Energy Action Day - Save the Date flyer

October 1 @ 10:00 am 2:00 pm CDT

 

Energy Action Day - Save the Date flyerJoin MEC for a fun-filled day where you can learn how to save money at home and on the road!

Join MEC at our Project Living Proof (PLP) demo home on Saturday, October 1, 10am – 2pm where we will be celebrating Energy Efficiency Month and National Drive Electric Week. See below for the list of activities that will be taking place at the event. We hope to see you there!

     – Electric vehicle showcase in the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center parking lot (behind PLP)

     – Tours of PLP, a historic home that has been retrofitted with multiple energy efficient systems to prove that            energy efficient updates to older homes are possible and affordable

     – Koosharina, a local Egyptian food truck, will be present with meat and vegetarian fare

     – Lastly, but certainly not least, Ajia Morris with The Greenline Initiative will speak at 11am

 

WHAT: Energy Action Day with MEC: Healthy Homes and Sustainable Rides
WHEN: Saturday, October 1, 10am-2pm with speakers beginning at 11am
WHERE: Project Living Proof, 917 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64110

 

 

 

Meet Our Guest Speaker

Ajia Morris HeadshotAjia Morris, Founder & CEO of The Greenline Initiative (she/her)

– Architect of urban economies
– Aggregator of social investment funds
– Focused on uplifting historically excluded communities
– Game-changer
– 20 to Know in Commercial Real Estate

    •  

 

 

Metropolitan Energy Center

816-531-7283

View Organizer Website

Project Living Proof

917 Emanuel Cleaver Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64109
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August 16 @ 10:00 am August 18 @ 2:30 pm

The Green Transportation Summit and Expo (GTSE) is the West Coast’s premier fleet modernization and sustainable transportation event. GTSE offers attendees an inside look at the latest in fleet technologies and innovation. It provides informative sessions featuring a who’s who of national and regional transportation leaders.

During the three-day event, MEC and our project partners will present on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at the session, Zero-Emission Freight Handling: Making the Case with Electric Yard Trucks.

When: August 16-18, 2022
Where: Greater Tacoma Convention Center – 1500 Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

Register Today!


Meet Your Presenters

Dr. XB Hu, Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. XB Hu is an Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He directs the SmartMobility lab at PSU. Prior to joining PSU, he was an Assistant Professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T at Rolla MO) between 2017 and 2021. Before that, he was a founding team member, and Director of R&D at Metropia Inc. – a university spinoff that develops systems and smartphone apps to reduce traffic congestion. His research focuses in the area of Smart Mobility System, Dynamic System Modeling, Active Demand Management, Autonomous Vehicles, and Electric Vehicles.

 

Jason Dake, Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Orange EV

Jason is responsible for all legal and governmental interactions for Orange EV. Jason has more than 22 years of in-house counsel experience including Senior Legal Counsel (Americas) for Cargotec Holding, Inc., Counsel and Secretary for Cargotec Holding Inc. (including all of its US subsidiaries), Deputy General Counsel for DeLaval Inc., and General Counsel for Avanex Inc.

 

 

 

James Telson, Director of Innovation and Sustainability, Compass Supply Chain Solutions LLC

James Telson is the Director of Innovation and Sustainability for Compass Supply Chain Solutions LLC. With a background in engineering and project management, James works closely with Lazer Spot Inc. and other industry partners to apply for incentives, manage projects, and deploy electric yard terminal tractors throughout the United States.

 

 

 

Emily Wolfe, Sr. Program Coordinator and Policy Analyst, Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC)

Emily Wolfe leads MEC’s policy and advocacy efforts and is the Project Coordinator for the terminal truck electrification project. Prior to joining MEC in 2019, Emily worked at a health information technology corporation for over six years spending three on their benefits and wellness team. She managed multiple programs and events for employees all over the world. However, she decided to change her career path and received a master’s degree in Social Work in 2019.

