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!