Articles

Fourth annual Professional Engineers Day!

Celebrate Licensure and the Profession with PEs Around the World on August 7, 2019 for the fourth annual Professional Engineers Day!

Become a PE Day Advocate!

Along with other planned PE Day activities, NSPE members will have the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress to promote the value of engineering and voice support for a federal bill.
» Learn more and register.

On August 8, 1907, the first professional engineering license was issued to Charles Bellamy in Wyoming. Since that time, licensure has expanded and professional engineers across the U.S. have made the commitment to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. NSPE is celebrating licensed professional engineers with the fourth annual Professional Engineers Day on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. Join us as we raise awareness about what it means to be a PE, recognize licensed PEs, and show appreciation for the work they do each and every day.

Be a part of the virtual event on August 7, 2019!

Use #LicensedPEday on   Twitter,   Facebook,   Instagram, or LinkedIn to:

  • Upload a photo or video of yourself, tell us why you decided to become a PE
  • Post photos or videos of your team of PEs
  • Share your reasons for hiring PEs
  • Give special recognition to your PEs in the workplace or on the job
  • Educate your colleagues about the importance of the PE license

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Support the Expansion of Duke Energy's Residential New Construction Incentive

Ask the NC Utilities Commission to Support the Expansion of Duke Energy's Residential New Construction Incentive Program to the Carolinas Territory!

Speak out in support of energy savings and green building!

Duke Energy currently offers a wildly successful Residential New Construction Program in its Progress territory that has resulted in a wealth of energy savings and environmental benefits for several years. The program continues to help builders, contractors and homeowners participate in energy efficient construction by providing a cash rebate to builders that construct to above-code energy standards.

But, the program isn’t available in Duke Energy’s Carolinas territory, which includes Charlotte and many other highly populated areas across central and western North Carolina. Unfortunately, Duke Energy isn’t able to expand the program on their own due to issues with the natural gas utility industry.
This is where you come in!

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Help expand this program by submitting online comments to the NC Utilities Commission encouraging them to take action! This is a quick and simple process. All you need to do is submit your comments on the Commission’s website. After you do, share them with your professional network and encourage others to participate!

Helpful resources including sample comment language, graphics that you can use on social media, hard data on the program’s impact and more are available below.

Have questions? Contact NCBPA’s Ryan Miller at [email protected] or 919-521-3385.

RESOURCES TO USE:

Sample Language to Use:

Ratepayer/Industry Professional: As a ratepayer and building industry professional, I cannot stress enough how much Duke Energy Progress’ Residential New Construction Program has done to promote efficiency, save money, and reduce greenhouse gases in that territory. The incentive has produced quantifiable savings and our industry has seen firsthand more savings in the Progress territory, where the incentive has been in place for several years, versus the Carolinas territory where it is not available. Having the incentive available in the Carolinas territory would be good for residents of our state. I am asking the Commission to weigh in on Docket No E-7 Sub 1155 by directing Duke Energy and gas utility industry stakeholders to come up with a solution that will allow this incentive to be available for Duke Energy Carolinas customers. Thank you.

Graphics to Share on Social Media:

NCBPA Statement on HB330 “Efficient Government Buildings & Savings Act”

The North Carolina Building Performance Association (NCBPA) is deeply disappointed that Senate leadership decided last week to table the advancement of HB330, “Efficient Government Buildings & Savings Act,” for the 2019 legislative session. The bill had been on a clean pathway into law after passing the House 111-2 on April 3rd with strong bipartisan support from House and Senate leadership as well as private industry, the Governor’s office, many state agencies, and environmental advocates. 

Without HB330, North Carolina will fail to realize these vast economic development and environmental benefits:

  • $252 million in net taxpayer savings with no increase in state funding.
  • $1.1 billion in energy and water utility savings.
  • 3% reduction in the state’s total energy usage.
  • Employment opportunities for 4,000 North Carolinians.
  • Improved health, safety, durability, and productivity in state-owned school and office buildings.

“This unfortunate decision puts the brakes on the continuation of one of our state’s most cost-effective public-private programs, a program that has saved taxpayers more than $1.4 billion since launching in 2003,” said Ryan Miller, NCBPA’s Founder, Executive Director, and principal lobbyist.  “Even with all of those savings, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) estimates that an additional $1.1 billion in savings are available. Why wouldn’t we extend such a proven, cost-effective, and impactful program?”

Energy Efficiency is the Nonpartisan Foundation of Clean Energy

The state’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting program (GESPC) has been supported by both sides of the aisle for so many years because of the incredible return on investment it provides. Taxpayers save money, agencies and institutions address critical repair and maintenance needs, and occupants are happier and more productive. The program drives economic development and environmental benefits in ways that few, if any, other state programs can.  And it does so without costing the state any new monies or resources.

While many clean energy topics are ripe for partisan politicking in North Carolina, energy efficiency is not. Operating under both Republican and Democrat Governors in 2016 and 2018 respectively, the governor-appointed Energy Policy Council recommended 10% increases to energy and water savings goals in state-owned buildings in its most recent two Biennial Reports to the General Assembly.  These are the same increases found in HB330 and the governor’s recent Executive Order #80.