 

 

Greater Tacoma Convention Center

1500 Commerce Street
Tacoma, Washington 98402 United States
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View Venue Website
Rural Sustainability Flyer

August 11 @ 5:30 pm 10:00 pm CDT

Rural Sustainability FlyerWhen: August 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Where: 500 Main Street, Osawatomie, KS.

Why: The City of Osawatomie is excited to announce a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicated to Osawatomie’s first set of charging stations made possible through grant funding by Metropolitan Energy Center. The ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. on August 11th at 500 Main Street.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the beginning of multiple charging station installations throughout the town. For Osawatomie, sustainability initiatives made possible by this grant are just the beginning for their town. City Manager Mike Scanlon says, “It’s nice to be at the front-end of rural economic development regarding EV chargers and vehicles. With the recent announcement of the Panasonic Battery Plant in De Soto, I believe as a community; we are perfectly placed to leverage the benefits of these new technologies. I believe we can become a national leader in rural sustainability – the field is ours to grab.”

 

The event will feature:

Nick Hampton, Mayor of Osawatomie

Jeff Bender, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks

Mike Scanlon, City Manager, City of Osawatomie

Miriam Bouallegue, Program Manager, Metropolitan Energy Center

At Metropolitan Energy Center, we are excited to partner with the City of Osawatomie to increase the air quality to create healthier and happier communities by supporting electric vehicles. Osawatomie is one of eight cities and businesses partnering with MEC under a $5.2 million grant through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Vehicle Technologies Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment program for electric vehicles and charging stations. 

August 11 @ 9:00 am 4:00 pm CDT

 

MEC is partnering with Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) to bring a FREE training course for regional contractors and building industry experts!

Using the latest energy code (2021 International Energy Conservation Code) as guidance along with the principles of building science, this training will focus on code compliance as well as appropriate opportunities to exceed energy code requirements. Beginning with a Top Ten List of design guidelines to a quick building science review, this session explains the 2021 IECC code requirements for envelopes along with a mechanical section that puts an emphasis on proper ductwork. Finally, the training will review the code via the concept of a one-page checklist to help ensure proper compliance with its requirements.

When: Thursday, August 11, 9am-4pm
Where: Plexpod Westport Commons – 300 East 39th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111 – Room 1L

Register Today!

– Top Ten List of High Performance Design

– Building Science

– Code Envelope Overview

– Missouri Energy Code Study

– Mechanical and Ductwork

– Inspection Checklist

Learning Objectives:

– Identify where to focus efforts for a high-performance building design.

– Understand the basics of building science as they pertain to energy efficiency.

– Know key code requirements in the residential chapter of the 2009 – 2021 International Energy Conservation Code.

– Identify best practices in construction and solutions to address common code compliance challenges.

– Employ a one-page inspection checklist to ensure compliance with major code issues.

Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

Westport Plexpod

300 E 39th St
Kansas City, Missouri 64111 United States
+ Google Map
(844) 753-9763
View Venue Website

August 10 @ 12:30 pm 1:30 pm CDT

Are you a building owner or property manager of a building larger than 50,000 sq. ft. who wants to understand how to benchmark your building’s energy and water use?

Join Metropolitan Energy Center for our upcoming webinar on August 10 (at 12:30pm CT) to receive free training and support to submit your building’s 2021 energy and water data in order to comply with the City of Kansas City, MO’s annual benchmarking requirements. During the webinar, MEC’s Building Performance staff will give a tutorial on the basics of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, Evergy’s “BEAT” program, instructions on how to submit your report, and resources to navigate this process. The event is for anyone who is familiar with their respective building’s utility bill and facility upkeep. Roles may include property managers, leasing management companies, facility managers, building owners, etc

August 10 Webinar - Register Today

 

Meet Your Presenters

Mary English, Program Manager, Building Performance

Prior to joining MEC in 2021, Mary worked in the sustainable built environment industry conducting energy assessments, testing, consultation, and overall experience in the field of building performance in both the residential and commercial sectors.

