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Blog Category: Energy

Commerce Department Installs Solar Panels on Headquarters for First Time

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Officials atop the HCHB in Washington with solar panels

The Department of Commerce this week installed three solar panels on the roof of its headquarters, the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) in downtown Washington, D.C. The first of its kind for the building, the installation is part of Commerce’s efforts to increase its use of renewable energy and commitment to environmental stewardship.

The installation also supports President Obama’s December 5 memo challenging federal agencies to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Two Commerce agencies–the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)–have already installed solar panels on some of their facilities in recent years. The Department is challenging all Commerce bureaus to pursue renewable energy, implement energy conservation campaigns, and lead by example as good stewards of the environment.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Visits SolarDock to Highlight President's Clean Energy and Manufacturing Initiatives

SolarDock founder Scott Johnson and MJM Fabrications President Mike Molder give Lt. Gov Matt Denn and Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank a tour of their facilities

Today Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank today visited SolarDock, a Wilmington, Delaware-area company that designs, manufactures and installs next generation solar power systems. She met with SolarDock founder Scott Johnson, partner Edward O’Brien, and employees and tour the manufacturing facility, along with Delaware Lieutenant Governor Matthew Denn.

Blank’s visit highlighted the President’s plans to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and foster a new era of American energy development. In the State of the Union, the President proposed reducing tax rates for American manufacturers and doubling the tax deduction for high-tech manufacturers. He also called for Congressional action on clean energy tax credits and laid out a proposal for new incentives to encourage manufacturers to make energy efficiency upgrades that would save $100 billion on the nation’s energy bills.

Blank discussed the Department’s efforts to support American manufacturers, so they’re better able to build their products in America and sell them all around the globe. The Commerce Department currently helps support manufacturers in several ways, including recently creating the National Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Program Office to bring together stakeholders and drive investments and initiatives in advanced manufacturing. Meanwhile, the Department’s trade specialists, who are located in offices throughout the country and in more than 70 nations around the world, work daily to connect U.S. businesses looking to export to buyers overseas, and Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office helps businesses and entrepreneurs transform their ideas into new products and innovations.

Watch WHYY's video of her visit.

Commerce’s NIST Announces U.S. and EU to Partner on Next Generation Electrical Grids

Image of grid interactive PV system installed on a utility pole (Photo: Energy.Sandia.gov)

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the European Union’s (EU) Smart Grid–Coordination Group jointly announced today their intention to work together on Smart Grid standards development to ensure a consistent set of international standards that can efficiently deliver reliable, economical and sustainable electricity services on both sides of the Atlantic.

The new collaboration is meant to ensure that Smart Grid standards on both continents have as much in common as possible, so that devices and systems that interact with these grids can be designed in similar fashion. Smart Grids are expected to ease the incorporation of renewable energy sources, energy saving devices and electric vehicles into the power system. Overall goals include the reduction of carbon emissions and security of supply.  Announcement

Green Buildings, Green Jobs: A Closer Look at the Clean Energy Economy

Image of covered walkway (iStock photo)

Guest blog by Andrew Bennett, International Trade Specialist and Smart Grid Industry Analyst at Commerce's International Trade Administration in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries.

With the Department of Commerce focused on winning the future and driving the president’s vision for a growing clean energy economy, it’s good to see early results from these efforts in the form of the green jobs of today. Green Buildings is a key sector where we’re laying the foundations for the green jobs of the future.

Last month, Siemens USA announced 400 new positions across 39 states in its green technologies division, which is focused on helping cities across the country reduce energy costs through the implementation of a host of green building technology systems.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, MTC Logistics is working with Virginia-based solar energy services provider HelioSage and Southern Energy Management, a green building services company from North Carolina, to build one of the largest roof mounted solar installations in the state of Maryland.

These ambitious green building projects not only create jobs, they also drive innovation, cut costs for businesses and government and help achieve important environmental benefits.

Commerce’s EDA Partners with Fraunhofer USA, Boston City Leaders to Build Sustainable Energy Research and Innovation Center

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA, and local leaders at the groundbreaking of the $19.5 million Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Boston’s Innovation District.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez was in Boston this week with Mayor Thomas Menino for the groundbreaking of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, a sustainable energy research and building innovation center at 5 Channel Center in Boston's Innovation District. The 50,000-square-foot facility will support area entrepreneurs and advance the commercialization of sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $3.5 million to Fraunhofer USA in 2009 to support the project, which is expected to create an estimated 180 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment. The applied research facility and building technology showcase will serve as a unique factory of innovation in support of established companies and startups that are developing and demonstrating the next generation of energy efficiency technologies.

Boston city leaders hope the Center will become a living laboratory, attracting building technology pacesetters from around the country and the international business community to demonstrate the future of sustainable buildings. The project serves as an innovation platform for collaborative research and development activities in the region, as well as an enduring pipeline for new technologies and startup companies.

“The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration is pleased to work with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA and local leaders to help build the $20 million Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which will serve as a catalyst for job and economic growth in the region,” Fernandez said. “This smart investment to advance the development of the 5 Channel Center and commercialize sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems will provide a much needed boost to the local economic ecosystem as new businesses are attracted to the community.”

Commerce Commits to Environmental Management

Green arrows symbolizing reduce-reuse-recycleThe Department of Commerce has recently sponsored several initiatives to green the economy and enhance renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean technology trade around the globe.  But the Department is also working internally to green its operations.  On December 9 Secretary Locke signed a new environmental policy renewing the Department of Commerce’s commitment to sustainability and environmental management (PDF).  The policy commits the Department to considering environmental impacts in all planning, purchasing, operating, and budget decisions; purchasing greener products; reducing energy, water, and fuel use; promoting reuse, recycling, and diversion of waste from landfills whenever possible; providing a safe and healthy work environment for its employees; complying with environmental laws and applicable executive orders; and implementing a Department-wide environmental management system applicable to all operating units, staff, and contractors.

The new policy is the final milestone for the new headquarters-level, Department-wide environmental management system (EMS), which has been under development for several months.  The EMS provides a set of roles, responsibilities, processes, and procedures for managing progress towards the Department’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan goals and reducing the Department’s environmental impacts.  Read more about the Department’s environmental management system or to download a copy of the new environmental policy (PDF).

U.S. Department of Commerce’s Energy and Environment Quarterly Update

DoC Energy and Environment Quarterly Newsletter imageThis summer, the U.S. Commerce Department published its first-ever Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP), a 48-page roadmap for reducing the department’s environmental impact over the next 10 years.  The SSPP sets department-wide targets for reducing energy and water intensity – or usage per unit area – and vehicle fuel use and waste, and increasing the use of renewable power, electronic stewardship and sustainable acquisition. The plan also sets the department’s first-ever greenhouse gas reduction targets, which commit Commerce to reducing emissions from vehicle use and purchased energy by 21 percent and indirect emissions by six percent by 2020.

The department’s strategy includes aiming for Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification for its headquarters building, the Herbert C. Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C.  Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md., is also on the forefront of the department’s sustainability efforts, with plans to build a net-zero energy test facility and accompanying 600 kilowatt solar array.