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Better Buildings Challenge

APS selected as a Better Buildings Challenge Partner

In May 2015, APS was invited to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge (BBC) as a Partner in the national program. Generally, would-be Partners apply to the program in hopes of being selected. However, the BBC sought out APS after the Kentucky State Department of Energy forwarded them a summary of APS’ WECC program which had been written by the WECC Manager. (APS’ Energy Conservation Program is actually modeled after that of Kentucky’s schools, where they have successfully built the nation’s first ‘net zero’ public schools which produce more energy than they consume. The WECC Manager continues to correspond with Kentucky regularly.) APS is one of only a handful of K-12 public school districts in the nation to qualify and be selected to participate as a BBC Partner.

The Better Business Challenge, started in 2012, is a cornerstone of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, helping the nation to save money on energy and reduce carbon pollution. It is a voluntary leadership initiative that solicits the support of organization and business executives to make a public commitment to energy efficiency. Through the Better Business Challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is showcasing those entities that have demonstrated a commitment to upgrade their facilities in reducing energy consumption and a willingness to provide their energy savings data and strategies as models for others to follow.

The BBC was launched with the goal of making U.S. commercial buildings, industrial plants, governmental organizations (including education), and multifamily housing at least 20% more energy efficient over ten years. The energy to operate the buildings in which Americans work, shop, study, and live costs the U.S. an estimated $200 billion annually, and on average 30% of this energy is wasted. The energy used by U.S. manufacturing plants costs the nation an additional $180 billion annually, all the while energy efficiencies of 20% or more are possible in most cases, representing a savings of $45 billion a year!

The DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge online resource tool found at https://www4.eere.energy.gov/challenge/ assists businesses and organizations find energy conservation and efficiency solutions. Organized by topic, building type, solution type, building size, sector, technology, and location, the site is easy to navigate in obtaining helpful information specific to each organization’s profile. On the site, a diverse variety of selected BBC Partner businesses and organizations share their experiences and lessons in what it took to finance their building solutions, implement emerging technologies, build their team's energy expertise, motivate staff, get buy-in from management, and if applicable, establish community-wide initiatives. Currently, approximately 200 tested and proven solutions are featured and include energy efficiency strategies, showcase projects, and implementation models.

Qualified Partners commit to:

  • Publicly pledge a portfolio-wide energy savings goal of at least 20% over ten years and develop an organization-wide plan, schedule, and milestones.
  • Announce, initiate, and complete at least one showcase project.
  • Have all buildings’ energy use benchmarked and a plan in place to manage conservation.
  • Share portfolio-wide, building-level energy performance information to measure progress against their pledge goal, and share information about the energy efficiency implementation models (including the tools, technologies, and processes) they are using to reach their pledge goal. In return for their participation, Partners receive from the DOE/BBC technical assistance and help in creating energy efficiency implementation models to support their commitment to measure, track, and improve portfolio-wide energy performance. In addition, DOE and HUD provide national recognition to Partners for achieving program milestones and energy efficiency results.

APS has everything to gain and nothing to lose in joining ranks with the other recently selected Partners including Intel Corporation (a data center partner committing 24 data centers); Manhattan Housing Authority (committing 202 thousand square feet of multifamily space); and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing NA, Inc. (committing 10 plants); among other entities, both big and small, nationwide.

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