Mary founded Small Step Energy Solutions LLC which became a leading home energy assessment provider, as well as a building consultant for sustainable new buildings and homes. During this time, Small Step worked with municipalities – including the Kansas City, MO codes department – to review and update building energy codes. She also worked closely with area developers to create sustainable developments and multi-family housing based on equity goals. Mary then moved into commercial-business sustainability, helping start-up businesses in passive house panel construction; energy benchmarking; and efficiency upgrades in commercial HVAC systems. She currently serves on the Programs Committee for the USGBC Central Plains Community; and the Equity Committee for Climate Action Kansas City.

 

Brittanie Giroux, Building Performance Associate

Brittanie joined MEC as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in October of 2020. She came to MEC after completing a previous AmeriCorps service year in the City of Evanston, IL’s Office of Sustainability where she led climate education initiatives and was involved in energy and waste franchise agreement processes.

In October of 2021, Brittanie came on board full time as MEC’s Building Performance Associate. In this role, she manages the Healthy Housing Taskforce, co-manages the Energy and Water Benchmarking program, creates social content and newsletters, and conducts community outreach and events. Brittanie received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Vanderbilt University. 

Metropolitan Energy Center

816-531-7283

View Organizer Website

GoToWebinar

Blog_Graphic-Flag_Hanging_From_Porch
By Mary English 

On January 5th of this year, Kansas City’s largest utility, Evergy, announced plans to update the Hawthorn coal-burning power plant with a solar field1. This will be a 10-MW solar array which on average can power roughly 2,000 single family homes a day. This move is seen as a hopeful sign for activists pressing for Hawthorn’s closure. 

This a textbook example of the term that has been gaining traction in recent years: environmental justice. The plant’s potential closing, if it happens down the road, falls right in line with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) definition which in brief is: “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” 

The Hawthorn plant is located next to neighborhoods with lower incomes who have borne the brunt of power generation and other industries’ negative impacts on the metro’s air quality. There is much more work like this in our region and around the country that needs to be done. (For a fantastic, if irreverent, report on some other examples of environmental justice wins and losses see the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episode broadcast in May on this subject 2.) 

However, as I like to say, these are “no-brainer” examples of immediate changes needed for a more fair and just society for our entire region. There are many other ways our fellow residents suffer from environmental injustices, however, that are hidden from view from those not directly involved in this subject through work or activism.  

One such example presented itself in a recent policy argument in one of the cities that make up our metropolitan area. And as our metropolitan’s city-center – Kansas City, MO – is in the middle of a similar policy discussion currently, I want to talk in more detail of how this is relevant to the discussion over environmental justice. 

I’m talking about the policy decisions over upgrading building energy codes. Kansas City, KS, just passed a “new” energy code. New being in quotation marks because—due to the residential portion of the codes passage being heavily amended—it’s safer to classify it as “Meet the New Code, Same as the Old Code.” 

Recently I discussed the many ways better energy codes positively impact our work and home lives 3. Since writing that piece, Kansas City, KS, decided to punt any marked improvement to their residential energy code, taken from the 2018 iteration of the International Energy Conservation Code 4 (IECC) (fortunately, the amendments in the commercial code were removed).  

Their reasoning was based on the fear-based excuse that it will price lower income earners out of buying a home. (Since both Missouri and Kansas are on the “home rule” law, every city council in our metro area is in charge of picking their own building codes. Currently, better mostly unamended 2018 IECC codes have not produced this problem in both Columbia, and St. Louis, MO. New-home building permit-pulls in both of these cities have risen since the codes’ passages, in fact 5.) This argument, however, is prevalent; and can be a winner with policymakers because it packs an emotional punch related directly to the American Dream. 

