Equity in Clean Energy Transition
Communities of color, people with lower incomes, and indigenous people are on the frontlines of climate change. Yet frontline communities are often left out of or are the last to be included in the transition to a healthy, resilient and sustainable future. Front and Centered is a state-wide BIPOC led coalition. Their new report, Accelerating a Just Transition in Washington State: Climate Justice Strategies from the Frontlines, is intended to guide the Front and Centered coalition and its allies as we consider where to focus our work. Washington State’s Just Transition requires action in four key areas:
(1) Center Those Disproportionately Impacted in Governance
(2) Restore Community Connections to Place
(3) Create Livelihoods within a Healthy Environment
(4) Transition to Renewable Resources and Energy
Spark Northwest is a nonprofit organization partnering with communities to build an equitable clean energy future. Through renewable energy projects and policy reform Spark Northwest seeks to:
(1) Ensure everyone has access to affordable clean energy
(2) Increase the amount of distributed clean energy to achieve a Pacific Northwest that is 100% powered by renewable energy
(3) Increase access to clean energy for middle and low-income households
(4) Grow local economies and increase community resiliency through locally sourced energy projects
This national grant-maker and media-boosting organization has pledged to invest 95 percent of our resources in innovative frontline leadership of color, with at least 80 percent going to organizations led by women. Explore the interactive map to see what 100% renewable energy could look like where you live in the year 2050.
The BlueGreen Alliance unites labor unions and environmental organizations to solve today’s environmental challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a clean, thriving, and equitable economy.
The Green New Deal is a congressional resolution to mobilize every aspect of American society to 100% clean and renewable energy, guarantee living-wage jobs for anyone who needs one, and a just transition for both workers and frontline communities—all in the next 10 years.
Policy and Advocacy
A Policy Brief from the Governor's Office: Washington Enacts Strongest Clean Electricity Standard in the Nation.
The Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) became Washington state law in 2019. It commits Washington to an electricity supply free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The “rulemaking” that spells out the details of how the law will work has been in process since CETA was passed. This page provides background and many links.
This strategy offers a blueprint for how, by 2050, Washington can nearly eliminate the use of climate-threatening fossil fuels while continuing to maintain and grow a prosperous economy. The Executive Summary is a good place to begin. Other sections include: Equity, Transportation, Electricity, Buildings, Decarbonization Modeling, and Industry and Workforce.
The King County Green Building Ordinance 17709 outlines the following goals along with additional legal requirements:
(1) Ensure the planning, design, construction, remodeling, renovation, maintenance and operations of any King County owned or financed capital project is consistent with the latest green building and sustainable development practices
(2) Direct county departments to incorporate the use of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) green building rating system
(3) Establish a Green Building Team to provide education and guidance to county departments.
C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change. Around the world, C40 Cities connects 97 of the world’s greatest cities to take bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing 700+ million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe.
To address the global climate crisis, we need action and investments at every level of government, throughout the private sector, and in our communities. The broader West Coast region, spanning from California to British Columbia, stands as the world’s fifth largest economy and innovations here can make a significant difference around the globe. Climate Solutions is a nonprofit that focuses its work in the Pacific Northwest to pass and implement policies at the state level and in major jurisdictions using the tools of advocacy, research, communications and organizing outreach. Visit the Resource Library to learn more.
Climate Solutions uses policy based advocacy to advance a more sustainable future. Climate Solutions primarily works in the state legislatures, with the utility commissions and regulatory agencies, at times directly with voters on initiatives, and also with major counties and cities to drive down pollution and increase the uptake of needed solutions. One focus of theirs is clean energy.
Clean Energy Technologies
Easy to follow reports and excellent short videos from the US Department of Energy. Includes wind, utility-scale solar, solar PV distributed generation, LED Lighting, electric vehicles, building technologies, freight vehicles, and vehicle materials lightweighting.
Over the last few years, we’ve been in the midst of a clean energy revolution. New technologies, once unthinkably expensive to install and use, have become increasingly cost-competitive at a staggeringly fast clip. See these hopeful graphs from the Energy Department's report “Revolution Now,” which details five booming clean energy technologies.
The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report that confirms that the US can and must meet its climate goals by sharply phasing down fossil fuels throughout the economy by ramping up clean energy solutions such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and widespread electrification. To secure that clean energy transition, the report says, it is critical that we confront the racial and economic inequities inherent in our present energy system.
ENERGY STAR is an Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, new homes and commercial and industrial buildings and plants.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory focuses on creative answers to today's energy challenges, from breakthroughs in fundamental science to new clean technologies to integrated energy systems that power our lives, NREL researchers explore energy systems and technologies—and the science behind them—for a future powered by affordable, abundant, and clean energy.
A national clean-energy smart grid will use long-distance, extra-high-voltage transmission lines to move remote clean-energy resources to power load centers. This expanded and upgraded interstate transmission grid will connect to a modernized distribution system—enabled with digital technology—that delivers energy and detailed, real-time information about the use of such energy to consumers.
