Nevada Is Sixth In the U.S. For LEED Green Building
Nevada ranked sixth in the nation for 2015 in a U.S. Green Building Council national ranking of top states in the country for LEED green buildings, according to a press release from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Data used for the USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study also show LEED construction is expected to support 96,000 jobs in Nevada and impact state GDP by $8.55 billion from 2015-2018.

Arizona and New Mexico did not place in the Top 10.

“Building LEED-certified spaces will help our cities and communities grow in a smart, energy-efficient way and helps maximize the potential of the state’s thriving renewable energy industry,” says Sandoval in a press release. “[It’s] important that we integrate sustainable measures in our growth to ensure preservation of our precious natural resources.”

In Nevada, 30 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified in 2015, which equates to 6,534,960 square feet of real estate. LEED projects in Nevada include the Levi Strauss & Co.’s Sky Harbor Distribution Center, Clark County Wetlands Park Nature Center, and The Chefs’ Warehouse Las Vegas. “Nevada’s success in attracting LEED certified or equivalent buildings shows the commitment our state has taken to lead the way in integrating energy efficiency and conservation with growth and new development,” says Angela Dykema, director of the governor’s office of energy.

Congress Passes Tax Credits for Solar and Wind
The House and the Senate recently passed a spending package that includes multi-year extensions of solar and wind tax credits and one-year extensions for a range of other renewable energy technologies.
With the Southwest a climate magnet for solar projects, the package will likely continue investment in new power plants.
The package includes a 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar energy that will extend through 2019 until dropping permanently to 10% beginning in 2022. It also includes a 2.3-cent Production Tax Credit (PTC) through 2017 for wind energy. The package also features a one-year PTC extensions for geothermal, landfill gas, marine energy and incremental hydro as they too qualify for a 30% ITC. Moreover, the bill expanded grants for energy and water efficiency and has the power to help create nearly 100 cumulative gigawatts of solar installations by 2020.
However, this legislation also lifts a 40-year ban on exports of crude oil produced in the U.S. For this reason, Democrats pushed for multi-year extensions of renewable energy tax credits and demanded that Republicans strip out any riders that would weaken environmental laws. In a study, independent analysts found the deal would be “a net positive for the climate” despite the fact that emissions would “increase slightly” because of increased drilling activity. The study furthermore claims the bill’s incentive for increasing renewable energy development will offset these emissions.
U.S. Department of Energy and New Mexico Finalize $74 Million Settlement
Recently, the New Mexico Environment Department, the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors signed two settlement agreements in order to resolve the New Mexico Environment Department’s claims against DOE and its contractors in relation to the February 2014 incidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad and the associated activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory. These newly signed agreements provide funding and scheduling parameters for a set of Supplemental Environmental Projects in both the Carlsbad and Los Alamos communities and ensure that New Mexico’s roads, water infrastructure, and emergency response infrastructure will receive critical improvements.

According to a press release from the New Mexico Environment Department, these projects include making necessary repairs to New Mexican roads used for the transportation of transuranic waste, enhanced training and capabilities for local emergency responders (including local mine rescue teams), and the funding of construction and equipment for an offsite emergency operations center near WIPP to be operated by DOE are estimated at a total value of $74 million.

The finalized settlement agreements are based on the State of New Mexico’s and DOE’s General Principles of Agreement signed by the parties on April 30, 2015.

“The funds New Mexico will receive through this agreement will help ensure the future safety and success of these facilities, the people who work at them, and their local communities. We look forward to continuing to work with the federal government to ensure the safety and success of both LANL and WIPP,” says New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.

WaterNow Alliance Inaugural Summit in Tempe
Tempe, Arizona will hold the first WaterNow Alliance summit March 30 and 31 at the Arizona State University Memorial Union. Water leaders, innovators, and experts will meet for the two-day summit to discuss advancing water solutions in communities across the west.
WaterNow Alliance is a network of utility leaders working towards sustainable local water solutions. Their goal is to, as the event description states, “catalyze action in their communities” for best water use practices and solutions. The two day summit will focus on sustainable water solutions, such as accelerating the adoption of reuse, recycling, efficiency technologies, green infrastructure, watershed health, stormwater recapture and groundwater management.