I want to expand on this idea. The American Dream as defined by this reasoning is all about owning your own home, apparently, even if said home is built with out-of-date technology and therefore not as durable, comfortable, and healthy as it could be for the residents. The code that Kansas City, KS, just passed, like most of the rest of our metro area’s cities, is based on a home-building process that is decades old. Following this argument that everyone should be able to buy a house, why don’t we just throw up some wood slats and tar paper like they did in the olden days and call it good?  

We don’t, of course, because it’s a ridiculous notion. Updating the energy code incorporates what we know now about how building efficiency is connected to human health and mental well-being. It’s not enough just to have four walls, a ceiling and roof and call it good. We must make sure that our structures are not also making us sick and poor. As humans have made great technological advancements over the last 100 years, we’ve incorporated them into minimum building standards as part of the social contract with the citizenry.   

And that—the social contract—is really what Environmental Justice means to me: keeping this important contract up to date and fair for all. When people are driving over our bridges, riding roller coasters, eating packaged food, just to list a few, they are doing so with the understanding that the laws protect them from injury or death. (And yes, bad energy codes in the most extreme examples can lead to both of these things 6) 

Environmental justice means that the social contract should apply to everyone—not just those that can afford a custom-built home that fixes all the flaws contained in the current energy code in our region. Roughly half of our residents are renters. Don’t they deserve a home that isn’t prone to mold growth and discomfort due to poorly installed insulation and insufficient ventilation?  

And if you want to argue that home buyers matter more for some reason, then why should they be subject to buying a “ready to wear/ off the shelf” new home that has been built with out of date and flawed technology? People don’t generally think about the health and safety aspects of homebuying because they assume policymakers and administrators have their backs covered in relation to the boring stuff. 

And yes, insulation and air sealing are boring. As an industry professional for 15 years, trust me, I get it. I have audited hundreds of homes in this metro area—many built under the same old technology that is still alive and well in most of our townships—to have just a small portion of homeowners follow through and pay to upgrade their houses. They’d rather have new kitchen cabinets or light fixtures. A home is an emotional extension of ourselves and most of us have only so much money to spend on upgrades. Insulation is going to be picked last if the house is seemingly livable enough with a few space heaters and added blankets in the TV room. 

For families with children that suffer from childhood asthma caused by energy inefficiencies, however, and who don’t have the means to choose from a list of home upgrades, where is their signed social contract to the American Dream? 

It could be right here in Kansas City if we had the will to implement solutions for our buildings’ occupants. As I type this, the news that a new climate mitigation spending package may finally be put before Congress for passage has broken. It includes the largest climate action spending in American history. This is great news for our cities that are trying to right the wrongs of discrimination, inequity in our infrastructure spending, and neglect of previously redlined neighborhoods in general.  

With this funding in mind, here is my dreamed-up short list of solutions: 

  • KC area municipalities should all pass at a minimum the unamended 2018 IECC or, better yet, 2021 commercial and residential codes. 
  • Implement a minimum energy performance standard for our commercial buildings 7 —including multi-family residential—with a deadline to reach a threshold of energy performance. 
  • Create a funding process to help homeowners with lower incomes spend money on the boring stuff like insulation, air sealing and better HVAC systems. Additionally, this process should be kept simple and accessible (too many of these types of programs in the past haven’t been.) 
  • Modify any tax laws to eliminate gentrification or landlord abuse through raised rents, as money gets poured into revitalizing previously neglected communities. 
  • Indirectly related: increase the minimum wage to something to live on with dignity and respect in a 40-hour work week. 
  • And, finally, invest in jobs training to create a work force that can be there to do all the work contained in the above solutions.  

 

When 2020 was upon us in full force and we all went indoors to sequester ourselves to work and live 8 we were experiencing a what is called a collective trauma. Many of us lost loved ones. And there was a window into our fellow humans’ suffering and those whose situations were worse – or better off – than our own.  

But there was a sense that we were entering a new era for the better perhaps. Our offices closed, pollution dropped and you could actually smell the fresh change in the air. The conversation around buildings turned to health, building management, and ventilation.  