By the authors of “How Stuff Works.” It is the largest machine in the world -- an electric behemoth built on a skeleton of early 20th century engineering. The rest is a hodgepodge, a century's worth of innovations grafted onto an outdated framework. Yet, for the longest time, the U.S. power grid has slogged on unchanged and rarely challenged, with a growing population shackled to its hide by every electrical gadget and appliance imaginable.
Interested in automating your home but wondering where to start? This ENERGY STAR website helps you navigate the smart home landscape so you save energy, save money and help protect the environment.
International District Energy Association
The International District Energy Association (IDEA) works actively to foster the success of our members as leaders in providing reliable, economical, efficient, and environmentally sound district heating, district cooling, and combined heat and power. Check out their 2-minute videos on energy systems:
The Seattle 2030 District is a groundbreaking high-performance building district in downtown Seattle that aims to dramatically reduce environmental impacts of building construction and operations through education and collaboration across every sector of the built environment. Among the District Goals is a minimum of 20% reduction in energy use below the National median by 2020 with incremental targets, reaching a 50% reduction by 2030.
Learn more about how this group is advocating for how a consumer-owned utility (COU) can provide reliable electric power. Around the country, customers of COUs, like the proposed East King County PUD, pay an average 11% less than households that buy their power from investor-owned utilities such as PSE. Instead of maximizing investor returns, a PUD can prioritize customer satisfaction, low rates, and high reliability.
Aging electricity grids will require additional investments in climate resilience to provide customers with reliable service. Energy storage offers an innovative opportunity for utilities to modernize their electric grids, improve efficiency, and reduce vulnerability to extreme weather—preserving and conferring numerous benefits to customers. Specifically, energy storage technologies—such as batteries, flywheels, pumped hydropower, and compressed air storage—can provide states and utilities with additional means to support electric grids and services.
Nanosize batteries that are 80,000 times thinner than a human hair represent a promising new front. They could advance the use of electric vehicles, now limited by short driving ranges, and of renewable energy, which needs storage for times when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.
Powerwall gives you the ability to store energy for later use and works with solar to provide key security and financial benefits. Each Powerwall system is equipped with energy monitoring, metering and smart controls for owner customization using the Tesla app. The system learns and adapts to your energy use over time and receives over-the-air updates to add new features and enhance existing ones.
Net Zero Energy Buildings
Can a building behave like a living system? Like nature? Check out the case studies on this page and look for Net Zero Energy Buildings among the seven petals of the Living Building Challenge.
This Bullitt Center, right here in Seattle, is the greenest commercial office building in the world. The goal of the Bullitt Center is to drive change in the marketplace faster and further by showing what’s possible today. The era of harm reduction, half steps, and lesser evils is behind us. The Bullitt Center has met the rigorous performance standard set forth by the Living Building Challenge
The mission of this organization is to catalyze a just transition to zero carbon buildings for everyone in Washington State by advocating for policies and programs that maximize energy efficiency and eliminate emissions from buildings. Shift Zero is an alliance of organizations that educates decisionmakers about how proven design approaches and building technologies can be leveraged to create affordable access to high-performance, resilient buildings.
The urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions: buildings alone account for 39%. Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change. To accomplish this, Architecture 2030 set up The 2030 Challenge asking the global architecture and building community to adopt a set of rigorous standards. The goal is to rapidly transform the built environment from the major emitter of greenhouse gasses to a central solution to the climate emergency.
Zero net energy (ZNE) buildings are ultra-efficient new construction and deep energy retrofit projects that consume only as much energy as they produce from clean, renewable resources. Be sure to check out the Case Studies including several schools.
Located in Issaquah, Washington, zHome is a ten unit townhome project designed to achieve zero net energy, as well as a number of other environmental benchmarks. zHome was launched in 2006 as a market catalyst for deeply sustainable, climate neutral homes for the everyday person.
Solar radiation is light – also known as electromagnetic radiation – that is emitted by the sun. While every location on Earth receives some sunlight over a year, the amount of solar radiation that reaches any one spot on the Earth’s surface varies. Solar technologies capture this radiation and turn it into useful forms of energy. There are two main types of solar energy technologies—photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP).
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can generate clean, cost-effective power anywhere the sun shines. This video shows how a PV panel converts the energy of the sun into renewable electricity to power homes and businesses.
This graphic by Ecowatch illustrates the stunning relationship between the price of solar panels and the amount of installations worldwide.
The annual National Solar Jobs Census is a comprehensive review of employment and workforce development in the U.S. solar energy industry, nationwide and state by state. It is published by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). This report also includes information on jobs in the battery storage sector and other clean energy industries.
The Solar Jobs Census is based on a rigorous survey administered by BW Research for the U.S. Department of Energy’s United States Energy & Employment Report (USEER).
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office focuses on achieving the goals of the SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.
Community solar is a way for City Light customers to add solar to the grid and receive the benefits that come with owning solar panels, but at a size and cost that works for them. You don't need to own a system, and you don't even need to own a home.
Solarize Northwest brings clean and affordable solar energy to communities in Washington and Oregon. By partnering with community groups and local installers, Solarize Northwest helps neighbors come together to save time and money through the group purchase of solar systems.
