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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced 12 topics to fund more than 100 new projects, totaling approximately $20 million as part of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research programs. Five of the announced topics focus on building technologies:

Next Generation Residential Air Handlers

DOE is seeking the development of air handlers with improved motor designs and new system configurations that utilize advanced computational fluid dynamics modelling to reduce energy consumption by at least 25% while improving HVAC performance by at least 5%.

Novel Materials and Processes for Solid-State Lighting

DOE is seeking development of materials for light-emitting diodes, organic light-emitting diodes, and optical materials for high-efficiency luminaires that show promise to achieve the predicted and requisite performance advancements and risk limitations to advance to successive stages of research.

Automated Point Mapping for Commercial Buildings

DOE is seeking the development of innovative, early-stage algorithmic solutions to the currently laborious and expensive process of tagging and mapping individual points of a building’s sensors, actuators, and controllers, which stands as one of the largest barriers to automated fault detection and diagnostics implementation.

R&D to Augment Building Energy Modeling

DOE is seeking the development and/or incorporation of new or enhanced modeling capabilities that could complement whole-building energy modeling, e.g. life-cycle analysis, daylighting, indoor and outdoor environmental quality and thermal comfort, urban microclimate, cost, water use, resiliency.

Data Fusion for Building Technology Projects

DOE is seeking the development of new and emerging data science techniques with possible relevance to building technology research projects – especially those with a focus on demand reduction and flexibility, critical water issues, and resiliency – to counteract the lack of data standardization that often prevents the “fusion” of disparate data sets and inhibits the effectiveness of advanced building technology testing and validation.

Letters of intent are due on Monday, January 7, 2019, at 5:00pm ET. Applicants should review the FY19 Phase I Release 2 funding opportunity announcement on the DOE SBIR and STTR website for directions on how to submit a letter of intent.

The State of California Department of General Services released their policy that provides direction to state agencies that build, lease and operate state buildings, on reducing indoor pollutant levels and ensuring healthful indoor environments for occupants in new, renovated, leased, and existing state buildings, as directed in Governor’s Executive Order B- 18-12 and the Green Building Action Plan.

The Green Building Action Plan requires State agencies to implement measures to ensure a healthful indoor environment for their building occupants as follows:

New/Renovated State Buildings: State agencies shall implement mandatory measures and relevant and feasible voluntary measures of the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen), Part 11, related to indoor environmental quality (IEQ) that are in effect at the time of new construction or alteration. The information is available at

Existing State Buildings: When accomplishing Alterations, Modifications, and Maintenance Repairs and when relevant and feasible, state agencies shall implement the mandatory and voluntary measures of the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) , Part 11, related to indoor environmental quality.

New and Renegotiated State Leased Buildings: The Department of General Services (DGS) will encourage Lessors to implement measures of the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) related to indoor environmental quality, where economically feasible, for all new or renegotiated leases.

The Code documents the following major steps to ensure a healthful indoor environment:

1. Use indoor products and materials that emit little or no harmful chemicals;
2. Provide appropriate ventilation, filtration and proper Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment maintenance;
3. Prevent water intrusion and the growth of mold;
4. Implement line of sight and “daylighting” for new buildings; and
5. Solicit feedback from tenants every two years

Download the California Green Building Action Plan
Download the California Green Building Standard Code (CALGreen)

Note that some of the cited sources in this document may have become outdated from the time it was released. However they will be updated as they change.

If you have any questions contact:
Peggy Jenkins, California Air Resources Board, [email protected]

BTUS researchers recently presented energy-savings results from 73 commercial building owners and operators who are using Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS) at their sites. In its second year of operation, the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign has gathered and analyzed data from over 400 million square feet of install space for efficiency insights and savings achieved by owners that are implementing EMIS, along with associated technology costs.

Link to year 2 results, Webinar Recording:

Read "Energy Management and Information Systems Aid Efficiency" post at facilitiesnet:

Looking around the typical home or office, many homeowners and employees will find a staggering amount of technology on display: the refrigerator that keeps our food fresh; the thermostat that controls room temperature; the array of electronics to enable (and sometimes impede) our productivity; the lights that make tasks visible at night.

“As this large technology base continues to grow, the number of ways that a building can use energy grows with it, meaning that the best opportunities for saving energy in buildings are always changing,” said Jared Langevin, research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). “What’s more, the pace of change is relatively quick—ask a homeowner from the year 2000 what they think of smart thermostats or where they buy their LED light bulbs, and they’d have little clue of what you were talking about.”