That time has come and gone unfortunately as we’ve been pushed back into business as usual. The deep class divide remains unchanged and buildings are just one way that divide manifests. Energy code will not impact the ability to own a home. It impacts the ability to live and work in a healthy environment though. 

Kansas City could be a leader among cities on how to update the social contract with its citizens by offering better buildings, which goes along with cleaner power generation, infrastructure, and thus cleaner air.  

To me, that means Environmental Justice really can just be called Justice. Living with decent, healthy and equitable shelter should be considered a civil right, in my humble opinion. 

But what does “Environmental Justice” mean to you?  

 

Update: note that an earlier version of this blog incorrectly stated that Hawthorne plant was being shutdown by Evergy. This was inaccurate. It is a plant that environmental justice advocates have been requesting get on the list of plants to be closed. The solar array that Evergy is building is next to Hawthorne, but it does not preclude Hawthorn from being close permanently. 

Footnotes

1 https://www.powermag.com/evergy-to-build-solar-array-at-kansas-city-coal-power-plant-site/ 

2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v0XiUQlRLw 

3 https://metroenergy.org/2022/06/energy-codes-for-our-future/ 

4 https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/iecc2018 

5 Public data received from codes departments in these cities. 

6 https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/families-sue-buildings-owners-bronx-fire-killed-17-people-rcna15384 

7 https://www.imt.org/st-louis-passes-first-building-performance-standard-in-the-midwest/ 

8 Wellnot all, some of us were luckier than others. Our healthcare providers and grocery store labor to name twowho kept up their end of the contract by working through brutal shifts and dangers to their health pre-vaccinedidn’t get to shelter in place. But that is another, albeit related, blog 

July 26 @ 8:00 am 12:00 pm CDT

Are you a local building official or work on building and energy codes? Want to understand the latest standards and trends? Join MEC for a FREE training course!

Cities in our region are in process of adopting more recent energy codes, so MEC is hosting a FREE building science & energy codes training. The course is valued at $200+ and attendees are eligible for up to 4 Continuing Education Hours.

This course provides an overview of the history of the commercial energy codes in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the development of multiple compliance paths. It provides a common understanding of the thermal envelope (including the impact of windows, doors, and skylights), what is included in insulation installation grading, and advanced framing techniques. The instructor will also cover heating, cooling, and mechanical ventilation systems along with a discussion of the importance of duct tightness. Lighting, appliance, and clean energy contributions will also be discussed.

When: Tuesday, July 26, 8am-12pm
Where: Plexpod Westport Commons – 300 East 39th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111 – Room 1L

Register Today!

Meet Your Instructor

Sharla Riead, Hathmore Technologies LLC, EnergySmart Institute

Sharla’s energy and environmental experience began with her first energy audit in 1979 and spans years of progression from working as an energy auditor through construction and installation of solar panels to directorships and management of energy conservation and consulting companies and culminates in her leadership of Hathmore Technologies, LLC. For over five decades she has performed heat load calculations, residential energy diagnostics, solar and alternate energy design, energy conservation instruction, contracting, and consulting. As a Certified Building Analyst and Envelope Specialist, Sharla assisted hundreds of homeowners with energy retrofit improvement analysis and design. As a Certified Home Energy Rater, Sharla and her team provide testing, certification, and program compliance services for national energy and environmental programs such as ENERGYSTAR, NAHB Green Build, US Green Building Council’s LEED® for Homes Program and Federal Energy Tax Credits. Sharla and her company have supported several hundred builders with their Green Building goals.

Metropolitan Energy Center

816-531-7283

View Organizer Website

Westport Plexpod

300 E 39th St
Kansas City, Missouri 64111 United States
+ Google Map
(844) 753-9763
View Venue Website

July 19 @ 9:00 am 9:45 am CDT

Mary English, MEC’s Building Performance Program Manager, will give an overview of MEC to the Building Owners and Managers Association of Metropolitan Kansas City (BOMA Kansas City) on July 19 at 9am via zoom. She will share how MEC serves the CRE industry including:

– Our role as facilitator/implementer for KCMO’s private building benchmarking ordinance and our free services for building managers.

