MEP CA AB 1103

Sustainability: 2016 in Review and a Look Ahead

MEP Energy Star Certificationr2016 has been a massive year for growth and change in the Sustainability sector. From energy efficiency to resource conservation and international agreements, the push for a more sustainable global community has never been stronger. As the year draws to a close it is important for us to look back on the progress, breakthroughs, and changes we have made so that we can anticipate, prepare for, and influence what is to come.

2016 Policy
On the national as well as international stages, Sustainability has been a priority for world leaders and business interests alike. With the recent Paris Agreement and release of U.N.'s Sustainable Development Guide, a huge push is underway for nations to work together to conserve our limited resources and produce more renewable energy. The Paris Agreement was ratified in 2016 with the United States and China, two of the world's biggest polluters, both signing on. The United States also enacted the Clean Power Plan, which will decrease harmful emissions from our nation's power plants and set standards for fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

On the local scale city governments have been taking the lead and setting an example for national legislators. 2016 saw the creation of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy as well as the U.S. based Mayors National Climate Action Agreement. The Global Covenant of Mayors is a group of thousands of local and regional leaders in Europe, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean who have pledged to reduce their Green House Gas Emissions 40% by the year 2030.

This growth in smaller scale interest in Sustainability is increasing city governments' implementation of Sustainability policy and planning. Many cities are releasing detailed plans and reports on Sustainability in their region like Los Angeles' "PLAn" and Houston's Energy Efficiency in Buildings lab report. These reports give citizens access to information about the Sustainability efforts in their cities, and highlight the most crucial areas that need to be addressed.

Energy efficiency benchmarking has also been making great strides this year. The California Energy Commission has been drafting the new Assembly Bill 802 (AB 802), which is being implemented in stages. California's utility companies are already required to be keeping a record of their clients' utilities, but as of January 1st, 2017 these records must be provided to the customers upon request. Moving forward as of April 1st, 2018 commercial buildings covered by the law must begin benchmarking and reporting their gas and electric utility usage on an annual basis to the California Energy Commission, utilizing the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager system of reporting.

All in all these efforts signify the ever-increasing change in the national and global disposition toward Sustainability and the growing call for our cities, states, and nations to be mindful of it.

2016 Technology
Green technology is booming every bit as much as the demands for the sustainable future it enables. Some incredible breakthroughs have been made this year and the upward trend of the global green market does not seem to be slowing down. 2015 saw the largest ever investment in renewable energies ($286 million) and 2016 is expected to top even that.

From sea-born wind energy farms to 3D-printing and big data, our world is quickly changing in terms of the scale and accessibility of sustainable technology. Visionaries see a future where developing countries can 3D-print wind energy turbines, drone survey and repair our electricity grid, and connected sensors and artificial intelligence streamline our manufacturing, industrial, and urban infrastructure. We are even creating energy from our waste in landfills drawing from the products of microbial digestive processes within to convert the released gases to energy (some of which are considered harmful to the environment). Meanwhile other green tech is becoming more commonplace like solar energy for homes (even solar window panes), electric vehicles, smog-scrubbing towers, green highways, tidal power generators and an ever-expanding list of burgeoning innovations.

Trends in Market and Culture
2016 also showed positive trends for the green market and culture. Green bond sales are anticipated to be in the range of $100 billion, which is more than double the previous year. Solar energy technology is becoming increasingly affordable with the cost of installation of solar for homes decreasing by 8% in 2015 continuing the trend of the 73% drop since 2006.

Corporate Sustainability culture is also taking off from both the bottom up and the top down. More and more companies have been releasing statements about Sustainability and implementing efforts to do business more sustainably and efficiently. Google recently stated that it plans to run entirely on renewable energy in 2017. This is an impressive endeavor given the fact that the company consumed as much energy last year as the entire city of San Francisco.

Consumer demand for sustainably produced products has also been on the rise for the past decade. Many citizens are holding companies accountable for the products they produce and how they manufacture them. A recent Neilson survey had three out of four Millenials stating they would pay more for sustainably produced products, which is up from half compared to the previous year.

A Glimpse of What Lies Ahead
For the United States a new administration is taking charge leaving many speculating as to what the future holds. President-Elect Donald Trump has promised to increase our nation's spending on infrastructure. A portion of this spending could potentially be used for our nation's energy grid. Failing infrastructure and outdated and inefficient technologies have plagued our cities and caused unreliable utility service and waste. A combination of replacing failing energy grid components supplemented by “smartgrid” technology could allow our nation's energy grid to be renovated and become more efficient than ever before.

Policy and improvements in technology have helped diminish our global society's impact on the environment, but many hurdles remain. 70% of the world's energy use takes place outside of any efficiency performance requirements. The world's reliance on non-renewable resources is also still in full swing and slowly depleting our only stock of fossil fuels. Leadership from established world powers is key as new players develop and join the world stage. Our national and global communities need to work together to keep the movement toward a sustainable world going. As we continue to refine our technologies, processes, infrastructure and even personal habits we can ensure that our children have a bright (or rather green) future.

This blog article has been posted by Maximum Energy Professionals, a mechanical engineering firm located in Torrance, CA. For information on Sustainability Services including: ENERGY STAR utility benchmarking and award certification, California AB802 Compliance, ASHRAE energy audits, LEED, and energy conservation/green Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing design, please give us a call at 310-782-1410 or visit our website at