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MEEP Student draws parallels between Triangle Factory and Karachi’s Ali Enterprises factory fires
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As the closing hours of the day approached on March 25, 1911, a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Factory in New York City that resulted in 146 people losing their lives in 18 minutes. The company was a typical textile manufacturing unit based in Manhattan, characterized by long working hours, low wages, and unhealthy, unhygienic working conditions.

Over a century later on September 11, 2012, as the closing hours of the day approached, a fire broke out at Ali Enterprises Factory in Karachi, killing almost 300 people. The company was a typical textile manufacturing unit characterized by long working hours, low wages, and unhygienic working conditions. Workers were unable to leave the office premises because the doors were locked – a practice to prevent them from leaving their shifts early. The fumes became increasingly toxic in the presence of textile chemicals present in the factory. There was no emergency exit and the only way for the workers to escape was to smash iron bars on the windows to jump from the four story building. The company thrived on immigrant worker population, both from within and outside borders, willing to work in compromising conditions and low wages.

There were no significant protests against the lost lives of all the fathers, mothers, children, husbands and wives in the brutal factory fire. The incident faded away like a random ‘breaking news’ event, receiving a full day’s coverage and so, with each passing day, the dream of a better workplace environment remains as far-fetched as do the rights of the poor.

CEEP researchers investigate SEU strategy for Indian city
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According to a recent census report, the population in Thane, India, has more than doubled in 20 years — from just over 800,000 in 1991 to more than 1.8 million in 2011. When India created its National Solar City Program to increase renewable energy use in its urban centers, Thane was named one of the first municipalities to lead the effort. During its January 2013 visit, the CEEP study team found the Thane community to be supportive of public-public partnerships for effective implementation of the city’s ‘Solar City Project’ through a sustainable energy utility based on the CEEP-initiated SEU model for providing bottom-up green energy investments.

 

White House recognizes the leadership of SEUs in Delaware and the District of Columbia
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White House recognizes leadership of SEUs on December 2, 2011, in commitments announced by President Obama and former President Clinton on December 2, 2011, along with representatives from more than 60 organizations as part of the Better Buildings Challenge. The Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February by President Obama, and is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion. The announcement included a recognition of the $70.2 million bond offering executed by the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility. The Delaware SEU is based on 10 years of CEEP research and was co-chaired by CEEP’s Director at the time of the bond sale. Over 1,000 jobs were created, and State Agencies realized a premium of $26 million as a result of savings created by this investment. A Better Buildings Challenge Financial Ally, Citi, will pursue at least $500 million in financing based on the SEU model.

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Western U.S. cities consider the SEU
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In the November 2012 issue of Western City a publication of the California League of Capital Cities featured CEEP’s Sustainable Energy Utility model. Cities and counties are at the forefront in adopting strategies to invest in energy efficiency in ways that blend economic and environmental sustainability. Their efforts have produced net zero energy and green building codes, solar programs for agency and community buildings, property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing and many other innovative initiatives. The magazine issue reports that cities and non-profit organizations can realize substantial utility cost savings, using the SEU performance guarantee which ensures that project investments result in savings to cover the cost of all retrofit work. All projects are financed through tax-exempt bonds.

FREE and CSCDA team to develop SEUs in California
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CSCDA and the Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment are teaming together to provide public agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout California with access to tax exempt financing for critical sustainable energy investments. Under the Sustainable Energy Bond Program, participating entities and organizations will contract with an Energy Service Company (ESCO) to complete energy and water conservation measures. Improvements could include street lighting, building lighting, pumps, HVAC, system controls, boilers, chillers, ducting, windows, partial roofing, toilets and others. The program participants will receive substantial utility cost savings, including a contractual guarantee sufficient to cover the full cost of all retrofit work. All projects are financed through tax exempt bonds. The partnership creates innovative, low-cost, pooled finance programs to respond to the energy needs of city and county participants. FREE is a non-profit corporation that has supported a number of CEEP researchers for the past several years.

SEU’s $70 million green energy savings bond receiving national attention
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A Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) operates differently from traditional utility companies in that its mandate is to create a market for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. It does so by issuing bonds to fund these as infrastructure investments.  The first SEU was set up in Delaware in 2008, and was adopted by Washington, D.C. in 2010. The model was also endorsed by the Asian Development Bank in a communiqué in June 2011, which recommended that its member countries consider the financing model. “Asia’s growing so fast and is putting new structures in so fast, if you put in poor performing new structures, you are going to have 30 or 50 years of inefficiency,” said John Byrne, a professor of climate policy at the University of Delaware and co-chairman of the SEU. “So this is the right time to create an SEU. That is the reason why ADB promoted this model at the forum.” The $70 million green energy savings bond in Delaware received a AA+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. Citi served as underwriter for the bond transaction.

SEU highlighted for innovative public sector program
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While federal policy to curb carbon emissions remained in limbo, several state and local governments are experimenting with new ways to build a low-carbon future. Delaware rolled out a “sustainable energy utility,” or SEU, a nonprofit organization envisioned to be a ”one-stop shop” for anyone looking to save energy and utilize renewable energy onsite. Funded by the proceeds of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (a cap-and-trade program formed by states from Maine to Maryland),  it pays for energy audit of school district buildings, and other public facilities, identifying efficiency upgrades and renewable energy options that are cost-effective. Then the SEU would hire engineering companies to complete the work.

According to the SEU contract, companies retrofit buildings with energy-saving features, like better windows, heating systems and insulation, and then guarantee a certain amount of utility savings over time. The guaranteed savings cover the cost of the investment and when it is paid off, the equipment becomes the property of the school or other agency, allowing them to benefit from continued savings.

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