– Programs and services that help buildings become more energy efficient and make greenhouse gas reduction a priority.

– Knowledge sharing of resources outside of MEC that can also help!

When: Tuesday, July 19, 9am-9:45am
Where: Zoom

Register Today!

BOMA Metropolitan Kansas City

View Organizer Website

Zoom

July 17 @ 10:00 am 3:00 pm CDT

The Great Car Show is a benefit car show in support of the Kansas City Automotive Museum. Selling out every year, this event has seen hundreds of vehicles from all over the Midwest and welcomed thousands of visitors. Metropolitan Energy Center will be hosting our very own panel on electric vehicles and will be facilitating Ride and Drives that will allow attendees to either test drive electric vehicles, or ride along on these test drives!

The unique venue for a car show contributes to a day full of fun for the whole family! Food trucks, vendors, and activities are available for visitors to enjoy. In addition to the car show, individuals have the opportunity to visit the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

This is a paid event with adult tickets costing $5, all children above the age of 5 will be $2, and all children that are 5 years old or younger will be admitted for free. We hope to see you there!

Register Today!

Kansas City Automotive Musuem

913-322-4227

View Organizer Website

National WWI Museum and Memorial

2 Memorial Dr
Kansas City, MO 64108 United States
+ Google Map
(816) 888-8100
View Venue Website

July 13 @ 11:30 am 12:30 pm CDT

Are you a building owner or property manager of a building larger than 50,000 sq. ft. who wants to understand how to benchmark your building’s energy and water use?

Join Metropolitan Energy Center for our upcoming webinars on May 25, June 15, or July 13 (all begin at 11:30am CT) to receive free training and support to submit your building’s 2021 energy and water data in order to comply with the City of Kansas City, MO’s annual benchmarking requirements. During the webinar, MEC’s Building Performance staff will give a tutorial on the basics of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, instructions on how to submit your report, and resources to navigate this process. The event is for anyone who is familiar with their respective building’s utility bill and facility upkeep. Roles may include property managers, leasing management companies, facility managers, building owners, etc.

 

May 25 Webinar - Register Today
June 15 Webinar - Register Today
July 13 Webinar - Register Today

 

 

 

 

Meet Your Presenters

Mary English, Program Manager, Building Performance

Prior to joining MEC in 2021, Mary worked in the sustainable built environment industry conducting energy assessments, testing, consultation, and overall experience in the field of building performance in both the residential and commercial sectors.

Mary founded Small Step Energy Solutions LLC which became a leading home energy assessment provider, as well as a building consultant for sustainable new buildings and homes. During this time, Small Step worked with municipalities – including the Kansas City, MO codes department – to review and update building energy codes. She also worked closely with area developers to create sustainable developments and multi-family housing based on equity goals. Mary then moved into commercial-business sustainability, helping start-up businesses in passive house panel construction; energy benchmarking; and efficiency upgrades in commercial HVAC systems. She currently serves on the Programs Committee for the USGBC Central Plains Community; and the Equity Committee for Climate Action Kansas City.

 

Brittanie Giroux, Building Performance Associate

Brittanie joined MEC as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in October of 2020. She came to MEC after completing a previous AmeriCorps service year in the City of Evanston, IL’s Office of Sustainability where she led climate education initiatives and was involved in energy and waste franchise agreement processes.

In October of 2021, Brittanie came on board full time as MEC’s Building Performance Associate. In this role, she manages the Healthy Housing Taskforce, co-manages the Energy and Water Benchmarking program, creates social content and newsletters, and conducts community outreach and events. Brittanie received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Vanderbilt University. 

Metropolitan Energy Center

816-531-7283

View Organizer Website

GoToWebinar