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I will frequently hear podcast or read news articles that express if we were to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and the corresponding emissions associated with burning them then we could improve human health and reduce medical costs! I am sure many of you, including myself, would love to see the cost of health insurance go down. So how does that correlate to our energy consumption and how do we monetize the benefits of improved health for the populace? Well in the United States a certain governmental agency has found the answers to these questions, as outlined in the next section.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) and the CO-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) tool can be used by state, local, and tribal entities to evaluate and communicate the air quality, health, and economic benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs. AVERT estimates county-level changes in power plant emissions, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and ammonia (NH3), resulting from the implementation of clean energy policies and programs. COBRA quantifies the air quality and health impacts of clean energy policies at the county, state, regional, or national levels and calculates the economic value of health-related benefits, such as reductions in cardiovascular and respiratory illness, fewer lost days of work, and decreased mortality rates.

I naturally wanted to test these programs out and apply them to the state of Texas. In 2021 Texas had an electrical grid capacity of about 90,000 Megawatts (MW) with 68% of that capacity consisting of fossil fuel sources (coal and natural gas). I decided to see what results I could achieve with very modest, but realistic changes to grid capacity and fuel sources. I decided to reduce the overall electricity consumption from the Texas grid by 1%, through energy efficiency measures, and to comprise total grid capacity from solar energy at 2% or 1,800 MW. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction from the AVERT simulation along with financial results from the COBRA application are shown in the figure below.StateS

Therefore, a very modest changing in how the Texas electrical grid operates can save over $50 million in healthcare cost annually. Imagine the savings that could be realized across the whole United States if our electrical grid produced zero GHG emissions!


I have talked about sustainability in past, but I wanted to revisit the topic since Sustainable Engineering will be making a presentation at webinar hosted by the NM Economic Development Department. I wanted to share how Sustainable Engineering views sustainable and implements plans to promote it. The three pillars of sustainability take into account Environmental, Social, and Economic factors. Sustainable Engineering provides energy efficiency assessments, renewable energy designs, and resiliency planning. By prioritizing these three factors we help businesses and organizations become more sustainable.

Energy Assessments:


We start out by gathering billing data from your utility company and standardize building energy consumption to compare to buildings in your same climate region and industry. This establishes an energy baseline from which energy efficiency targets can be set. Buildings that rank above 75% in their industry can receive an Energy Star Certificate.

ASHRAE Level 1, Level 2:

We conduct site walkthroughs of facilities to determine what energy efficiency opportunities might be available in accordance with The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditions Engineers energy assessment standards (ASHRAE). The final result is a report that provides a road map for energy efficiency upgrades along with a cost analysis of viable energy saving opportunities.

Energy Management:

We have partnered with the Department of Energy through their 50001 Ready Program to help businesses and organizations develop and implement an Energy Management Program for Continuous Energy Improvements. An energy management system goes beyond the initial energy assessment performed and requires a perpetual change in an organizations energy culture. Using the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology, businesses and organizations can find future energy efficiency opportunities.

After interacting with stakeholders and gathering data during the energy assessment process we are able to model building loads such as HVAC, lighting, building envelope, etc. to determine what are the most appropriate energy efficient systems that benefit the building as a whole. Diving down into how the customer is tied to the electrical grid, if they are even tied to the grid, and what utility rates they are paying gives us a better picture of how to design renewable energy systems and how cost effective they will ultimately be. For example, many commercial and industrial businesses pay demand charges, which generally cannot be offset by renewable energy systems alone. However, energy efficiency strategies and energy storage such as batteries and generators can reduce demand charges when tied to the grid. Our analyses depict an organizations carbon footprint through greenhouse gas inventories and opportunities for reductions. Finally, we show how the right combination of energy efficiency measures, renewable energy generation, and energy storage can increase a community’s energy resiliency, especially if they don’t currently have access to reliable electricity or energy.


I came across the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) when we were talking to a potential client in the northern mountains of New Mexico. Unfortunately, it has been an early and extreme fire season for the area and their facility was consumed by one of the many wild fires. I found the program to be exciting because it can be very tough for many rural small businesses and agriculture producers to invest in capital improvement energy projects that will save them money in the long-term. This program could allow for over 50% savings on installation cost of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects if an applicant is awarded the grant. For example, say a farmer wanted to install a solar PV system on his property for $100,000. The farmer can take the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at 26% of the capital cost and if awarded the REAP grant for 25% of the capital cost then 51% of project upfront cost could be avoided. The farmer would only have to pay $49,000 for the solar PV system. Other tax incentives exist too including equipment depreciation, which allow for even more realized savings from installing the solar PV system.

The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Primary eligibility for the program consists of the following:

- Businesses must be in located in rural areas with populations of 50,000 residents or less.

- Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.

For more information on the program please visit the link below.

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants | Rural Development (

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