10 Steps to Help Access ARRA Funds for Energy Efficiency

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  10 Steps To Help Access ARRA Funds for Energy Efficiency  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  By: Tamara De La Fuente Tamara De La Fuente serves as National Communications Officer at Hüper Optik USA, an energy solutions and window film company, where she is responsible for media relations, and strategic and employee communications. Financial incentives abound for property owners, facility managers, and other professionals that arelooking to make their commercial buildings more energy efficient. Your state may be eligible for fundingthrough the $787 billion economic stimulus package we know as the American Recovery andReinvestment Act (ARRA). Whether you work for a manufacturer or distributor of energy efficientproducts, or you are part of a facility management team tasked with ‘greening’ a building, there are stepsyou can take to access these funds. There are two key areas for funding through the ARRA: thestate energy program (SEP) or the weatherization program (WAP). Your organization or group mayqualify for funds in either of these categories. Here’s a 10-step process that will get you started. Contact Your State Energy Office Your state energy office is the first stop to determine if your state has received ARRA funding for theEnergy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants Program (EECBGP). Visit the website, send thedirector or state energy manager an email, or get started with your particular brand of networking. Sign Up For Free Newsletters in the Energy Industry There are a plethora of professionally produced newsletters that you can receive directly in your in-boxthat will accomplish two goals: you’ll see and hear how other organizations are funding their energyprojects, and receive valuable information on everything from energy modeling, to promoting energyconservation within your organization. Become Familiar With the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for 2006 and 2009 The IECC Code is an integral part of most state energy programs: if you have even a layman’s familiarity,then you can count it among your competitive advantages. Most states have either adopted the 2006Code, or are in the process of adopting the 2009 Code, to varying degrees. The next revision of the IECCwill be in 2012. Join your local chapter of the USGBC, BOMA, or IFMA. Commonly known as the triumvirate of non-profit organizations promoting corporate sustainability andenergy efficiency, these three groups provide monthly luncheons and continuing education sessions thatcan help you stay abreast of funding, and energy efficient projects in your area. The U.S. Green BuildingCouncil, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the International Facility ManagementAssociation are all worth an investment of time and resources. Join committees on energy efficiency, either within your organization, or with a non-profit group. Committee work is a cost-effective way to get your company name out in the marketplace, and allows youto make valuable connections while assisting another organization, and meeting other professionals. Getyour worker bee hat on, and even tackle a position as committee chair. Sign up for tours of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or Energy Star Properties and Facilities. These tours are typically free or offered at a nominal cost, and provide aninside look at the different areas rated by both LEED and Energy Star. Ask questions (you may want toprepare a list ahead of time), request to meet the internal LEED or Energy Star team, and don’t forget tofollow up your tour or team interview with a written thank you note.  Share your information with others. The new ‘Green Economy’ is not just about changing our energy usage attitudes and recycling. It alsorequires a new ‘way of work’ that values sharing of ideas and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to share whatyou know with other energy consultants, energy engineers, architects, designers, vendors and legislators.This is truly a joint effort, and collaboration is the order of the day. Familiarize yourself with energy efficient products and technologies. If you’ve ever had an energyaudit completed for your property, or conducted one yourself, then you know that many different areaswork together to help seal a building’s envelope to ensure greater levels of energy efficiency. Everythingfrom ‘energy behaviors’ to heating and cooling and lighting systems are of interest to those managingtoday’s modern facilities. Here’s a short list of products that you should have a basic understanding of:radiant barrier products, lighting control systems, heating and cooling equipment, super insulatingwindows, window film, solar panels and screens. Offer to be a presenter on issues of energy efficiency. If you feel comfortable speaking in front of people, then put together a one-page speaker’s bio, and let your contacts know that you are available tospeak on issues of energy efficiency, environmentally friendly business practices, and sustainability. Youcan restrict the size of the audience or scope of the venue, by developing a ‘speaker’s specificationsheet.’ Start Blogging, and Keep Blogging. There are new developments in terms of collaborations, products,and legislation, virtually every day, in the arena of energy. Cultivate and maintain a presence on line, andbookmark a number of sites to keep your profile current. Make sure to steer clear of ranting and raving,keep your writing style succinct, clear and professional. A Few Final Thoughts Accessing ARRA funding can be daunting. One internet search and it’s easy to see the amount of information overload and ‘greenwashing’ published by well-meaning organizations. The simple stepsdescribed above are designed to help you get started, but remember, your journey toward your finaldestination of greater energy efficiency may have many stops along the way…. share what you havelearned, and stay receptive to newer ways of driving sustainable design and energy savings. 
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