Into this technology development maelstrom enters Scout, a software program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office (BTO) in partnership with Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Scout estimates the national impacts of emerging energy-efficient technologies and systems on building energy use and operating costs, drawing from a consistent energy use baseline, standard energy conservation measure (ECM) definitions, and realistic simulations of stock turnover and ECM competition dynamics. With support from BTO, Scout is now available as a web-based application for sharing Scout’s capabilities with the broader energy analysis community.

“The Scout web app ( will be of interest to users who want to know how new energy-saving technologies or approaches fit into the larger U.S. market for energy efficiency—both at present and decades into the future,” said Chioke Harris, an NREL research engineer collaborating with Langevin on the project. Looking for simple definitions of technologies and their national impacts to compare with similar technologies? Visit the ECM Summaries page. Curious about the total impacts of a technology portfolio and which end uses or technologies contribute most to those impacts? The Analysis Results page presents those insights. Just want to know about the status-quo outlook for U.S. building energy use? The Baseline Energy Calculator provides that information.

The web app can help all kinds of folks better understand how energy use in buildings might change with the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, as well as the potential cost savings from those technologies. Companies that own or manage large building portfolios can learn about the financial performance of various technologies using metrics that can help them with the business justification for investing in energy efficiency. Energy policy organizations and nonprofits can look at those same technologies through the lenses of their energy and cost savings potential for a specific region or across the United States. Researchers interested in developing next-generation energy-efficient building technologies can use the baseline energy use projections and ECM definitions to better understand where they can have the greatest impact. Users intrigued by the app can take the leap and download the Scout analysis engine to get results custom tailored to their unique interests.

“Looking ahead, Scout’s flexibility to folding in new input data, technology areas, and valuation metrics will be essential in keeping the program viable as the building energy use landscape continues to change,” said Langevin. In just the last few months, for example, Scout’s baseline data were updated reflect the latest Energy Information Administration national energy use projections and new analysis capabilities were piloted that will allow users to value energy efficiency differently by time of day and season, reflecting an increasing focus on buildings as a source of grid services. All of these updates were pushed to the Scout GitHub repository and were carefully documented with an eye towards transparency.

“We expect that will bring new tests of Scout’s flexibility, opening the program to exciting use cases and avenues of investigation that have yet to be explored,” Langevin said. In the meantime, interested readers are encouraged to get started with their own Scout analyses and to keep an eye out for new Scout releases.

EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Opportunity

Is Now Open!

FY2019 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date:

Friday, February 15, 2019, by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

The Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) program awards grants that support community-driven projects designed to engage, educate, and empower communities to better understand local environmental and public health issues and develop strategies for addressing those issues, building consensus in the community, and setting community priorities. The EJSG program will award approximately $1.5 million nationwide for this competitive opportunity. EPA anticipates awarding approximately 50 grants (5 per EPA Region) of up to $30,000 each. These grants are for one-year projects.

See additional details at: FY2019 EJ Small Grants RFP webpage

Informational Pre-Application Assistance Calls

Potential applicants are invited to participate in conference calls with EPA to address questions about the EJSG Program and this solicitation. Interested persons may access the pre-application assistance calls by dialing 866-299-3188 and entering the code 202-564-6349# when prompted. The following are the conference call dates and times:

Date and Time (Eastern Time)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 (en Español): 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019: 4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.

Thursday, January 31, 2019: 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.

Is my organization eligible?

Eligible entities for this opportunity are as follows:

Incorporated non-profit organizations—including, but not limited to, environmental justice networks, faith-based organizations and those affiliated with religious institutions

Federally recognized tribal governments—including Alaska Native Villages

Tribal organizations

If your organization is NOT eligible, we encourage partnering with eligible entities on an EJSG project. See the RFP for more information.

How can I apply?

Click the link below to go directly to the EJSG program website to access the full RFP, including instructions on applying through FY2019 EJ Small Grants RFP webpage

Theme of the Call for proposals: Delivering on sustainable low-carbon lifestyles. Mainstreaming Low-Carbon Sustainable Lifestyles through innovative initiatives or upscaling of successful high-impact initiatives

Project proposals are invited in four types:

1. Micro scale: proposals for projects aimed at developing ideas that are still at infant stage; with project budgets under 50,000 US dollars;
2. Small-scale: proposals for projects to build partnerships with budgets between 100,000 and 200,000 US dollars
3. Medium scale grant (a): proposals for projects that will render high impact and with budgets up to 500,000 US dollars
4. Medium scale grant (b): proposals for implementation of activities contributing to the shift to Sustainable Lifestyles from Regional Roadmaps for Sustainable Consumption and Production with budgets up to 300,000 US dollars

