Monday, June 20, 2016

CEC to provide energy management services to City of Bellingham

In April Sustainable Connections finalized a contract with the City of Bellingham to provide Resource Conservation Manager (RCM) services to 41 city owned buildings. The RCM program was created by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to help large commercial energy users keep their consumption down and the Community Energy Challenge is contracted to provide this service to eligible CEC participants. This arrangement with the City of Bellingham is the end result of months of discussions between Sustainable Connections and the City about how to assist with reducing energy usage in city facilities as part of the Bellingham Energy Prize. The Bellingham Energy Prize is the local effort to win the national Georgetown Energy Prize competition. Currently Bellingham is tied for 4th in this competition which will award $5 million to the community that reduces significant amounts energy and best educates and encourages energy conservation in residences, schools, and municipal buildings. Since commercial buildings are not part of this competition, working with municipal buildings is a chance for the commercial side of the Community Energy Challenge to participate and showcase their abilities!

The RCM program aims to maintain or improve occupant comfort while implementing long term energy savings that target overlooked sources of inefficiency, and will create a detailed picture of how energy is used throughout city owned buildings. The overall process will involve an initial site assessment to analyze building systems and meeting with occupants to learn about the building’s operations, providing a report detailing the results of the assessment, and follow-up support to assist in implementation of measures. All buildings in the program will also be tracked through energy management software that will allow the city to better monitor and analyze energy usage. It is expected that along with reducing energy, the project will also result in improvements to building systems and will have the additional benefit of lowering maintenance costs. While the analysis will be completed by Sustainable Connections staff, personnel from the city Public Works department will also take part in the assessments and will assist with gathering utility data and providing access to the buildings. Overall, this project is part of the larger objective of helping the city achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goal, and will also address water usage and waste management.

The first assessments began in the middle of May and have initially targeted higher energy use buildings and buildings that have other operational needs. At this point the Lightcatcher Museum, Whatcom Museum, Syre Center, and Bellingham Sportsplex have had assessments performed, and efforts to act on the recommendations are expected to begin shortly. The program is aiming to perform about one assessment per week, and expects to perform assessments in all 41 buildings in the program by the end of the year. All members of the energy efficiency team are participating in the process, and everyone is looking forward to seeing the first energy reduction projects get under way!   

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Refer a friend, get $25!

Did you have a great experience with the CEC? Want to earn $25 by giving your friends a chance to save energy and increase their home's value? Here's how!

To refer a friend, you must have had a residential assessment through the CEC.

Step 1:
Talk to your friends in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan or Island County and find out who is interested in a CEC home energy assessment. Make sure to tell them about how your home is warmer and more comfortable, how your bills are lower, and how affordable the project was!

Step 2:
Have your friend call the CEC at 360-676-6099 (toll free at 866-444-5028) to get scheduled for an assessment. Be sure to have them mention that you are the one who referred them (we will also be sure to ask).

Step 3:  
Once your friend has  had the assessment, the CEC will mail you $25 for each friend that signs up!

You may refer as many friends as you like. Share the energy-saving love!

Criteria: To refer a friend, you must have had a residential CEC assessment. CEC home energy assessments are available to homeowners in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, and Island Counties. 
Employees of CEC partner organizations are not eligible for this promotion.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Large solar project in Downtown Bellingham highlights innovative landlord and neighborhood cooporation

When local property owner John Blethen built six live/work condos in downtown Bellingham six years ago, he knew that solar power was a smart choice for the neighborhood. He had the condos, which feature commercial space on the bottom floor and a living space for the proprietor on the top floor, built using the current best solar-ready construction practices in anticipation of the eventual installation of solar arrays on each of the six roofs. That meant positioning the angled roofs to capture the maximum solar potential and selecting a roofing material that made the mounting system really easy. The units were also wired for solar at the time they were built to drastically minimize the electrical work required at installation. The only missing piece of the puzzle was that actually installing the solar panels on the unoccupied condos didn’t quite make financial sense. Yet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

And the RCMmy for Database Management goes to...

Last Wednesday, part of the CEC Commercial Conservation Services team ventured down to PSE headquarters in Bellevue, WA, for the annual RCM meeting. RCMs are Resource Conservation Managers, energy management professionals that work with school districts, government agencies and commercial or industrial customers, to help them reduce energy and resource use and cut costs.

