lot on the weather and, most of all, your exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, schools tend to be big, flat sponges for hot sunlight, warming up the entier building. You may be familiar with the idea that your AC works harder on hot days. But you may not have realized what a big part trees play in this equation. On cloudy days, for example, you will use less electricity to maintain the same thermostat setting. Trees, when they grow over your school, are like clouds. They form a semi-permeable barrier between you and the sun. It is literally several degrees cooler in the shade. Therefore, your school building is experiencing the day as several degrees cooler as well. Every day that you have a shady tree protecting your facilities, you’ll use less electricity to keep the staff and students comfortably cool.
If you’re one of the few schools already mounting solar panels, congratulations on reaching the cutting-edge of energy efficiency. For everyone else still saving up for that perfect solar setup, at least some of your daily power comes from nuclear, fossil fuels, and/or coal unless you live in a very renewable-heavy region. This means that the less energy you use daily to cool the schools, the fewer of these inadvisable resources need to be burned to meet the community’s energy needs.
Planting trees can absolutely improve the environment, and in more ways than you might have expected. They turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, firming your soil, and filtering water through the bark. They also reduce the amount of coal and fossil fuels need to be burned. The more trees you have in your neighborhood creating oxygen and shading buildings, the more efficient your entire area becomes. Not sure what kind of tree you want to plant? We suggest doing a little research on what you’d like to see on your grounds and what your property will support before you buy a new sapling. Enjoy your trees!
For more interesting school energy efficiency tips, contact us today!
TIPP CITY, Ohio, June 4, 2018 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — The City of Vandalia is taking steps to improve energy efficiency—and reduce its utility bills by an anticipated $12,000 a year—by upgrading its lighting systems in partnership with Energy Optimizers, USA.
Starting in June, Energy Optimizers, USA, will retrofit interior and exterior lighting systems at the city’s municipal building and Fire Station #2 with LED systems. LED lighting uses an average of 60 percent less energy and lasts five times longer than the systems being replaced, offering an immediate return on investment that will continue paying off for years to come. The project is also expected to qualify for a rebate of nearly $11,000 from DP&L.
“In our community, we constantly strive to add value for our residents and taxpayers,” said Steve Clark, Director of Parks and Recreation. “Our partnership with Energy Optimizers, USA, will enable us to save dollars, vastly improve the quality of lighting in these buildings and enhance security, all while conserving our natural resources.”
The upgrade will be a welcome change for the firefighters who spend long hours in the station. That’s because LED lighting offers a quality of light that is very close to natural sunlight, which creates better-lit and more comfortable environments.
“Vandalia is consistently on the leading edge when it comes to forward-thinking and smart resource use,” said Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers, USA, president. “By upgrading their lighting systems, the city’s administration and council are investing taxpayer dollars in proven, cost-effective solutions that enhance their public facilities.”
About Energy Optimizers, USA
Energy Optimizers, USA works with educational, governmental, commercial and industrial customers to implement energy savings opportunities to reduce operational costs, including lighting retrofits, renewable energy projects (wind and solar), HVAC retrofit projects, building automation retrofits and energy education programs. The company was named to the INC. Magazine Top 500 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. (2014), was named the Fastest Growing Company in the region for two consecutive years by the Dayton Business Journal (2013, 2014), and was named a finalist in the Dayton Business Journal Best Places To Work competition in 2016.
Two and a half months and 600 bulbs later, brighter days are ahead at Clark State Community College’s Springfield campus.
Clark State recently partnered with Energy Optimizers out of Troy to install LED lights inside and outside of Shull Hall, one of the campus’ buildings.
LED (light emitting diode) products produce light approximately 90 percent more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs.
The college noted the change will improve the classroom experience while being environmentally friendly.
There are a number of smart IoT (Internet of Things) sensors that can be incorporated into your energy saving smart system, each of them with their own set of pros and cons allowing you to choose or combine them for the best use in your institution. Because working in an office-like setting often involves holding still for long periods of time, motion sensors are mostly useful in hallways, however, they can also be placed at doors to keep a count on the number of people who have entered or left a building or floor. Heat sensors, on the other hand, are able to track the heat signatures of even stationary people who could be grading papers or taking tests but the sensors.
Of course, for everyone with an employee badge, IoT has yet another solution. Badges that emit a small signal can tell you exactly where each staff member or visitor is in the building. With this setup, all you need are sensors that can detect the badges themselves in order to create programs that are both cool and energy efficient like light groups that turn on and off as employees move through the building or doors that only unlock for authorized badges. Even your HVAC system can become absolutely responsive, switching itself on when an employee remains on a floor for more than ten minutes or, alternatively, at the press of a button for those with authorized access. With IoT badges, you can not only track the comings and goings of known staff members but the locations of visitors and maybe even students as well.
Of course, the lights and HVAC system aren’t the only power consumers in your company, just the most profound. Everything from the coffee pot in the teacher’s lounge to the industrial-sized printers could be creating undetected energy drains that, combined, could significantly contribute to your energy costs. Fortunately, the IoT has yet another answer. Small sensors that can be clipped onto power cords can not only give you a live feed on appliance energy consumption, they can also be used to remotely switch these items on and off in the same way the lights and the HVAC system work, allowing you to save energy by turning off your appliances without having to walk from room to room hitting dozens of individual switches.
Whether you choose to control each light and appliance individually or group them into easy-to-control room units, IoT remote control is the new wave of energy efficiency through ultimate responsiveness. You can monitor their consumption, control them by hand, or allow the sensors to do their thing and turn everything on and off when approached or left by active employees. This means no more lights on over the weekend, no more wasted heating or cooling when nobody is in the building, and no more well-meaning but inconvenient timer systems. When every power switch from the lights to the classroom projectors can be controlled from a central location, mobile devices, and by local sensors, you’ll forget to even consider your light switches until the next significantly lighter power bill comes in.
While the IoT revolution may have come about in an effort to create a world of convenience, it has achieved something much more impactful. Through the simple act of remote control, grouping, and programmable responsiveness, incorporating IoT sensors and control into your school lights, HVAC, and appliances you have the opportunity to save energy both in large blocks and from moment to moment as items turn themselves off when floors and even individual rooms go temporarily out of use.
For more interesting, useful, and innovative advice or a consultation on viable energy efficient strategies for your school, contact us today!