climate action alerts
A regional resource for Cape & Islands climate activists
July 11, 2021
Global/National
2021 Resource Guide for State and Local Leaders Now Available
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy State and Local Spotlight - June 2021

"Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources for State and Local Leaders " provides an overview of new and high-impact energy efficiency and renewable energy resources for states, local governments, and K–12 school districts. The resource guide also spotlights partnership opportunities and resources for public sector stakeholders from across the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Download the 2021 Resource Guide.
Expanding Access to Solar for Low-to-Moderate Income Households and Communities: Lessons Learned for State Agencies

A new resource published by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) highlights best practices and lessons learned from a three-year multi-state initiative to develop and implement innovative strategies for expanding access to solar for low-to-moderate income (LMI) households and communities.

From 2017 to 2020, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia worked with CESA on the State Energy Strategies project, supported by funding from DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Office. Through the course of this project, over 30,000 LMI households have received or will receive the benefits of solar energy. In addition, the project team developed a deeper understanding of the unique challenges of LMI solar and of ways to meet those challenges.

Lessons learned from the State Energy Strategies project are compiled in a new webpage on the CESA website. The page also provides links to case studies, reports, webinars, and other products developed over the life of the project. Read more.
A bombshell report from closely followed International Energy Agency
As important as the ‘what’ of this report is the ‘who’ – the influential IEA – said it. It’s a message commanding attention.
By Daniel Grossman, Yale Climate Connections, 1 July 2021

Climate researchers and policy experts around the world are singing praise of a study just released by the stodgy International Energy Administration in Paris. “Quite amazing,” said one. “Heartening,” said another. A third one called it, “one of the most important climate analyses ever published.” 

The report offers a blueprint of how the global community might still manage to accomplish the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of preventing the planet from warming more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) above the preindustrial temperature. It requires a complete halt to prospecting for new fossil fuels and a breathtaking acceleration of wind and solar energy development.

Of course, even analysts gobsmacked by the study have tossed some brickbats. Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown, his own plan for combating climate change, acidly asked, “Where were [they] for the last 20 years?” He and others remind us that IEA had soft-peddled renewable energy long after it could well have supported it. Still, climate insiders predict the report will help speed up the replacement fossil fuel with wind, solar and other climate-friendly energy. Read more.
Climate of the Commonwealth
Local & Regional
Monomoy Students Propose Solar Canopy At High School
By William F. Galvin, Cape Cod Chronicle, June 23, 2021

HARWICH — Monomoy Regional High School students are reaching out to town officials once again with a project designed to improve the environment.

Selectmen last Monday heard a presentation from eighth grader Sophia Cohrs on behalf of her class that calls for the creation of solar canopies in parking lots at the regional high school. The canopies would provide shade for vehicles, create solar energy and reduce electricity costs for the school while reducing greenhouse gases and helping to improve the environment.
Through the Project Citizen program, the students have won community support to reduce vaping and plastic in the environment. In a statewide Project Citizen competition 2019, the students won The Humanitarian Project Award and Best Overall Award for a project calling for limiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. They also won the Best Hearing Award for banning plastic straws. The teams worked with instructors Andrew Matheson and John Dickson on the projects.

Solar projects in Cape communities have been expanding in recent years through collaboration with the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC). Harwich just completed solar projects at Cranberry Valley Golf Course, and there is a 200kW solar installation on the roof of the high school. Read more.
Partner Spotlight:
Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod
Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod has the best HERS ratings of all Habitats in the United States

“HERS" stands for Home Energy Rating System. A HERS Rating is the industry standard for measuring the energy efficiency of a home. It is a overall view of the energy usage of the home; incorporating performance testing, building materials, HVAC equipment, appliances, and lighting. A HERS Rating is the most common method to show compliance with local energy codes, and in Stretch Code communities a HERS Rating is mandatory. For more information please see: HERS® Rating | Home Energy Raters, LLC (energycodehelp.com)
Baker-Polito Administration Funds Solar Projects for Low-Income Residents
$250,000 grant funds solar systems on six Brewster Habitat for Humanity homes
By Robert Fitzpatrick, MassCEC, July 19,2021

At a ribbon cutting ceremony, the Baker-Polito Administration today celebrated the completion of six solar photovoltaic systems on newly constructed homes for low-income residents by Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod. The project was funded by a $250,000 grant awarded to Cape Light Compact, which supported an additional nine solar projects across Cape Cod.

