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January 5, 2011
By Claudene Wharton
In accepting funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Nevada agreed to attain 90 percent compliance with new building energy codes for new construction and remodel projects by 2017. The state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority recently sought the assistance of the University of Nevada, Reno in preparing a proposal to help it reach this goal.
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory, awarded $347,504 to the Authority, and now the University’s Business Environmental Program at the College of Business will partner with the Builders Association of Northern Nevada, K energy and the Authority to design and implement a plan of action.
“There is a lot to be done,” explained Hatice Gecol, Nevada Energy commissioner and head of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority, who is overseeing the effort. “The counties’ and cities’ building departments need to be brought into the loop, be familiar with the codes if they aren’t already, and incorporate the codes into their processes,” she explained, “and the design professionals and contractors need to be offered training and education as well.”
Dick Bartholet, director of research development at the University’s Center for Regional Studies who is helping to coordinate the effort, said the Builders Association of Northern Nevada “has been a leading proponent of doing this,” and is a key partner, reaching out to their cohorts and helping to organize trainings. Bartholet said one of the first steps is to hold a series of stakeholder meetings to get feedback and hear concerns from governmental officials, contractors and the general public. Then, there will be a series of trainings held and video-conferenced throughout the state, using the offices and equipment of the University’s Cooperative Extension and the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Although it will take a lot of time and effort to get the entire state into compliance with the new building energy-efficiency codes, Bartholet says it is not only the right thing to do in order to honor the agreement we made when we accepted the ARRA funds and to conserve energy, but that it also makes sense economically.
“Adopting and complying with the new building codes is, in a sense, the most affordable way to pay for energy,” he said. “Other than renewable energy, all the power and heating we do in Nevada comes from importing fossil fuels from other states, which means we are exporting dollars to those states. So, the more energy-efficient we become, the more money we keep in Nevada.”
Stakeholder meetings will be held next week at NV Energy offices in Reno on Jan. 11 and in Las Vegas on Jan. 12. County and city building officials should plan to attend, as well as those in the industry. The public is welcome. Meetings will begin at 8:30 a.m. and preregistration is requested by contacting Emily Nunez at the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority, firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 684-5687.
For industry training dates and details, interested parties should call John Handzo, project manager at the Nevada Small Business Development Center, located at the University’s College of Business, email@example.com, (775) 689-6674 or (800) 882-3233.