State and Local Climate and Energy Program
Achievable Potential – The subset of technical potential that can realistically be achieved, taking into account real-world barriers and assuming the most aggressive program and policy scenario possible.
Adaptation - Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment. Adaptation to climate change refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. State and local governments can engage in various types of adaptation, including anticipatory or reactive adaptation, autonomous or planned adaptation, and adaptation for private or public environments.
Agricultural Conservation Easement – Keeps land in agriculture by paying farmers the difference between the farm value of their property and the market or development value. In return for the incentive, the farm owner must agree not to develop the property either for a specified period of time or in perpetuity.
Carbon Dioxide Equivalent – A metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP). Carbon dioxide equivalents are commonly expressed as “million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2Eq).” The carbon dioxide equivalent for a gas is derived by multiplying the tons of the gas by the associated GWP.
Circuit Rider Program – Involves designating one or more people to provide technical assistance to multiple local governments in a given county or region. The circuit rider is then responsible for assisting those communities with a range of planning functions, such as developing comprehensive plans, evaluating and revising codes and development regulations, analyzing policies, and reviewing project proposals.
Co–Benefits – The ancillary or additional benefits of policies that are implemented with a primary goal, such as climate change mitigation – acknowledging that most policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also have other, often at least equally important, benefits (e.g., energy savings, economic benefits, air quality benefits, public health benefits). Also referred to as “multiple benefits.”
Combustion or Incineration – A burning process that reduces waste volume. In addition to reducing volume, combustors, when properly equipped, can convert water into steam to fuel heating systems or generate electricity.
Complete Streets – Requires agencies to balance the needs of all users—including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit riders, older people, children, and those with disabilities—in the planning, design, and construction of all transportation projects.
Compost – Organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.
Composting – Composting produces a useful product from organic waste that otherwise would have been landfilled. Since these materials are not landfilled, composting helps prevent methane and leachate formulation in the landfills.
Deemed Savings – An approach to estimating energy and demand savings, usually used with programs targeting simpler efficiency measures with well–known and consistent performance characteristics. This method involves multiplying the number of installed measures by an estimated (or deemed) savings per measure, which is derived from historical evaluations. Deemed savings approaches may be complemented by on-site inspections.
Distributed Generation – Small, modular, decentralized, grid–connected or off–grid energy systems located in or near the place where energy is used (e.g., combined heat and power, photovoltaic [PV] panels).
District Improvement Financing – Taps the anticipated benefits of future development (such as increased property tax revenues) to direct tax dollars toward redevelopment districts.
Economic Potential – The subset of technical potential that is economically cost–effective (e.g., as compared to conventional supply-side energy resources). Estimates of economic potential do not address market barriers to implementation.
Energy Performance Contracts – A contract with an energy services company (ESCO) to implement a set of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and/or distributed generation measures that are repaid through the energy savings generated from the project.
Energy Recovery – Energy recovery is the process of obtaining energy from combusted material, including at waste-to-energy combustion facilities and landfill-gas-to-energy facilities. It is often associated with electricity generation, although it can also offset fossil fuels used at industrial sites.
Environmental Revenue Streams – Funding streams created to monetize environmental benefits that can be quantified. For example, carbon offset payments or renewable energy certificates (RECs).
Financing District / Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) – Allows private property owners to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary tax assessment that is tied to the property rather than the owner.
Global Warming Potential (GWP) – The cumulative radiative forcing effects of a gas over a specified time horizon resulting from the emission of a unit mass of gas relative to a reference gas. The GWP-weighted emissions of direct greenhouse gases in the U.S. Inventory are presented in terms of equivalent emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Home Energy Rating – Home Energy Rating is an analysis of a home's construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home's plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficiency software package to perform an energy analysis of the home's design. This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bldrs_lenders_raters.nh_2011_comments
Housing Rehabilitation Codes – Take into account that renovation of existing (particularly historic) buildings requires more flexibility in meeting code requirements than new structures. Creating a rehabilitation code makes it easier for developers to reuse existing buildings, thereby saving energy and preserving community heritage.
Impact Evaluation – Quantifies the direct and indirect benefits of a program or project and determines the quantity of energy and/or demand saved.
Landfills – Landfills are well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations. Solid waste landfills must be designed to protect the environment from contaminants which may be present in the solid waste stream. The landfill siting plan prevents the siting of landfills in environmentally-sensitive areas and provides additional safeguards.
Lease–Purchase Agreements – An agreement that allows public entities to finance purchases and installation over long–term periods using operating budget dollars rather than capital budget dollars by selling property or equipment and leasing it back without a change in occupancy or use.