“Providing support for these projects demonstrates our Administration’s steadfast commitment to ensuring that all residents, regardless of income, have access to affordable clean energy technologies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By forming meaningful relationships between our state agencies and non-profits, Massachusetts is bolstering its nation-leading efforts to alleviate hurdles to renewable energy for low-income residents.”

“These projects will help reduce energy bills for low-income homeowners while expanding the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By expanding access to clean energy technologies to more residents we can both grow the state’s renewable energy portfolio and help low-income families access cost-cutting technologies.” The grant, awarded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s $15 million Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Initiative (AACEE).

“Through our innovative AACEE initiative, the Baker-Polito Adminstration strives to give more Massachusetts opportunities to meet their energy needs with cost-effective, renewable solutions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “By adding solar to these newly constructed homes, these residents will be able to save money on their energy bills while helping the Commonwealth meet its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.”
Related News from Archives
Solar Installed On Habitat For Humanity Homes In Cape Cod
By Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, Massachusetts’ Baker-Polito administration celebrated the completion of six solar photovoltaic systems on newly constructed homes for low-income residents by Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod. Read more.
Energy & Built Environment
Harnessing the tides: The future of renewable energy could begin in Cape Cod Canal
Beth Treffeisen, Cape Cod Times, June 23, 2021iew Comments
BUZZARDS BAY — Attached to a metal pole, a small tidal turbine resembling a metal rocket ship was placed Tuesday morning under the ripping currents of the Cape Cod Canal. The tidal turbine could be the start of another form of renewable energy that would be able to provide electricity for decades to come. 

“It’s an industry that is well-poised to take off,” said David Duquette, CEO of Littoral Power Systems Inc., based in New Bedford, that provided the model tidal turbine for the demonstration Tuesday. “But it does have some cost constraints, which is why we are looking at things such as saving costs on civil works.” 

The tidal turbine, which was not producing electricity, was the first of its kind to be tested on the Bourne Tidal Test Site structure situated next to the railroad bridge near the Buzzards Bay side of the canal. It will be monitored using a camera system to see if it will affect fish and marine wildlife in the area. “We wanted to spin up something in our backyard here — we’ll do it,” said Duquette before the turbine was launched. Read more.
Emerging Local Legal Pathways for Building Electrification: Air Pollution and Land Use Regulation in New York City & Brookline, Massachusetts
By Amy Turner, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law: Columbia Law School, May 28th, 2021

This week marked significant growth for the building electrification movement, as the legal pathways in use by local governments to catalyze electrification doubled in number. Previously, local governments had pursued building electrification through building code provisions requiring or incentivizing electrification expressly, or through affirmative “bans” on natural gas hookups to new and renovated buildings. More than 40 local governments in California have taken the former approach, in addition to Seattle, while a much smaller number – three in California plus Brookline, Massachusetts – took the latter. Brookline’s attempt was later struck down by the Massachusetts attorney general....

Ten months after Brookline’s 2019 bylaw prohibiting gas connections to new buildings was struck down by the state’s attorney general, members of the local legislative body, Town Meeting, introduced Warrant Articles 25 and 26, two zoning bylaws that provide strong incentives for electrification in new buildings. WA-25 offers a number of incentives to buildings in the Emerald Island special overlay district. The approach parallels other conditions of the overlay district and can be expanded to new zoning overlays in the future. WA-26 is somewhat more novel, and applies to all projects seeking a special permit. Read more.
Hearth & Home
Reduce Your Impact
Are you about to buy a new appliance? Remodel your house? Upgrade your heating or cooling system? If you’re like most of us, you don’t do these things very often. When you do, you want to make good choices, both for your pocketbook and for the environment.

This checklist provides a way to prioritize some important energy efficiency improvements. Find out what improvements can help you start saving energy today.

Get an Energy Audit
Before making major efficiency improvements to your house, find out where and why energy is being wasted and what you should do about it. (Editor's note: contact Cape Light Compact for your free energy audit.)

The decision to make certain energy improvements can be obvious —for example, if you have a broken appliance and need to replace it. But there may be other important priorities for your house that you are unaware of.