Closing date:
For Micro-Scale Projects: 27th of December 2018.
For Small-Scale Projects, and Medium-Scale Projects: 10th of January 2019

Details at the link:

by Al Hodgson, Co-founder and Research Director, Berkeley Analytical Associates

Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) has a long history as a metric for determining the acceptability of the emissions of VOCs from building products and furnishings. The first significant program to rely on a TVOC criterion was the Carpet & Rug Institute’s (CRI) Green Label Program that evolved out of the Carpet Policy Dialog between the carpet industry and the US EPA.The TVOC criterion was later incorporated into the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating systems and was adopted by the commercial furniture industry. More recent VOC emission test method and acceptance standards have focused instead on individual VOCs that may pose health hazards to individuals at low concentrations. Examples of such programs in North America are the California Department of Health Services' Standard Practice (a.k.a. Section 01350), which recently was revised to Standard Method Version 1.1, and CRI’s Green Label Plus program. TVOC values are still reported, but pass/fail determinations are based on the emission levels of individual compounds of concern. There is an urgent need to expand such determinations of acceptability beyond a select number of individual VOCs to encompass the broader range of chemical emissions that may impact health. TVOC is again being proposed to fill this gap and may be appealing to many because of its presumed simplicity. In my opinion, we should avoid this temptation and move on the more difficult, but certainly achievable, task of focusing on the toxicity of individual compounds. The following are my primary arguments against the use of TVOC as a Pass/Fail metric.

TVOC measurements may be grossly inaccurate and therefore the TVOC concept is unsuitable as a PASS/FAIL metric.  Individual compounds' instrumental responses relative to toluene, the surrogate standard of choice, vary dramatically.  Some common VOCs have an order of magnitude lower response per unit mass than toluene. Other compounds have higher response ratios. Even within a class of compounds (e.g., alkane hydrocarbons) the response per unit mass can vary substantially depending upon their chromatographic retention times with early eluting compounds having lower response ratios than late eluting compounds.  Individual VOCs also are measured with very different levels of precision. Thus, there is no way to determine the accuracy and precision of TVOC measurements made across different mixtures of VOCs characteristic of the broad range of products and materials being assessed.  This problem with TVOC is well recognized by true experts.  In particular, ISO 16000-9, the emission test method most widely used in Europe and other regions outside of the US clearly states. "The sum of emitted compounds, TVOC, should be regarded only as a factor specific to the product studied and only to be used for comparison of products with similar target VOC profiles."  One of the big changes that is needed in the reporting of VOC emissions is to include estimates of uncertainty.  In fact, reporting of uncertainty is dictated by ISO/IEC 17025 quality management systems if requested by the customer.  The use of TVOC moves the process in the completely opposite direction toward unknowable uncertainty.

Product certification programs can, and should, be progressive with respect to public health concerns.  TVOC may be a useful tool for such certification programs.  For example, the monitoring of TVOC for a specific product over time (in keeping with the ISO 16000-9 precaution) may provide useful information on manufacturing variations within or among production facilities assuming the VOC profiles are similar.  However, this is not a substitute for assessing the potential impacts of the individual compounds comprising these emissions.  There are many different lists of toxic chemicals that can be used by certification programs as the basis for such assessments.  The fact that a publically available method and guideline document only contains a relatively short list of chemicals of concern should not be a limiting factor.  MBDC's Cradle-to-Cradle program is one example of a proactive certification program that considers the environmental and human health issues associated with chemicals used the in the manufacturing of products.  It should be noted that a significant downside to this particular program is the lack of transparency with respect to how the toxicology judgments are made.  It also might be argued that the success Greenguard's Children & Schools program in the marketplace is, in part, related to their use of an expanded list of individual chemicals of concern.

