The Green Living Guy

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

Green advocates on Tuesday rallied to pass legislation that would allow homeowners to pay for energy efficiency improvements through charges on fuel bills.

The proposal for what’s known as on-bill financing has been introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate, potentially leading to a new wave of energy efficient projects by easing and simplifying payment.

Supporters rallied in Merrick for the passage of the bill, arguing it will help lower energy bills, generate construction jobs and give a boost to the home performance industry, one of the state’s fastest growing, if little noted, sectors. Only contractors who obtain certifications accepted by the state would qualify.

The legislation would essentially end the need to pay for energy efficiency upfront or through separate installments by creating a mechanism for utilities to collect money on behalf of lenders through energy bills.

“If we save you 50 percent on energy efficiency and your bills are down, we can space the term of the project over five, 10 or 15 years,” said Dan Kartzman, co-chairman of Efficiency First, an energy efficiency trade group, and president of Powersmith Home Energy Solutions, in Bayshore. “Instead of it being tied to your house and normal credit, it could be tied to your energy bill. It becomes easier for people to understand and handle.”

The legislation, which would let people pay off projects through energy bills, follows the New York State Energy Research Development Authority’s earlier launch of a Green Jobs-Green New York program, which set aside $114 million to boost energy efficiency.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a new strategy to promote the use of green infrastructure by cities and towns to reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes our nation’s streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. In addition to protecting Americans’ health by decreasing water pollution, green infrastructure provides many community benefits including increased economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings and increased recreational and green space. 

“Through this agenda, we’ll help cities and towns across the nation clean up their waters and strengthen their communities by supporting and expanding green infrastructure,” said Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who announced the agenda at a Green Street, Green Jobs conference focused on fostering green infrastructure in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. “Green infrastructure changes improve the health of our waters while creating local jobs, saving communities money and making them healthier and more prosperous places to raise a family and start a business.”

Stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of polluted stormwater degrade our nation’s rivers, lakes and aquatic habitats and contribute to downstream flooding. Green infrastructure captures and filters pollutants by passing stormwater through soils and retaining it on site. Effective green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.

As part of the strategy, EPA will work with partners including local governments, watershed groups, tribes and others in 10 cities that have utilized green infrastructure and have plans for additional projects. EPA will encourage and support expanded use of green infrastructure in these cities and highlight them as models for other municipalities around the country. The 10 cities are: Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Puyallup, Wash.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Washington, DC and neighboring Anacostia Watershed communities.

Energy savings is one of the greatest benefits of green infrastructure. On and around buildings, green infrastructure can reduce heating and cooling costs. For example, green roofs reduce a building’s energy costs by 10 to 15 percent, and an additional 10 percent of urban tree canopy can provide 5 to 10 percent energy savings from shading and windblocking. Green infrastructure also conserves energy by reducing the amount of stormwater entering combined collection and treatment systems, which reduces the amount of wastewater processed at treatment plants.

EPA will continue to work with other federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, municipalities, and the private sector to identify opportunities for using green infrastructure and provide assistance to communities implementing green approaches to control stormwater. EPA will also provide additional tools to help states and communities leverage green infrastructure opportunities within other innovative environmental projects. 

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