  • Heating - 26% Energy used by your heating system.
  • Cooling - 17% Energy used by your cooling system.
  • Water Heating - 13% Energy used by your water heater for bathing, cleaning, etc.
  • Lighting - 10% Energy used for lighting your home.
  • Appliances - 14% Energy used for food storage, clothes washing/drying, cooking, etc. 
  • Electronics - 7% Energy used for home entertainment systems, computers, etc.
  • Other - 13% Energy used for pool pumps, motors, and other miscellaneous devices.
How to keep your house cool during a heatwave without making climate change worse
By Tim McDonnell, Quartz, June 29, 2021

Western parts of the US and Canada are baking in a record-setting heatwave, with temperatures at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celcius) in Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and elsewhere in the region. The heat on June 28 was so intense that it caused rolling blackouts across Washington and Oregon, and literally melted power cables on Portland’s public transit system. ...As climate change continues to exacerbate extreme heat events, AC isn’t just a luxury—it could be a matter of life and death.

But energy-hungry AC is also itself a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (in the US, equivalent to as much as 25.5 million cars in a year), and is also the primary culprit behind summer blackouts. Fortunately, there’s a better way...

Heat pumps are the AC of the future
In general, the mantra among climate-conscious energy experts is that society needs to “electrify everything” that currently burns oil or gas. Read more.
Be A Fan Of Fans
Posted by Larry Chretien, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, June 29, 2021

Compared to parts of the country that have much greater summer cooling needs, New Englanders have more options to keep ourselves comfortable affordably and sustainably. Unless you have someone in your home who needs central air conditioning for health reasons, we encourage you to look to room air conditioners and fans, particularly ceiling fans. Here are some tips, offered by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy.

Fans use less energy than air conditioning and can meet desired comfort levels in our climate. Window fan units can very effective. 
Ceiling fans. Ceiling fans cool by creating a low-level “wind chill” effect throughout a room. As long as indoor humidity isn’t stifling, they can be quite effective. Just remember that a fan cools people — it doesn’t actually reduce room temperature — so turn it off when you leave the room. Look for ENERGY STAR-rated ceiling fans.

If you buy a fan with lighting included, ENERGY STAR rated units are about 60% more efficient than conventional units. Read more.
Business & Finance
Analysis: Outdated U.S. Lending Rules Abet Inefficient Homes, High Energy Bills, Climate Change
Press Release, American Councll for an Energy Efficient Economy, June 24, 2021

Washington, DC—Hundreds of thousands of new homes purchased each year with federally backed loans and programs are built to outdated energy efficiency standards, saddling low- and moderate-income households with needless energy costs and raising greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new analysis released today. Other new homes backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have no limit on energy waste. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that if regulators regularly update efficiency requirements for the homes, they can create one million job-years of work, reduce total costs by $29 billion, and avert carbon pollution equivalent to that from 67 million passenger vehicles in a year.

In a letter dated Thursday, 18 energy efficiency organizations and associations called on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge and Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to move quickly to update the standards to ensure new homes are far more energy efficient. Read more.
More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard
By Zack Budryk, The Hill, July 7, 2021 

More than 75 major U.S. companies including Apple, Google, Lyft and Salesforce signed a letter circulated Wednesday urging Congress to adopt a federal clean electricity standard.
In the letter, signers urged the federal government adopt a standard that achieves 80 percent carbon neutrality by the end of the decade, with a goal of completely emission-free power by 2035.
Signers of the letter, organized by sustainability advocacy group Ceres and the Environmental Defense Fund, also include automakers General Motors and Tesla. Read more.
Global banks to launch voluntary carbon offset market platform
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, July 7, 2021

Four global banks - Britain's NatWest Group, Canada's Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Australia's National Australia Bank and Brazil's Itaú Unibanco - next month plan to launch a platform for a voluntary carbon market, called the Project Carbon Initiative. In a joint statement, the banks said the initiative would allow buyers to trace the origins of carbon credits and would act as a record of credit ownership, ultimately creating a more liquid market for the offsets and helping clients manage climate risks. Read more. Read more.
Agri-/Aquaculture & Conservation
The US is about to go all-in on paying farmers and foresters to trap carbon
The problem is, it’s unclear if “carbon offsets” even work.
Grist, July 7, 2021

Kelly Garrett runs his 7,000-acre farm in western Iowa with the same attitude he brings to a game of golf. He wants a hole in one every time — in other words, perfection. 
He is the seventh generation of his family to live and work on the rolling hills of Garrett Land and Cattle in Arion, Iowa, tending to lush fields of corn and soybean crops and raising cattle for beef. In no-frills jeans and work boots, Garrett looks like a man who has spent his life farming. The eyes under his bald head have wrinkles nestled into their corners, hinting at decades of squinting in the sun. 
Garrett harbors a seemingly unquenchable urge for progress on the farm that he runs with his father. If his soil could be healthier, his crop yield higher, his profit margins wider, he makes it happen. It’s this need to be at the cutting edge of agriculture that drove him to co-found XtremeAg.farm, a website where Garrett and six other farmers review agricultural tools and practices. Partner companies pay them to screen products and report to their readers whether they’re worth the effort and money or just agricultural snake oil. Read more.