Main Street Programs – Community–driven efforts to revitalize older business districts based on their unique assets, such as distinctive historic architecture, pedestrian–friendly environments, personal services, local ownership, and a sense of community.
Market Evaluation – Determines changes that have occurred in the marketplace and evaluates how the market is different as a result of the program.
Measured Savings – An approach to estimating energy and demand savings, usually for larger or more complex program strategies. Estimates of energy (and/or demand) savings are calculated using one or more of the following techniques – engineering methods; statistical analyses; computer simulation of system performance; metering and monitoring; and/or integrative methods.
Mitigation – An intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gas emissions.
Participant Cost Test – Compares the benefits of participating in an efficiency program (e.g., savings on energy bills) to the costs of participation (e.g., any increases in up–front costs) for either a “typical” customer or all participating customers in aggregate.
Process Evaluation – Indicates how to improve the structure and delivery of a program or project.
Program Administrator Cost Test (also called utility cost test or energy systems test) – Evaluates the impacts of efficiency initiatives on the administrator or energy system.
Program Potential – The efficiency potential possible given specific program funding levels and designs.
Public Benefits Funds (PBF) / System Benefits Charges (SBC) – A pool of resources typically created by levying a small fee or surcharge on customers' electricity rates, which can then be used by states to invest in clean energy.
Ratepayer Impact Measure Test – Evaluates impacts on customer rates by evaluating changes in utility revenues and operating costs.
Recycling – Turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental, and social returns including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Redevelopment Readiness Certification – Older communities that have lost people and jobs can increase the likelihood of redevelopment by updating codes and development regulations, streamlining their development review process, and making their planning process more predictable. States can support this reform by certifying communities as “Redevelopment Ready,” providing a stamp of approval that can attract developers.
Renewable Energy – Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. In its various forms, it derives directly from the sun, or from heat generated deep within the earth. Included in the definition is electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, ocean, hydropower, biomass, geothermal resources, and biofuels and hydrogen derived from renewable resources.
Reuse – Reuse refers to reusing a product by its original user or someone else without additional processing.
Revolving Loan Funds – A capitalized fund, typically maintained by a state government, that provides low–interest loans for energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy, and distributed generation. As the loans are repaid, they are deposited back into the fund for redistribution as subsequent loans.
Safe Routes to School – Helps states and communities assess bike and pedestrian conditions around schools, and then facilitate the infrastructure and program changes needed to make the routes safer.
Smart Growth – Smart growth covers a range of development, land use planning and conservation strategies that help protect our natural environment and make our communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse. Smart growth development is town-centered, transit and pedestrian oriented, and has a greater mix of housing, commercial and retail uses. It also preserves open space and many other environmental amenities.
Smart Sites – Internet–based program to market land the state has an interest in developing. A “smart sites” database should include meaningful information on site characteristics, as well as federal, state, and local incentives available for redevelopment.
Societal Cost Test – A variation of the total resource cost test that includes monetized effects of externalities benefits and may use a “social” discount rate that is lower than that used in the total resource cost test.
Societal Net Benefit – The result of subtracting the total costs to society of a program or policy from the total benefits to society.
Source Reduction – Source Reduction refers to any change in the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products (including packaging) to reduce their amount or toxicity before they become municipal solid waste. Source reduction also refers to the reuse of products or materials.
Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) – An environmentally beneficial project that an environmental violator voluntarily agrees to undertake in settlement of a civil penalty action.
Technical Potential – The theoretical maximum amount of energy use that could be displaced by the technology being evaluated (e.g., energy efficiency, combined heat and power) disregarding all non–engineering constraints.
Total Resource Cost Test – Compares the present value of all costs of efficiency for all members of society compared to the present value of benefits to assess the impacts of a portfolio of energy efficiency initiatives on the economy at large.
Utility Infrastructure Pricing to Support Infill Development – Revising utility pricing and cost recovery structures to reflect the true cost of energy delivery supports development in existing communities. It is less expensive to provide energy service for infill development than to provide service for greenfield sites that require additional power lines. Compact development also consumes less energy per unit.
Walk to School Day – Event to promote physical activity, safety, and concern for the environment that can increase opportunities for students to walk to school and begin identifying the barriers that can make walking to school unsafe.
State and Regional Policy Tracking Definitions
Advanced Coal Technology – Advanced coal technology, such as integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), can achieve higher power generation efficiencies than conventional power generation technologies. Additionally, when oxygen is used in the IGCC gasifier (rather than air), the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the process is in a concentrated gas stream, making it easier and less expensive to capture. Once the CO2 is captured, it can be sequestered (i.e., prevented from escaping to the atmosphere).