“In addition to being a nonpartisan issue, the great thing about investing in energy efficiency is that it’s the foundation for meeting all clean energy, renewable energy, carbon emission, electric vehicle, and energy storage goals,” said Miller. “Buildings account for nearly 60% of our state’s energy usage and are the most significant contributor of carbon emissions. Clean energy and climate goals are achieved more quickly and more cost-effectively by addressing energy efficiency first.” 

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is one of two consulting firms currently working on the state’s new Clean Energy Plan, set to be delivered to the governor by October 1 of this year. Research by RMI indicates that building improvements like the ones proposed in HB330 are critical for energy planning: “The most cost-effective way to address the increased energy demands presented by the EV (electric vehicle) revolution is by improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Compared to constructing new-generation infrastructure — even from renewable resources — retrofitting existing buildings represents the lowest-cost option for meeting future energy needs.” 

In fact, the International Energy Agency reports that buildings represent 28% of global carbon emissions with two-thirds coming from rapidly growing electricity usage, including from electric vehicle charging stations. The agency recommends increased policy intervention and financial investment in energy efficient, high performance, and sustainable buildings, in which carbon reductions are realized faster than any other contributing sector.

Beneficial Energy Efficiency Policies Continue to be Ignored

In the past 26 years, just two significant energy efficiency policies have passed the state’s legislature: in 2003, the original bill related to HB330 and in 2007, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), each of which garnered bipartisan support for their economic and environmental benefits. Recently however, win-win energy efficiency policies have been passed over by the General Assembly and key clean energy advocates in favor of highly politicized and less impactful (by energy volume) opportunities in solar, wind, electric vehicles, and energy storage.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to accelerate clean energy adoption in North Carolina by first reducing our state’s energy usage by 16.8% through building energy efficiency,” said Miller, citing a 2018 report from the association. “But it’s not just our legislature that needs to take action on prioritizing energy efficiency. Many clean energy advocates continue to ignore energy efficiency even though it’s North Carolina’s largest clean energy sector by revenue, companies, and jobs.”

Two years ago, North Carolina clean energy advocates passed on the opportunity to incorporate this same legislation in HB589. Advocates regarded HB589 as an “omnibus clean energy bill” despite it having no mention of energy efficiency. In the current legislative session, the same group of advocates successfully lobbied for the advancement of three clean energy bills. Those bills were combined into one by the Senate and, again, touted as “omnibus clean energy” legislation in spite of the total omission of energy efficiency policies like HB330. 

“North Carolina’s clean energy advocates need to understand that energy efficiency helps meet their renewable energy and climate goals faster and cheaper. Energy efficiency is the first option to achieving all of our interests,” said Miller. “Instead of filling the leaky bucket with more water, fix the leak.  It’s that simple.”

Next Steps on This Important Legislation

Despite this setback, NCBPA will continue to lead industry advocacy and lobbying efforts to enact this legislation during the 2019 and, if necessary, the 2020 session. 

“The economic development opportunities as well as the environmental and many other benefits of this bill are too great to ignore,” said Miller. “This is a setback that will only compel our state’s energy efficiency industry to stronger advocacy and more decisive action and, hopefully, garner needed support from the broader clean energy community.”

Constituents are encouraged to contact their State Senator and clean energy advocacy groups and ask for their support of HB330 being heard in the Senate Rules Committee, a needed step to moving the bill forward in the current legislative session.

Author: Ryan Miller


copied from the NCBPA website

NC's Energy Code is Under Short and Long-Term Attacks

Author: Ryan Miller

Last August I wrote an article highlighting reasons for North Carolina to invest in stronger energy codes. This was just after the new 2018 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code was completed and, unfortunately, around the same time that some North Carolina groups decided to try to roll the brand new code back. More on that later, but first a little background.

Building codes are developed and evaluated through the International Code Council (ICC) to provide minimum standards of construction for building safety, fire prevention and energy efficiency  which also advocates for adoption and practice throughout the US and internationally. Adoption by individual states, however, is not compulsory. Energy codes have been part of the code picture since about 2004, and the ICC makes extensive attempts to insert the latest research results into the codes. But make no mistake, codes are legislative laws, and because the building code affects a substantial portion of a jurisdiction’s economy, it is open to the same influences from lobbyists and special interests as any other piece of legislation (Rossberg and Leon, 2019)

This has been especially true in North Carolina where newly-adopted energy codes have come under continuous attacks.  Last month, legislation passed the House that would require a laborious cost-benefit analysis on energy code provisions retroactive to January 1 of 2018.  This effectively singles out energy code for unwarranted and duplicitous scrutiny – no other codes would fall under this new law, just energy – and challenges some highly regarded, state-supported fiscal analysis (like HUD and USDA) that already demonstrates cost benefits to builders as well as added long term value for homeowners through lower life cycle costs.

Plus North Carolina seems to be going against the International and National grain here. In fact, North Carolina is trending towards “seceding from the Codes Union”, and it’s a dangerous course that could leave us with substandard buildings and costly retrofits in the future.