But the introduction of genetically modified trees raises some difficult questions.
By Adele Peters, Fast Company, June 23, 2021

Part of the climate challenge isn’t just the transition to things like renewable energy and electric cars—it’s also about dealing with the oversupply of CO2 that’s already in the Earth’s atmosphere. By the middle of the century, by one estimate, the world may need to be pulling 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year to be able to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. By the end of the century, that number could double to 20 billion tons per year.

That’s sparked the growth of “negative emissions” technology. Direct air capture startups, with machines that pull CO2 from the air, are being backed by companies like United Airlines. Capitalizing on trees’ ability to function as natural carbon capture machines... Dozens of other companies are experimenting with farming seaweed, regenerative agriculture, and techniques like spreading crushed rock on the ground. And in the Bay Area, a company called Living Carbon is engineering trees that can capture and store more carbon than typical trees. Read more.
The scientists fighting to save the ocean’s most important carbon capture system
The population of kelp forests, which help clean the air, has fallen dramatically. That has environmentalists worried.
By Lucy Sherriff, The Washington Post, July 5, 2021

ANACAPA ISLAND, Calif. — Frank Hurd gently parted the curtains of giant kelp that reached upward through the cold waters of the North Pacific, looking for signs of life. Kelp forests cover a quarter of the world’s coastlines, stretching from Antarctica to Australia, Mexico to Alaska, providing food and shelter for thousands of species, while sucking carbon from the atmosphere. But over the past decade, thanks to warming waters and overfishing, they’re disappearing.

On this afternoon, Hurd, a marine biologist at the Nature Conservancy, said he was relieved to find thick kelp canopies surrounding an unpolluted patch off Anacapa Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park in California... Kelp are essentially the ocean’s equivalent of trees. They absorb carbon dioxide and nitrogen compounds, helping clean the atmosphere while capturing up to 20 times more carbon per acre than land forests. Read more.
Education, Training & Webinars
Energy Savings Performance Contracting Training: Earn a GESPC-U Certificate

As part of the DOE and National Association of State Energy Officials' (NASEO) Return-to-Work Initiative, DOE and NASEO are promoting training resources to enhance public-sector officials' understanding of energy savings performance contracting (ESPC).

Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting University (GESPC-U) is a 25-lesson basic informational series (audio and text) presented by the Energy Services Coalition (ESC) and sponsored by DOE that covers all phases of a performance contract.

The series takes the listener from the concept of ESPC through contracts, construction, post-construction, and beyond. To access GESPC-U, go to the GESPC Online Community and register. The online community is designed to provide a peer environment where public-sector participants can share experiences and advance their knowledge. You can also listen to the podcasts on the ESC website. Read more.
Rooting Environmental Justice Efforts in Community
Environmental Justice & Community Organizing

Wednesday, July 21
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm ET
Free

Grassroots community organizing is and always has been at the heart of the environmental justice movement. In recent years, this organizing has led to state-level legislative successes across the nation, including expanding community engagement, developing equitable climate funding requirements, and establishing environmental justice task forces -- yet there is still more work to be done. Closing the gap between grassroots organizers and the rest of the climate action community is an essential step in securing a truly just and equitable future for our planet.

The Climate XChange's July Deep Dive webinar will focus on the environmental and climate organizations that are doing this hard work, highlighting their on-the-ground efforts to empower communities and emphasizing how other state actors can support this action.

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We are an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to reach carbon neutrality or net zero on Cape Cod and the Islands of Massachusetts by enhancing communication, collaboration, and activism among organizations, programs, and individuals committed to mitigating the climate crisis. We depend upon the generosity of our stakeholders to conduct our work. All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.
The Climate Action Alerts newsletter is compiled and crafted by Fran Schofield. If you've got a climate story from your home, school, workplace, town or organization, please be in touch!
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