Assuming there was a more accurate and precise measure of the quantity of total VOCs emitted by a product, there still is a need to establish an acceptable level.  The Greenguard Indoor Air program uses a guideline of 500 µg/m3 modeled to a small room.  The Greenguard Children & Schools program uses a guideline of 220 µg/m3 modeled to a typical school classroom.  The 500-µg/m3 value has some historical precedence, but in reality these numbers are simply 'pulled out of a hat.'   The chemicals used in manufacturing products are undergoing rapid change.  When the TVOC metric was first implemented as a metric for the Carpet & Rug Institute Green Label program in 1989, the chemicals used in manufacturing included aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents.  Today in the 21st century, most products do not use these traditional solvents because of concern regarding their toxicity.  Instead, we have an increasing emphasis on 'Green Chemistry' and widespread use of water-based solvent systems. Generally, these chemicals have lower toxicity than the solvents they are replacing but they also have lower vapor pressures.  Due to their low vapor pressures, the off gassing of these solvents occurs more slowly than for aromatic solvents, for example.  Thus, total VOC emissions will be higher, but in many cases toxicity can be presumed to be lower.  The use of a TVOC metric may, therefore, penalize products and inhibit government's and industry's efforts to switch to more sustainable chemistry.  These efforts are better served by focusing on the toxicity of the individual compounds.

US Proponents of TVOC have repeatedly pointed to European product testing methods and certification programs as a precedent for the use of TVOC.  While it is true than many European programs do contain a TVOC requirement, the values are often considerably higher than the values the proponents would like to impose on the US.  The most widely used European assessment document, the German AgBB ( scheme, relies mainly on criteria for a list of about 190 individual chemical substances.  The AgBB TVOC criteria at 3 days is 10,000 µg/m3, or 20 times a proposed 500 µg/m3 value measured at 7 or 14 days (note that a direct comparison is complicated by different testing methods and modeling assumptions, but the magnitude of the difference is approximately correct).  Clearly the dominant European assessment criteria focus on individual VOCs, NOT on TVOC.

Proponents of TVOC argue that there are tens of thousands of individual chemicals emitted by building products and furnishings that may be affecting our health, and due to this overwhelming number only a metric like TVOC is practical.  This is far from the truth.  There are many hundreds of chemicals in petroleum distillate fractions, e.g., Stoddard solvent.  Over the years, there has been a shift away from these solvent mixtures to simpler, manufactured mixtures with better controlled volatility and elimination of compounds that are of particular concern because of their toxicity.  The true number of chemicals that are frequently emitted by building products and furnishings probably number several hundred.  If this universe of chemicals can be identified (not difficult), it is a much more manageable task to evaluate the toxicology data to see which chemicals are of real concern for the general population and at what levels.

Proponents of TVOC also argue that there are many potential synergistic relationships among VOCs and that, again, only the use of TVOC can guard us against this danger. Such arguments regarding synergism are not founded on fact.  For example, while the hedonistic value of odor response can vary depending upon the mixture of chemicals, odor receptors are very specific for particular chemical functionality and size.  The mammalian sensory perception system (Trigeminal) is much more generalized.  However, the effects for VOCs with low reactivity (i.e., most of the VOCs that are measured by conventional methods) have been shown to be additive in both animal and human studies.  If there is a highly reactive VOC in the mixture, the sensory response is controlled by the reactive chemical, not the mixture.

Al Hodgson, Co-founder and Research Director, Berkeley Analytical Associates

Cement is one of the most carbon emissions intensive parts of today’s buildings, and more often than not, one of the most widely used materials in pure mass per unit of floor area. Cement manufacturing is estimated responsible for 5% of global CO₂ emissions.

California has placed the reduction of carbon emissions from concrete high on its agenda to meet its ambitious CO2 emission reduction goals. Wouldn’t it be lovely if concrete could actually store CO2 instead of being responsible for so much CO2

Next to one of the largest fossil fuel-fired power plants in the United States, at Moss Landing on the Monterey Bay, Calera is capturing CO2 from the power plant and using it to make cement. Calera founder Brent Constantz claims that each ton of Calera cement contains half a ton of CO2 transformed into an essential ingredient of cement. Constantz says his process is probably the best carbon capture and storage technique available.

Calera bubbles the CO2 through seawater to make calcium carbonate. The resulting water has the calcium and magnesium removed, making it even more suitable for desalination. Local agriculture in the region around Moss Landing is responsible for overdraughting the groundwater to support local agriculture, so a desalination plant is also an attractive option in conjunction with the electric power and cement plants. A pilot plant is being built in nearby Santa Cruz to address water shortages during drought years.

As the plant produces only ten tons of cement daily and its product’s structural performance still must be tested, it is too early to say the climate crisis is solved. But the technology has the promise of contributing substantially to dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases attributable to buildings. Seventy percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. goes to buildings, and electric power production is responsible for more than half of all GHG emissions. It would be lovely if Calera’s process turns out to be as economically and environmentally attractive as it appears to be so far.


You can read more about Calera. It is featured in an August 7 on-line article on Scientific American’s web site, the promise of Calera cement is described in more detail. 