Building Codes for Energy Efficiency—Commercial Programs – Building energy codes establish energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings, thereby setting a minimum level of energy efficiency and locking in the energy savings at the time of new construction or renovation. Codes typically specify requirements for “thermal resistance” in the building shell and windows, minimum air leakage, and minimum heating and cooling equipment efficiencies.
Building Codes for Energy Efficiency—Residential Programs – Building energy codes establish energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings, thereby setting a minimum level of energy efficiency and locking in the energy savings at the time of new construction or renovation. Codes typically specify requirements for “thermal resistance” in the building shell and windows, minimum air leakage, and minimum heating and cooling equipment efficiencies.
Carbon Dioxide Offset Requirements – Power plant carbon dioxide (CO2) offset requirements mandate that electric generators retire CO2 emission credits (frequently procured through funding offset projects) equivalent to a percentage of their annual emissions.
Climate Change Action Plan – A climate change action plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a state's response to climate change, tailored to the state's specific circumstances. It typically includes a detailed emission inventory; baseline and projected emissions; a discussion of the potential impacts of climate change on the state's resources; opportunities for emission reductions; emission reduction goals; and an implementation plan. It also usually identifies and recommends policy options based on criteria such as emission reduction potential, cost–effectiveness, and political feasibility.
Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards – Similar to renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency portfolio standards (EEPS) require that energy providers meet a specific portion of their electricity demand through energy efficiency within a particular timeframe (e.g., reduce electricity demand 10 percent between 2008 and 2012).
Greenhouse Gas Auto Standards – A greenhouse gas auto standard establishes fleet average GHG emission requirements for vehicles, such as passenger cars and light trucks. Expressed in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents, the standard can take into account GHG emissions directly emitted (e.g., operation of vehicle, leakage of refrigerants from AC unit) and upstream emissions associated with the production of the fuel used by the vehicle.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory – A greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory is an accounting of the amount of GHGs emitted to and removed from the atmosphere over a specific period of time (e.g., one year). A GHG inventory provides information on the activities that cause emissions and removals, as well as background on the methods used to make the calculations.
Greenhouse Gas Performance Standard – A power sector greenhouse gas (GHG) performance standard is a requirement that all new power plants have emission characteristics equivalent to or better than the established standard (e.g., the most efficient combined cycle plant).
Greenhouse Gas Registry – A greenhouse gas (GHG) registry is an official repository to which an entity reports emissions of one or more GHGs or changes in emission levels, typically annually. Participants can include companies reporting entity–wide or on a project–by–project basis; all or parts of state government operations; individuals; or other parties responsible for emissions or emission reductions. A GHG registry is subject to reporting and verification requirements to ensure data consistency and quality, and registries can support voluntary or mandatory reporting requirements.
Interconnection Standards—Clean Distributed Generation – Standard interconnection rules for distributed generation (DG), including renewable energy and combined heat and power (CHP), establish clear and uniform processes and technical requirements that apply to utilities within a state. Interconnection standards reduce uncertainty and prevent time delays that DG systems can encounter in obtaining approval to connect to the grid.
Interconnection Standards—Net Metering – Net metering provisions can be considered a subset of interconnection standards for small–scale projects. When distributed generation (DG) output exceeds the site's electrical needs, the utility might pay the customer for excess power supplied to the grid or have the net surplus carry over to the next months' bill.
Lead by Example Target – A lead by example greenhouse gas (GHG) target for government operations is a commitment to reduce government GHG emissions to a specified level by a certain timeframe (e.g., 1990 levels by 2020).
Lead By Example—Clean Energy Goals for Public Facilities – Clean energy purchasing or generation goals require facilities to obtain a certain percentage of electricity usage from renewable sources, or a minimum clean energy purchase volume (in megawatt-hours [MWh]), by a given date. They also might involve goals for self–generation of clean or efficient energy, such as clean distributed generation or combined heat and power (CHP).
Lead By Example—Energy Efficiency and Alternative Fuel Goals for Public Fleets – State lead by example measures for public fleets are structured in a number of ways, including establishing overall energy reduction goals for the state fleet; requiring that a percentage of the state fleet or all new purchases be hybrid, fuel–efficient, or capable of running on alternative fuels; and requiring that the state fleet purchase and use alternative fuels.
Lead By Example—Energy Efficiency in Public Facilities – A policy to promote energy efficiency in public facilities can be structured in various ways. For example, a policy can establish a goal to reduce energy consumption in existing facilities by some stated percentage within a set timeframe; create a requirement that new or renovated buildings meet certain energy-per-square-foot usage (energy budget); or place energy efficiency design requirements on new or remodeled buildings. It can also require specific energy efficiency measures in state facilities or require state agencies to develop and implement energy efficiency strategies.
