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Research Highlights

New Clean Energy Program Policy Brief—Boulder, Colorado's SmartRegs for Residential Rental Housing

EETD researchers have released a Clean Energy Policy Brief about Boulder, Colorado's SmartRegs ordinances.

Middle Income report cover

In 2011 the City of Boulder, Colorado enacted its "SmartRegs" ordinances that require all single-family and multifamily rental properties to meet a minimum energy-efficiency standard by January 2019. The SmartRegs initiative is designed to help the city achieve its ambitious carbon emissions-reduction goals and to improve the quality, safety, and marketability of Boulder's rental housing stock.

The effort involved two years of extensive stakeholder engagement and a sophisticated strategy that included dividing the SmartRegs provisions among three different ordinances to improve the chances that at least some components would be approved. All three ordinances ultimately won community and city council support by including a long (eight-year) compliance period, offering financial incentives and technical assistance to building owners, and providing owners with a streamlined prescriptive process for meeting compliance.

One year after the regulations went into effect, the city had handily exceeded its first-year goals of 1,000 units inspected and 500 units achieving compliance. The program is also experiencing an unexpected bonus: some property owners are voluntarily choosing to upgrade beyond the minimum requirements. Given its broad support and successful early rollout, SmartRegs shows promise for overcoming transaction costs and reducing barriers to energy-efficiency gains in the residential rental sector.

You can download the policy brief here or at the Middle Income website.


The 80% Solution for Greenhouse Gas Emissions in California

An article just published in Issues in Science and Technology, a journal of the National Academy of Sciences, summarizes what California will need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below the 1990 level. In the article, Jane Long, co-chair of the California's Energy Future committee, and Jeff Greenblatt, a scientist in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, discuss the results of the California Energy Futures Project of the California Council of Science and Technology. They write "the technology and knowledge exist to take the state most of the way to its ambitious 2050 goal, but more research will be needed in a few key areas to achieve full success."

Download the article, "The 80% Solution: Radical Carbon Emission Cuts for California."

Get the full-length report, California's Energy Future - The View to 2050, from the California Council for Science and Technology. It was released in 2011.

California's Energy Future: Electricity from Renewable Energy and Fossil Fuels with Carbon Capture and Sequestration

A report released by the California Council for Science and Technology examines pathways for achieving California's aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target. The report, titled California's Energy Future: Electricity from Renewable Energy and Fossil Fuels with Carbon Capture and Sequestration, looks at how California could achieve GHG reductions 80% below the 1990 level by 2050 through electricity generation from fossil fuel combustion with carbon dioxide capture and sequestration (fossil/CCS) or renewable energy technologies (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydropower).

Jeffery Greenblatt

Jeffery Greenblatt

Jeffery Greenblatt

The report by Jane Long, co-chair of California's Energy Futures Committee, Jeffery Greenblatt of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Bryan Hannegan of the Electric Power Research Institute, is a follow-up to the study California's Energy Future— The View to 2050, published in May 2011. The analysis first estimated how emissions could be reduced through modifications to demand, including aggressive efficiency and electrification.

The authors developed two scenarios of electricity demand in the state through 2050. In the first, they assumed that maximum electricity demand that would result from business-as-usual plus economic and population growth, without aggressive efficiency measures, but using very high levels of electrification. In this case, the total demand for electricity would be about 1,200 terawatt-hours/year (TWh/yr), with average generation of about 130 gigawatts (GW). In the second case, they used a much smaller estimate of demand that included aggressive, but realistic, amounts of both efficiency improvement and electrification in all energy sectors. The resulting demand for electricity is about 500 TWh/yr, with average generation of about 60 GW. By comparison, California's electricity demand in 2005 was about 270 TWh/yr.

The report assumes there are three major ways to provide the rest of the electricity: nuclear power, fossil/CCS, and more renewable energy. It focuses on the latter two solutions. There is also a section exploring approaches for implementing load balancing without GHG emissions.

The report concludes that:

  • Developing generation capacity is not a technical issue. Generation capacity to meet either the high or low level of demand could be developed with any of the three electricity supply choices.
  • All of the electricity cases require load balancing to address peaking, ramping, and intermittency of electricity supply resulting from the inherent variability of wind and solar resources. The use of natural gas for load balancing at the scales envisioned to be necessary in 2050 would produce significant amounts of GHG emissions. This problem is significantly larger for intermittent renewable energy.


The California Council on Science and Technology is publishing a series of reports detailing the results of its Clean Energy Futures project exploring the remaining challenges—and possible solutions—to achieving California's ambitious GHG target. This is the third follow-up to its initial Summary Report published last year. Additional reports will be released later this year.

Download the report, California's Energy Future: Electricity from Renewable Energy and Fossil Fuels with Carbon Capture and Sequestration from the California Council on Science and Technology website.

Berkeley Lab Chosen to Lead U.S.-India Clean Energy Research Center

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has been selected to lead a new joint U.S.-India research center focusing on energy-efficiency technologies for buildings. It is one of three consortia that will make up the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC). The other two consortia will focus on biofuels (led by the University of Florida) and solar energy (led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with participation by Berkeley Lab). Together, these three groups will receive a total of $5 million this year from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop clean energy technologies.

Ashok Gadgil

Berkeley Lab's U.S.-India Joint Center for Building Energy Research and Development (CBERD) will conduct research with Indian counterparts focused on the integration of information technology with building systems in commercial and high-rise residential buildings. Berkeley Lab also will collaborate with a number of academic and third-party partners, some of whom will provide matching funding and in-kind contributions. The project will enable researchers to take advantage of test beds for buildings technologies at Berkeley Lab.

This work offers enormous potential for reducing energy use in both countries, and is of particular importance in India. "India has an opportunity to leapfrog other countries and build cities with a new generation of high-performance buildings," said Ashok Gadgil, head of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division and CBERD director. "This collaboration between two of the world's largest economies can not only spur technology breakthroughs but also create new market opportunities for U.S. companies."

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