Although RCMs generally focus on managing a single larger customer, the CEC’s Commercial Conservation Services team has its own RCM, Martin Selch, to help the 230+ businesses participating in the Community Energy Challenge  get the support and expertise they need to cut back on energy use. In general, the RCM approach has mostly overlooked the small business sector because the savings per business can be relatively minor and it is hard to justify a dedicated employee to manage their energy use. The CEC decided to take an innovative approach in applying the RCM model to a large group of small businesses to attempt to achieve aggregate savings on par with the savings that a large institution, such as a university, achieves when it adopts a comprehensive energy saving strategy.

For a bit of fun, at every annual RCM meeting PSE awards the RCMmys (R.C. Emmy, get it?), a shiny gold trophy to recognize and reward those RCMs who have performed admirably in a variety of categories. In 2011 the Community Energy Challenge’s Martin Selch was awarded the RCMmy for best Facility Action Plan, and this year we were proud to take home the 2013 RCMmy for Database Management. The trophy is now sitting proudly on our database manager, Nancy Orlowski’s, desk. Rock on, Nancy!

“Here to present the 2013 RCMmy for Excellence in Database Management is someone who knows data better than I know my own mother, Vince Kammeyer, Senior Business Support Analyst on PSE’s Building Performance Team.”

“Data management is second nature to me.  I see .csv files and tabular columns of random numbers in my sleep. If you think you have what it takes to win in this category, then you probably do. Pay attention to that data, because it wants to be your friend!  Without further ado, I am pleased to announce this year’s nominees.” 

“The SC team are excellent at communicating UM adds for new sites & accounts, and completing UM maintenance tasks accurately.  They also let me know when sites/accounts/meters are no longer needed for UM & EIS, and they are super-nice & fun to work with!”

Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Holiday energy saving tips

An energy efficient figgy pudding
1. Switch to LED Christmas lights to save 80% on energy costs.

2. You don’t need to preheat the oven when you are cooking a turkey, and you can turn the oven off a few minutes before it is done cooking.

3. When cooking on top of your range, match the size of the pan to the heating element. This can save you up to 40%!

4. To keep your Christmas lights from running all night, put them on an automatic timer, both indoors and out.

5. Set your thermostat between 66°F and 68°F. You'll stay comfy, and for every 1°F you lower your thermostat, you can reduce your energy use by 1-3 percent.

6. Install a new furnace filter at the start of heating season, and clean or replace it monthly to keep your furnace running efficiently.

7. Keep your refrigerator and freezer well stocked. A refrigerator or freezer full of cold food and drinks stays cooler when you open the door.

8. If you are baking in glass or ceramic pans, you can turn the oven temperature down 25 degrees, and foods will cook just as quickly.

9. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, keep the dampers closed to keep the heat in when the fireplace is not in use.

10. Weatherize your home to save an average of 20-30% on your energy bills! Contact the Community Energy Challenge to sign up for your home energy assessment today.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Incentives available for residential (and commercial) solar projects!

Incentives for residential solar projects are once again part of the many tools offered to CEC homeowners to make becoming energy efficient even easier and more affordable. Any home that has had an energy assessment and has completed all of the recommended weatherization measures in Tier 1-3 is eligible for cash incentives to install solar panels with one of the CEC's vetted local solar installers. Approved projects will receive $1/watt up to $3,000 total for the project.

The CEC also continues to offer a low-interest rate financing opportunity through Banner Bank. In many cases energy savings and incentives can cover the loan payment, making this an attractive way to finance a solar project.

If you are interested in installing solar panels on your home or business, or would like more information, contact the Community Energy Challenge at 360-676-6099.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Low-interest loan opportunity available for CEC participants

Making energy efficiency easy and affordable is the mission of the Community Energy Challenge (CEC). By providing local homes and businesses with a One-Stop-Shop for energy assessments, personalized recommendations, energy advisors, vetted local contractors, quality assurance, and financial incentives, the CEC has helped over 400 homes and 200 businesses in Whatcom County save energy and money. Thanks to a public/private partnership between Banner Bank, Whatcom County and the Cities of Bellingham and Ferndale, one of the most innovative tools the CEC offers is a first-of its-kind low interest rate loan program for participants.