Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Charlotte's clean-energy rankings

The Charlotte region leads the state in energy-efficient commercial buildings and ranks third in the number of renewable energy and energy efficiency firms, says a report released today.

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, whose members include people in the profession, produced its first Clean Energy Data Book. The report summarizes, by region, the renewable energy profile of a state that is a leader in the Southeast.

All told, the association says, more than 12,500 N.C. residents work in some phase of renewable energy or efficiency. Sun, wind, water or biomass (the term for organic waste) produce energy at more than 1,800 sites. More than 1,500 commercial and government buildings have been certified as energy efficient.

The 12-county Charlotte region is home to 355 clean-energy firms, the report says. That total ranks third-highest in the state after the Raleigh area (623 firms) and the Asheville region (with 397 companies). Most of the firms do energy-efficiency work, but the region also has a surprising presence in companies that make parts for the wind industry.

There's room to grow in energy efficiency, the report adds. The Charlotte region has 265,000 homes built before 1970, most without enough insulation. Central Piedmont Community College offers a degree in sustainable technologies, and other local colleges turn out electricians and heating-cooling technicians that could find work there.

The growing number of firms, anchored by Duke Energy, "provides a robust technical knowledge base and strong industry presence with clear opportunity for continued development," the report says.

The 415 buildings registered or certified under the EPA's Energy Star or U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards lead the state. Among those earning Energy Star status are 99 Food Lion stores and 58 schools.

Renewable energy systems in the Charlotte region have a total capacity of 595 megawatts, nearly all of it from hydroelectric plants. For perspective, that's a little less than the output of the single coal-fired unit Duke is building at its Cliffside power plant.


Anonymous said...

This is awesome news. If we didn't have the broken reactors revving next door, and if we weren't about to start drinking flamable tapwater, I'd be kinda proud of us.