Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Erie 2030 District Achieves 22.4% Decline In Energy Use; $4.6 Million In Energy Savings; 14.6% Decline In Carbon Emissions

On August 30, the
Erie 2030 District, a group comprising 17 Erie area property partners representing 130 buildings and over 5.9 million square feet, released its 2021 Progress Report detailing efforts by partners who have committed to a dramatic reduction in energy use and carbon emissions in their buildings by the year 2030. 

In 2021, Erie 2030 District partners reduced energy usage to 22.4% below the baseline (compared to 13% in 2020), amounting to $4.6 million in 2021 (annualized) energy savings.

The District also announced a new focus on carbon emissions. 

This change follows statements issued at the 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties in Glasgow (COP26), indicating that for the world to meet the 1.5°C carbon budget set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries must reduce CO2 emissions in the entire [existing] built environment by 50-65% by 2030 and reach zero carbon by 2040. 

The carbon budget is the amount of CO2 that humanity can emit while still having a chance to contain global warming within 1.5 degrees centigrade compared with preindustrial levels.

In 2021, the Erie District reduced carbon emissions by 14.6% (avoiding 12,400 metric tons of CO2e in 2021). 

Buildings committed to achieving Erie 2030 District goals represent a broad range of property types, including nonprofits, universities, hospitals, office buildings and more.

“The built environment accounts for approximately 28% of global CO2 emissions and 40% of all U. S. primary energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions,” says Chris Cieslak, Green Building Alliance 2030 District Senior Director and VP of Program Strategy & Impact. “Buildings have a heavy impact on climate, but the good news is that changes to the way we build, operate and maintain our buildings can dramatically reduce that impact. These include migrating to full building electrification, increasing renewable energy, and advocating for more stringent building codes and energy-related policies and incentives. A high-performing building reduces energy use and emissions while also delivering significant energy cost savings, making it win-win for people, for business and for the planet.”

Erie 2030 District building managers and operators achieved energy and emissions reductions primarily by retrofitting lighting to LED and replacing boilers and air conditioners with higher efficiency models. 

Larger facilities made numerous HVAC equipment upgrades such as greasing bearings, replacing sensors, and adding variable frequency drives to fan motors. 

One partner participated in a demand response program that incentivizes building operators who reduce their electricity demand during peak air conditioning season. At least one building owner modernized its elevators.

To facilitate those changes, the Erie 2030 District partners receive education, training and guidance on topics such as:

-- Conducting deep carbon retrofits on existing buildings to dramatically improve efficiency;

-- Facilitating building electrification to eliminate fossil fuel use, including replacing furnaces and boilers that run on natural gas with ground- or air-source heat pumps;

-- Thermal energy storage; and,  

-- On-site renewable energy.

2030 District partners include the Erie Central Fire Station, soon to be the City of Erie’s first publicly owned solar project. Powered entirely by solar energy, the fire station’s solar array is expected to generate 108% of the annual power needed by the facility. 

Planners also chose to incorporate robust on-site battery storage technology as part of the solar installation project. This will allow the station to be powered at night and during heavily clouded conditions for up to a full week.

“New advances in solar energy battery storage technology provide tremendous resiliency for communities, particularly given the critical nature of the fire station to a city’s infrastructure,” says Cieslak. “In the event of extended power outages, the fire station has the potential to function as a community shelter and infrastructure security.”

Solar installations at Presque Isle State Park will contribute to further reductions in energy use and emissions in the District, thanks to the leadership of Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. Secretary Dunn has pledged to take the park to net zero via a 280kW solar canopy array over the parking lot at Beach 8. 

The array will provide 100% of the park’s electricity needs, powering the welcome center, pavilions and restrooms while improving air quality and reducing noise pollution.

"Erie is quickly becoming a model city in Pennsylvania as we move forward using renewable sources," said Mayor Joe Schember. "Improvements like our solar energy project on the Erie Central Fire Station and other public buildings are vital for the City of Erie, as we move toward a sustainable environment for future generations."​

Click Here for a copy of the full Erie 2030 District report.

Erie 2020 District results were presented by Green Building Alliance, a Western Pennsylvania nonprofit that facilitates both the Erie 2030 District and the Pittsburgh 2030 District

GBA provides 2030 District partners with resources and technical assistance needed to own, manage, and develop high-performance buildings. 

[Posted: August 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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