2024 Spring Highlights

April 9, 2024

Peak bloom came early to DC this year. Consider yourself lucky if you enjoyed the beautiful cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. The area is going to be under construction for the next two years — the National Park Service is raising the sea walls around the Tidal Basin to counter the settling (more than 5 feet between the late 1800s through 1900s) and allow for future extensions to the height in case of storm surges or sea level rise.

Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin 2024

International Highlights

Speaking of sea level rise, uncertainty is certain with the changes in AMOC flows over the next few decades. Sea level rise is going to be one of the consequences. And as the linked article states, decarbonization is our way out of it.

On decarbonization, the UN held its maiden Buildings and Climate Global Forum in Paris in early March. Representatives of 70 countries signed the Declaration de Chaillot for international cooperation to enable progress towards a rapid, fair, and effective transition of the buildings sector. My friends from EDGE buildings and Building Resilience Index were in attendance as well. (If you’re in the market for a “green” Fannie Mae loan at a reasonable cost, ask me about EDGE certification.)

Image courtesy the UN

Just a few weeks before the global UNEP forum, Energy Shrink presented a training on behalf of UNEP-FI and Global ABC to bankers in Latin America on green buildings “Towards a zero-emissions, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector: Key trends, concepts, and solutions for commercial banks and financial institutions”. We also drafted a guidance paper that will be published soon.

Image of presentation on green buildings for finance institutions

Energy Shrink was hired to produce and deliver the training on behalf of UNEP-FI and GABC

This was around the same time as COP28, for which Forbes provided a snappy guide. A couple of highlights resonated, especially:

  • “Fossil fuels” explicitly called out. “Transition away” from fossil fuels in “energy systems” agreed upon
  • Goal of reaching “net zero by 2050” now made explicit

My favorite at the fair though was the appliance “petting zoo”!

National Highlights

Stateside, there were a few key developments. (So many, in fact, that this newsletter got long. If you’d like to see these highlights as they happen, do follow our Energy Shrink LinkedIn page.)

Many jurisdictions are engaged in a robust debate about natural gas, pitting carbon emissions against affordability concerns. Meanwhile, building standards continue to get tightened and lean towards electrification:

Image courtesy PNNL

Helping navigate Federal funding, DC held its first Healthy Homes Fair on April 6 getting folks excited about the upcoming IRA tax rebates. In addition to rebates, let’s not forget two key tax credits that impact buildings:

  • Section 179D allows building owners to claim a deduction per square foot for implementing energy-efficient buildings or systems. The tax deduction has increased from about $2 to over $5.50 per square foot meeting the criteria (including prevailing wages).
  • Section 45L provides $2,500 per home to builders through ENERGY STAR and $5000 through DOE’S ZERH.


Local Highlights


Tax credits were of strong interest to our stakeholders from the builder community that participated in discussions for a maiden Green Building policy for Fairfax City in Virginia that Energy Shrink worked to help craft.

Maryland is also making progress towards statewide BEPS standards. The Building Energy Transition Implementation Task Force of 2023which I was pleased to volunteer on, made recommendations for BEPS to the General Assembly and Governor. As can be expected with such massive changes, there is some push back and the legislation is yet to be signed into law.

Screen capture at the Maryland Committee session in the General Assembly


Montgomery County in Maryland, meanwhile, continues to benchmark, verify, and fund these activities through their Green Bank. Energy Shrink is proud to be a Technical Assistance Provider at the Green Bank and is working with several clients.

DC has new benchmarking requirements: DC is requiring third-party verification this year and starting next year, the area threshold for buildings that must benchmark will be lowered to 10,000 SF. We continue to provide benchmarking services in DC as well.

Outreach and Training

Energy Shrink was selected along with the outreach firm Brick & Story by the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to engage the lower income and disadvantaged communities (LIDAC) on DC’s Climate Action Plans (PCAP and CCAP) under a CPRG grant.

Energy Shrink has been selected by DCSEU to provide training in two areas:

  1. Building Codes and BEPS compliance
  2. GPRO course in Construction Management being offered with material licensed from the Urban Green Council of New York.

DCSEU also featured Energy Shrink in their workforce training blog! We had a fun photo session at their offices.

Don’t miss the Washington Mounument in the background!

Energy Modeling

The Energy Shrink team is working on two LEED energy models:

  1. For a new Porsche showroom in New Jersey with Sustainable Design Consulting, and
  2. For an existing library renovation in Richmond for the Department of the Blind and Visually Impaired (DVBI) with SRP, a mechanical engineering firm in Glen Allen, VA.

Speaking of Energy Modeling

We are also showcasing our energy modeling work in DC at AIA DC’s upcoming DesignDC 2024: Carbon + the City, where I’ll be presenting “Slashing Carbon with an Analytical Sword – Three Local Case Studies”.

Program Administration

Energy Shrink continues to support NYSERDA’s Buildings of Excellence Competition, which recognizes and rewards the design, construction, and operation of clean, resilient, and carbon neutral-ready multifamily buildings across New York State. $58 million of grant funds are distributed over four rounds to project developers and architects that demonstrate innovative, carbon neutral designs that will create replicable and scalable models for New York State’s clean energy transition.

Energy Shrink is helping NYSERDA manage the energy-efficient projects, review project proposals, administer the awarded funds, review partner deliverables to ensure that the projects are instituting carbon neutral design strategies, and advise on outreach strategies for promotional materials and replicability.

Team Member Spotlight

A well-deserved spotlight this season is on our Analyst, Kara Hausamann. Kara moved to DC mid-last year from NY after graduating from SUNY Binghampton with a Master’s in Sustainability with concentrations in Urban Planning and Consumer Waste Management. At Energy Shrink, LLC, Kara has been helping craft a Green Buildings Policy for City of Fairfax, Virginia, supporting the Buildings of Excellence Program for NYSERDA, and helping manage Energy Shrink’s benchmarking clients throughout the DC region. She might also be spotted playing tennis around DC! Previously in New York, Kara worked at an environmental non-profit helping create a climate action plan for a local town in the Hudson Valley. Our team is enjoying Kara’s sense of responsibility and sportsmanship.

New certifications

“If you were allowed one wish for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism.” said Nobel-prize winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow who sadly passed away recently. Thanks to that optimism, laced with persistence, Energy Shrink is now certified as a New York WMBE. After a two-year long process, we were excited to finally receive this Christmas gift in Dec. 2023!

Our team looks forward to working with many of you in the coming weeks and months.

One for the road

Q. Why should you build the greenest building on the block?

A. So that the rest of the buildings will go green with envy!

On that note, wish you a wonderful, green Spring season. Drop me a note to catch up!



p.s. Did you get a glimpse of the eclipse yesterday? It was quite fabulous here in the DC area, like a crescent moon. Here’s hoping the special event brings fresh tidings your way.

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