The idea that plants clean indoor air is a sad, continuing saga fed by bad science, commercial interests, and wishful thinking.

I published an article in the Indoor Air Bulletin on the subject in 1992 (available on this web site) that provides some details.

Take home message:

1.   Don't use plants to improve IAQ. They don't. If anything, they pose risks to good IAQ.

2.   There is no credible scientific evidence that plants improve IAQ. The planting media has been hypothesized to be responsible for pollutant removal in some studies. The planting media alone can be expected to contribute to a limited reduction in some airborne chemical concentrations.

3.   Most advocates of indoor plant use have been funded by or are themselves providers of plants or supporting systems.

4.   If plants are used indoors for aesthetic reasons, there should be extra care to avoid moisture problems or problems with fertilizers and pesticides, all known sources of indoor air quality and health problems.

If you do have plants indoors, don't do it to improve indoor air quality. The pollutant removal effect is negligible and, as far as the science has shown, is not due to the plants but is due to adsorption on the soil and, possibly, uptake by the organisms in the root area of the plant. So, you could just put the planting mix in the space and use fans to move air through it. In one study, charcoal was added to the planting mix with fans moving the air, demonstrating that it was not the plants but the planting mix that was doing the removal.

The rate of removal by plants, even if you use the data from the one NASA research project ever done on it, is smaller than the removal of pollutants through the air exchange that takes place in a very tight building due to leakage through the envelope. If you will fill a house with three layers of the plants recommended by the advocates, the removal rate would be equal to 1/10th of an air change per hour (ach). Buildings with mechanical ventilation generally have a minimum ventilation rate of 0.5 air changes per hour. Offices using typical ASHRAE design values have about 0.8 ach.

The one. often-quoted NASA research project was done in static chambers, sealed chambers with no air exchange rates. This is not a scientifically sound way to investigate the removal rate of pollutants. A dynamic test involving an air change rate equal to those in real buildings and achieving steady state conditions is a far more relevant test. In a static chamber, a test over the time period in the NASA study would be dominated by the sink effects, removal from the air by adsorption to surfaces of the chamber and the plants. This does not give any idea about the removal rate obtained by plants in a real environment or even in a chamber over a normal period of on-going occupancy.

More recently published studies have been characterized by the use of static chambers or carelessness in the measurements of the environmental parameters. A paper presented at Indoor Air 2008 in Copenhagen last month actually showed a decrease in research subjects' task performance when plants were present.

The use of plants indoors, especially the "living wall" concept or other extensive use requiring periodic addition of moisture, creates substantial risks of moisture, mold, and bacteria problems in the air. There is a substantial risk of moisture-related problems including but not limited to mold in buildings with extensive plantings. The scientific evidence points more strongly to moisture than to mold as the relevant association in buildings with higher rates of asthma or allergy among the occupants. There are also risks from the use of fertilizers and pesticides, if required, in the indoor environment. We generally try to steer people away from plantings that require frequent irrigation, fertilizer, or pest control immediate around buildings, especially if there are operable windows.

Most of the favorable publicity around the use of plants comes from folks whose business it is to provide plants and/or the systems to support them. Try to check out your sources and the sources of funding for any study that they cite.

You can read a more extended discussion of plants and indoor air quality in an article posted on this web site under articles, "Can house plants solve indoor air quality problems?" It was originally published in my old newsletter, Indoor Air Bulletin, in 1992.

Because of the financial interest providers of the plants and supporting systems have, there continue to be many individuals innocently advocating the use of plants to improve indoor air quality. This is a problem that doesn't seem to go away because of the appeal of indoor plants and the myth that everything natural is good. Remember that many chemicals found in nature are poisonous, that many plants are poisonous and even deadly (e.g., digitalis) to humans and other living beings.

Natural insecticides such as those derived from chrysanthemums (pyrethrins) are allergenic to many people and are toxic to insects and, it appears likely, to humans.

The Wikipedia listing for pyrethrin says: "In humans, pyrethrin irritates the eyes, skin, and respiratory systems, and it may cause other harmful effects. One study suggested a link between maternal pyrethrin use and autism in children.

The study indicated that mothers of autistic children were twice as likely to have washed a pet dog with a flea shampoo containing pyrethrin while they were pregnant."

By the way, I have a few plants around me as I sit here typing,  but they are mostly orchids and cacti, not intended to or expected to clean the air. I tend to underwater them and rarely fertilize them. Of course they don't bloom as often as I'd like, but that's the trade-off for ensuring better IAQ.