Solar Roadways is an initiative aiming to convert flat surfaces (pavements, sidewalks, etc) into sources of renewable energy through solar power. Partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Roadways installs and develops solar technology. View their intro video here.
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) supports CSP research and development projects that work to improve the performance, reduce the cost, and improve the lifetime and reliability of materials, components, subsystems, and integrated solutions for CSP technologies. Learn more about how CSP works here.
This article by UCSUSA covers efforts made by the U.S. government as well as other groups to recognize solar power as a viable source of energy.
Satellites equipped with solar panels collect high intensity, uninterrupted solar radiation by using giant mirrors to reflect huge amounts of solar rays onto smaller solar collectors. This radiation is then wirelessly beamed to Earth in a safe and controlled way as either a microwave or laser beam. Includes a fun infographic explanation of how this works.
Wind power is a clean and renewable energy source. Wind turbines harness energy from the wind using mechanical power to spin a generator and create electricity.
Wind turbines have a higher energy yield than residential solar panels. Wind turbines can harness up to 50% of energy compared to 20% for solar panels. In fact, one wind turbine can generate the same amount of electricity in kWh compared to thousands of solar panel.
The Wind Energy Technologies Office invests in wind energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities that enable and accelerate the innovations needed to advance offshore, land-based, and distributed wind systems; reduce the cost of wind energy; drive deployment in an environmentally conscious manner; and facilitate the integration of high levels of wind energy with the electric grid.
If you have enough wind resources in your area and the situation is right, small wind electric systems are one of the most cost-effective home-based renewable energy systems -- with zero emissions and pollution. For more information view planning for a small wind electric system, and installing and maintaining a small wind electric system.
An analysis by the US Department of Energy with maps, charts and additional links covering new resources and technology for wind energy.
This New York Times Editorial covers putting windmills offshore, where the wind is stronger and more reliable than on land. Offshore windmills could theoretically provide about four times the amount of electricity as is generated on the American grid today from all sources.
Geothermal energy—energy derived from the heat of the earth—can be harnessed both as a source of renewable electricity as well as directly for heating and cooling applications. Geothermal power plants emit 97% less acid rain-causing sulfur compounds and about 99% less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel power plants of similar size.
The mission of the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is to increase geothermal energy deployment through research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that enhance exploration and production. We work in partnership with industry, academia, the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, and others on research, development, and demonstration.
This video covers how water furnaces, a geothermal type of heating, works in houses. The video also illustrates the advantages water furnaces have over typical heating systems.
Hydropower, or hydroelectric power, is one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy, which uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity. Hydropower currently accounts for 28.7% of total U.S. renewable electricity generation and about 6.2% of total U.S. electricity generation.
An excellent overview by the Foundation for Water and Energy Education, committed to providing balanced information regarding the use of water as a renewable energy resource in the Northwest.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office enables research, development, and testing of emerging technologies to advance marine energy as well as next-generation hydropower and pumped storage systems for a flexible, reliable grid.
Tidal energy is a renewable energy powered by the natural rise and fall of ocean tides and currents. Where the intensity of the water from the rise and fall of tides is a form of kinetic energy
National Geographic’s comprehensive overview of issues and opportunities related to harnessing the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides as a renewable source of energy.
Wave energy is a form of renewable energy that can be harnessed from the motion of the waves. There are several methods of harnessing wave energy that involve placing electricity generators on the surface of the ocean.
This resource includes the disadvantages and advantages of wave energy along with the future of the industry.
The world’s first wave power machine to be purchased by a utility company. On Friday 15th August 2014 Pelamis Wave Power celebrated the ten year anniversary since generating the world's first electricity from offshore wave power. This video celebrates some of the accomplishments since achieving that milestone.
Biomass is renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals. Biomass contains stored chemical energy from the sun that is produced by plants through photosynthesis. Biomass can be burned directly for heat or converted to liquid and gaseous fuels through various processes.
This resource covers the benefits of Biomass as a renewable energy source as well as further sources for research.
This resource by the U.S. Energy Information Association covers what biomass is as well as the environmental impacts of it.
The nation’s first regional stakeholder effort to explore the opportunities and challenges surrounding the production of sustainable aviation fuels.
This article covers the shift from petroleum fuel and the technological hurdles.
This Q&A is part of the Guardian's Ultimate climate change FAQ, this answer provides a definite definition for the hydrogen economy as well as how hydrogen fuel functions.
Nuclear Fusion and Fission
A scrolling infographic on the basics from the US Department of Energy
The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) mission is to advance nuclear energy science and technology to meet U.S. energy, environmental, and economic needs. NE has identified five goals to address challenges in the nuclear energy sector, help realize the potential of advanced technology, and leverage the unique role of the government in spurring innovation:
Enable continued operation of existing U.S. nuclear reactors.
Enable deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.
Develop advanced nuclear fuel cycles.
Maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear energy technology.
Enable a high-performing organization.
Each goal includes supporting objectives to ensure progress and performance indicators to measure success. Read more in the Office of Nuclear Energy Strategic Vision.