Lead By Example—Energy Efficient Appliance and Equipment Purchase Requirements for Public Facilities – These standards require that equipment purchased for or installed in public facilities meet certain energy efficiency standards, such as ENERGY STAR or other standards, that can potentially cover a wide range of products (e.g., lighting, HVAC equipment, office equipment).
Low Carbon Fuel Standard – A low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) for transportation fuels is a policy to encourage the utilization of low carbon fuels (measured on a full life–cycle basis) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.
Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting – Mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting requires applicable companies and organizations to report their GHG emissions to a state regulatory body, usually on an annual basis. The establishing legislation typically specifies the sectors (e.g., electric generation) and the size of facilities that are covered.
Output-Based Environmental Regulations – Output-based environmental regulations (OBR) relate emissions to the productive output of a process. Establishing emission limits on an output basis (i.e., units of pollutant per unit of useful output [pounds per megawatt-hour, lb/MWh]) recognizes efficiency improvements as pollution prevention.
Power Sector Greenhouse Gas Cap and Trade – A power sector greenhouse gas (GHG) cap and trade program is a market-based policy tool for regulating GHG emissions from the power sector. A cap and trade program first sets a cap, or maximum limit, on emissions. Sources covered by the program then receive authorizations to emit in the form of emission allowances, with the total amount of allowances limited by the cap. Each source can design its own compliance strategy to meet the overall reduction requirements, such as selling or purchasing allowances, installing pollution controls, and implementing efficiency measures. A cap and trade program does not specify individual control requirements, but each emission source must surrender allowances equal to its actual emissions in order to comply.
Public Benefit Funds for Clean Energy Supply – Public benefits funds (PBFs), or clean energy funds, are typically created by levying a small fee or surcharge on electricity rates paid by customers (i.e., system benefits charge [SBC]). The resulting funds can be used to support clean energy supply (i.e., renewable energy and combined heat and power [CHP]).
Public Benefit Funds for Energy Efficiency – Public benefit funds (PBFs) for energy efficiency are a pool of resources used by states to invest in energy efficiency projects, and are typically created by levying a small charge on customers' electricity rates (i.e., a system benefits charge [SBC]). PBFs, also known as clean energy funds, provide an annual revenue stream to fund energy efficiency programs.
Regional Initiatives – Regional initiatives are designed to encourage regional collaboration in addressing climate change. They can include new initiatives specifically established for that purpose (e.g., Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI]), or can arise from already established regional governance systems (e.g., New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers [NEG/ECP]).
Renewable Portfolio Standards – A renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires electric utilities and other retail electricity providers to supply a specified minimum percentage (or absolute amount) of customer load with eligible sources of renewable electricity (e.g., 20 percent by 2015).
State Advisory Board – A state advisory board is typically established by the governor and given the task of formulating recommendations on how the state should address climate change. The board's work can include: developing an emission inventory; projecting future emissions based on expected population, economic growth, and other factors; analyzing mitigation and adaptation options; and recommending specific greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. A state advisory board typically includes state planners, policy analysts, natural resource specialists, environmentalists, and representatives from the private sector. Their expertise often represents a range of disciplines (e.g., engineering, science, economics, policy analysis) and sectors (e.g., energy, transportation, agriculture, forestry).
State and Regional Energy Planning – A state or regional energy plan is a strategic effort to develop and promote energy goals and formulate related policies and programs. Energy plans can include a number of elements, such as: 1) identifying and promoting a package of cost-effective options to meet energy, environmental, and economic goals; 2) recognizing and assessing a full range of short- and long-term benefits from energy efficiency, renewables, and clean distributed generation; and 3) helping state agencies from different states within a region coordinate their efforts to better achieve complementary goals.
State Appliance Efficiency Standards – State appliance efficiency standards establish minimum energy efficiency levels for equipment and other appliances that are not covered by federal efficiency standards. Appliance efficiency standards typically prohibit the sale of less efficient models within a state.
Statewide Greenhouse Gas Cap – A statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) cap is a comprehensive, regulatory commitment to reduce statewide GHG emissions to a specified level during a certain timeframe (e.g., 1990 levels by 2020). Such an approach can include adopting regulations to require GHG emission reporting and verification, and establishing authority for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the program. An emission cap can be combined with emission trading into a “cap and trade” program.
Statewide Greenhouse Gas Target – A statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) target is a non-regulatory commitment to reduce statewide GHG emissions to a specified level by a certain timeframe (e.g., 1990 levels by 2020). Such targets can be included in legislation, but are more typically established by the governor in an executive order or a state advisory board in a climate change action plan.