Most calculations in the U.S. and throughout the world are based on an average annual value for the grid region, sub-region, or nation as a whole. Looking at the annual reporting under the UNFCC, there is a huge range of values used for conversion of electric consumption to GHG emissions, and some of the values are clearly highly inaccurate. Even where reasonably accurate annual average values are used, they do not reflect the variations in building operation in response to weather and over the course of the day, week, and year.

Furthermore, the electric grid itself has large temporal variations by hour, day of the week, and season. Different plants are on-line as "baseload" and are always on and others come on as needed. In some locations, the baseload generation is relatively "clean" (hydro and nuclear), and the peak load is relatively dirty (coal). In other locations it is exactly the opposite. Wind, solar, geothermal, and gas also play their roles to varying degrees.

The largest uncertainties in estimating GHG emissions from buildings come from the differences between design assumptions and actual building use and energy use intensity/performance. These could easily be on the order of a factor of 2 if they differ too much. For existing buildings, making retrofit or operational decisions, those uncertainties are far smaller and then the accuracy of the calculation of GHG emissions from electricity production probably contains the next highest source of uncertainty, although I have no data to support that assertion.

The time- and weather-dependent performance of the electric grid and of buildings requires an incredible amount of intensive manipulation of available data, some of which is of poor accuracy and low reliability. Matching historical data to the weather and time when the electricity was generate is non-trivial. Electric production is reported on an hourly basis in the U.S. but carbon emissions are reported on a monthly basis and are mostly based on calculation rather than measurement. There are huge discrepancies in the available reported data from the more than 4700 electricity generators in the U.S. These data are massaged by EPA to produce the annual average values that are used in the Energy Star program and for the U.S.'s international reporting.

Building use and operational assumptions are also important sources of uncertainty, and there are some efforts to address those issues in trying to improve the accuracy of building simulation models.

The only GHG emissions calculation tool that exists that can actually come even close to giving accurate numbers that reflect the temporal and climate dependencies of building operations and of GHG emissions from the grid is the California tool. If you haven't seen it, please do check it out -- it's free and downloadable. While it only works for California, the concept using a dispatch model can be replicated anywhere in the U.S. or elsewhere where future planning is reasonably reliable out into some number of future years. The GHG tool for Buildings, which E3 has been developing with the help of Martha Brook, is now available on the E3 website (the first link):

The alternative is to use historical data and to massage them to either create a representative year or to create a program that allows modeling under any assumed or projected set of climate and time schedule scenarios. If you look at the Synapse report, you will see that there are huge differences over the course of the year and even substantial differences over the course of the day. Based on analysis of data from the year 2005, Synapse showed that there can be differences as large as 60% between average annual values for GHG emissions/MWh electricity generation in some regions of the country. The report is titled: "ANALYSIS OF INDIRECT EMISSIONS BENEFITS OF WIND, LANDFILL GAS, AND MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE GENERATION" can be downloaded from

The potential range of emissions in tons GHG/MWh is very large. The distribution of hourly average emissions from the grid in New England in 2005 (from the Synapse report) clearly shows the huge variations and why annual average values cna be very misleading in making design or operational decisions. Similar vaiations occur in many other regions, and the inter-regional differences are also quite large (>2X in some cases).

The ideal, and this was the Statement of Work that came out of our ASHRAE GHG calculation tool committee's efforts last year, is to look at both the results of calculations based on a dispatch model (like the E3 tool) and the adjusted historical databased model (let's call it a "Synapse plus tool")and determine whether there are significant differences -- let's say more than 5% to 10%. There are plenty of other sources of uncertainty, so cutting it too fine in this kind of modeling does not make sense. But getting a sense of the magnitude of the differences would help us design the "ideal" tool construct.

Jeff Haberl of Texas A&M has worked with the available data in Texas, and he has helped me understand the complexities of getting these things right even when and where the data are available. Many of these can be overcome where good historical data and dispatch models are available, but they will take some well-focused work. Either of the past ASHRAE GHG Tool PC contractors, E3 or Synapse, is capable of doing this kind of work, and Jeff is also very knowledgeable about how to meet some of the challenges. There is also a need to be clear about site energy use intensity and source energy intensity, something for which Mike Deru at NREL has published reasonably good data (NREL Technical Report NREL/TP-550-38617, June 2007).
The stakes are too high to be making bad or poorly informed decisions any more, so let's get something robust developed that can move us ahead toward well-informed design, retrofit, and operational decisions for buildings.