Green heat is often most cost-effective option: DoE

This level has more than doubled the use of renewable energy as a percentage of total facility electricity since 2003, says Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE).

She was testifying before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization & Procurement Committee on Oversight & Government Reform of the House of Representatives.

For FY10, the goal for Federal agencies rises to 5% of total electricity to come from renewable sources, and remains at this level until FY13, when it increases to 7.5% under current statute.

“Not counted in this metric is the very significant amount of non-electric renewable energy produced and purchased by the government that displaces the need for additional electric generation,” she adds, including solar thermal hot water and space heating, geothermal thermal energy, steam from biomass, and landfill methane.

Non-electric renewable energy can displace fossil

“These renewable sources of non-electric energy are often the most cost-effective means to displace fossil energy,” she explains.

Currently, the sustainability performance of Federal buildings is rated on 6 metrics which flow from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 (EISA), and Executive Order 13423.

Consumption of electricity from renewable sources is one of the 6 current performance metrics, as well as reduced energy intensity, percentage of appropriate facilities which have been metered for electricity use, reduced water intensity, construction compliance with Federal design standards and application of sustainability guiding principles.

“The Government has made substantial progress in reducing its energy intensity,” reporting a 13.1% decrease in site-delivered energy per square foot compared with the baseline year of 2003.

“Part of this decrease is attributable to subtracting approximately 14 trillion Btu for renewable energy purchases and for projects that reduce primary energy use,” she explains.

The credits toward energy intensity reduction from the purchase of renewable energy can be attributed to the now-revoked Executive Order 131239, which permitted agencies to credit renewable energy purchases toward their performance under energy reduction goals.During FY09, these credits were phased out according to DoE’s Renewable Energy Requirement Guidance for EPACT 2005 and Executive Order 13423.

The credits will be phased out completely by FY12.

Latest FY was best for investment in renewable energy

Preliminary data indicate that FY09 was “the best year ever for energy efficiency and renewable energy investment at Federal agencies” with an 84% increase in overall investment and a 130% increase in appropriated investment, in part from Recovery Act funding, she adds.

Total agency investments in FY09 were US$1,681m, compared with US$271m in FY04.