The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates $3.6 trillion of infrastructure investment in the United States is needed by 2020. Aging infrastructure and the disastrous effects of climate change expedite the need for states and municipalities to address structural problems. Bond issuance is a typical source of financing for these projects. Since their advent in 2008, a new bond alternative called “green bonds” has been gaining momentum. The World Bank – a multilateral development bank helping governments reduce poverty in developing countries – and other multilaterals were the initial issuers, but now U.S. municipalities have also started issuing green bonds. 

It's no secret that the electric power industry is undergoing a transformation with utilities scaling up clean energy sources, embracing a new era of consumer participation and choice, and tackling issues of security, efficiency and resiliency in a changing world.

As the industry turns to holistic solutions such as AC/DC transmission and distribution technologies, both centralized and decentralized control, advanced inverters, energy storage and microgrids, the challenges of integrating these new technologies into the grid are becoming more complex. To tackle these challenges, utilities, manufacturers and technology solutions providers are increasingly turning to the Energy Department’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. 

Around the time Fritigern and the Goths were sacking Rome in 375 AD, Roman writer and military strategist Flavius Vegetius Renatus wrote the words that would make his work eternal: “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” In English, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” That’s where the solar industry finds itself today with the impending expiration of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on Dec. 31, 2016.

Right now, there are 8,000 solar companies employing more than 170,000 people in all corners of the United States. Recently, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the industry’s national trade organization, posited that an expiration of the ITC would cost 100,000 of those jobs. In other words, it could be catastrophic for an industry that has provided a ray of hope in a jobs market that has desperately needed it over the past five years.

Successful energy efficiency programs rely heavily on the end-user, the utility customer. To increase adoption of energy efficiency programs, utilities are looking for holistic ways to enhance customer experience. 

A focus on customer-centricity is also a smart investment for the future. As utilities face new challenges and opportunities in the years ahead, many will look to proactively build relationships with consumers and serve the role of a “trusted energy advisor.” Customer relationships will become an asset of increasing importance and value in helping utilities evolve their business models.

For example, we’ve found that utilities that incorporate customer-centric strategies are more likely to increase success rates, brand attribution and cross-promotion of energy efficiency programs. Taking a customer-centric approach requires alignment around best practices.

Big data is king, but how effective is it if no one listens to what it has to say? A company can have all the data in the world telling it exactly how its business operates – where its strengths and weaknesses are, practices that are most profitable, etc. – and it can have accurate data. But if that data is not applied to how the company functions, it doesn’t do the organization any good. Data is only valuable once it is understood and made actionable.

Organizations in asset-intensive industries, such as utilities and oil and gas, are being challenged to maximize production, minimize costs, meet regulatory requirements and manage risk. The best way to do this is to use information already available to them through their own internal systems and processes. To balance requirements, these companies need solutions that will help them make the best use of the information at hand. But how can organizations best harness and apply that data? They can start by looking beyond sales to the heart of the organization where the work that sets the tone for the entire organization is done. There are three key components to enacting a successful big data analytics strategy. 

The U.S. waste and recycling industry works continually to find new ways to extract value from America’s waste, including viewing waste as an energy resource. While valuable energy is regularly captured from landfill gas emissions, or through conversion of waste via incineration or biological processes, our country’s recycling infrastructure also factors into the energy discussion – not in terms of energy produced, but in terms of energy saved by minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

There is a lot of buzz around cloud computing applications and what they mean to the world in terms of collaboration – the sharing and distribution of information. These cloud-based analytical applications are expanding the capabilities of the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, allowing access to project data anytime, anywhere.

In the design phase, the cloud offers not just a streamlined way to collaborate, but also a way to analyze in real-time, with the ultimate goal of achieving better building performance. This article will explore analytical cloud computing and its applications towards sustainable design studies such as energy analysis. 

At the global B20 business summit, delegates are encouraged to think big. The aim of the forum is to generate a set of recommendations for leaders at the G20, which lay out a coherent vision of the path ahead for the global economy. So it is obviously appropriate for these recommendations to be ambitious and long-sighted. 

Yet perhaps counterintuitively, the most exciting moments at the B20 come not through the articulation of bold ideas, but rather when a breakthrough is made on making these ideas pragmatically achievable – when the aims of business start to really gel with the goals of government and communities.

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