The reasons for this trend are complex, but I’ll try to outline some of the core issues and what organizations like North Carolina Building Performance Association (NCBPA), where I serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, are doing to correct them.

In 2019, House Bill 675 sponsored by Rep. Mark Brody (R-55) was first introduced to require a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed changes to the NC Energy Code. It required the analysis to be based on a hypothetical five-year payback period as well as enumerate potential impacts on the energy efficiency of the entire built structure. This requirement set up a nearly impossible hurdle for any new energy codes, which seems to align with other legislative attempt to prevent even moderate improvements to energy efficiency, plus served to roll-back the mediocre standards North Carolina already has.  Thankfully, advocacy efforts led by NCBPA eliminated most of the incredibly restrictive and unrealistic language in the bill, but then it was replaced, in the new version of the bill that passed the House, with vague and likely impossible requirements.

The bill now requires the NC Building Code Council, comprised of 17 Governor appointees from the architecture, plumbing, general contracting and other industries, to not only create a new cost-benefit analytic methodology, but also use it to vet all energy code proposals going forward and, worse, retroactively to include any proposals since January 1 of 2018 whether they were approved or not.

As daunting a task as this would be for experts, in fact it will be nearly impossible in this case because there is no Energy professional on the Building Council. Alarmingly, just one Council member has any expertise, experience or credentials in energy efficiency, renewable energy or other type of sustainability profession, yet this Council will be developing and implementing a mandatory analysis of costs and benefits of efficiency, renewables and energy storage-focused building practices that will affect every home and building in North Carolina.

To address this shortcoming, NCBPA’s Executive Director and Principal Lobbyist Ryan Miller used this past legislative session to rally necessary legislative support and create a roadmap for establishing a new Energy seat on the Council. A voice of reason. Had his efforts not been intentionally suppressed, this may have added some confidence in the eventual Council results. But as it stands, my confidence is low that the energy codes will be of service to North Carolinians.  

Opposition to stronger codes is, I believe, a result of false beliefs and fear. One of the biggest falsities about energy codes in North Carolina is that stricter codes mean higher costs. As a Builder, I agree that the concerns echoed at the local, state and national association levels that link a lack of skilled labor to higher overall costs and reduced housing affordability are true.  I see it every day in my work.  However, where reality differs from advocacy campaigns is in the home building industry’s position that diligent energy codes exacerbate affordability problems. Builders like myself and organizations like NCBPA know that lower utility bills improve affordability by lowering life cycle costs and expenses. The ICC has a position paper (referenced above) that concurs. In fact, many lenders provide incentives for homeowners to choose energy efficient homes, such as lower interest rates or reduced down payments, because underwriters factor in the lower monthly costs of ownership. 

Need more proof?  When the NC Department of Insurance completed their required Fiscal Analysis of the (now altered) newly proposed energy code, they noted that higher energy efficiency requirements would yield $8 – $10 per month in savings for homeowners at a cost of $1 – $3 per month in mortgage costs.

But North Carolina’s Building Code Council did not pass that code. And now, North Carolina’s new 2018 Energy Conservation Codes, both for residential and commercial buildings, are so “cherry picked” that the Department of Energy won’t provide us with the standard compliance systems, REScheck and COMcheck, to verify compliance for lenders, builders, code officials, or homeowners. This is bad.

To make matters worse, one NC Building Code Council member, who happens to be the most recent Board President of NCHBA, is drafting code proposals to roll-back the minimum insulation values for homes in the climate zone where he builds, Charlotte. Less insulation? Really?

As if this all wasn’t bad enough, unfortunately the Code Council is often on the receiving end of even worse policy originating from higher up the food chain: the North Carolina General Assembly.  In these cases, the Council’s role is simply to apply the code legislation passed by the General Assembly with no vote and no opportunity for review.  The most egregious (and self-serving) example of this occurred in 2017 when a single legislator was able to change energy code to avoid having to apply it to her own personal home. That’s right, homes in North Carolina with attached garages no longer have to meet air barrier and energy efficiency standards that might protect occupants from the car exhaust, lawn chemicals, pool chemicals and other noxious airborne pollutants in the garage. The code change, eliminated with a stroke of a pen, removed the one building practice that kept pollutants from making their way into a child’s room above a garage, or from being sucked into a kitchen through a kitchen exhaust vent. Nice work. 

So, what can YOU do about all this?

  • As a consumer, let your elected officials know that responsible energy codes are important to our future – both for energy and non-energy reasons like health and safety.  Building Code Council appointments are made by the Governor – let their office know that you want great support for energy codes!
  • As a builder, work through your local and state home builders associations to advocate for improved energy codes, not reduced.  The notion that small incremental increases to energy codes is creating housing affordability issues is wrong – it’s the exact opposite when we builders can best contribute to future monthly energy savings for our customers.

There is no reason that we have to sit back and watch North Carolina’s energy codes continue to deteriorate – at the expense of homeowners and renters – for political and profit reasons. 


copied from: http://buildingnc.org/2019/07/09/north-carolinas-energy-code-is-under-short-and-long-term-attacks/