Jason Hartke

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe arrived yesterday morning at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Richmond, VA, to make a major announcement on energy efficiency. (Yes, you read that correctly; we were at the DMV).  

This particular DMV, through an innovative collaboration with Trane, had recently undergone an extensive energy retrofit that was now saving 36 percent in energy use and saving a whopping $284,000 a year.

That was something that the Governor was eager to see and recognize.

“We need to be a leader on this here in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said McAuliffe, determined to take action to ensure similar results in all state buildings.

After the speech, that’s exactly what he did. He sat down and signed his 31st executive order, directing state buildings to achieve a 15 percent reduction in energy use by 2017. The executive action, which includes the appointment of what may be the country’s first Chief Energy Efficiency Officer, came just days after unveiling his ambitious energy plan that identifies energy efficiency as a major priority.

For McAuliffe, the move was about fulfilling a campaign promise to drive innovation and strengthen the state economy. As he spoke to the large crowd at the site, McAuliffe extolled the DMV project, which was completed through the Virginia Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) program. The creative program lets state agencies partner with private sector vendors to make various energy improvements at state-owned buildings at no cost to taxpayers. The projects are paid with the savings created from making the energy improvements.

McAuliffe noted that the best energy is the energy we never have to use. He told the audience that he would continue to support clean energy, like renewables and energy efficiency. “That’s how we get the Virginia economy moving again," he said.

Also featured at the event, Trane President David Regnery talked about how energy-efficient, green buildings not only save energy and money, but also help boost comfort and productivity. “It’s good to be green,” said Regnery. “I wish the leadership around the country would follow this activity.”

That afternoon, the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, led by Ken Rosenfeld, hosted at meeting about how best to support energy efficiency in the Governor’s newly released energy plan. More than 50 stakeholders participated, including representatives from the utilities, business, non-profits, local government and academia.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe with USGBC Vice President Jason Hartke