Bucks for Buildings jump starts energy-efficiency projects in 2013

Bucks for Buildings jump starts energy-efficiency projects in 2013

The City of Portland’s Bucks for Buildings rebate program brought together a federal grant, Energy Trust incentives and Energy Trust trade ally contractors to support commercial building owners making qualifying energy-efficiency upgrades. The effective combination brought in more than 33 projects this spring and summer. With this limited-time offering, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability helped small businesses save energy and money by lowering project costs between 50 and 75 percent, and connecting participants to Energy Trust assistance.

An exterior lighting project at Food Front Cooperative Grocery in Portland’s Hillsdale neighborhood and a new boiler at Concordia University in northeast Portland are just two examples of projects made possible this year because of the added funding.

Concordia University regularly looks to Energy Trust incentives for the facilities’ annual life-cycling list of upgrades, according to Doug Meyer, director of physical plant services, Concordia. Speaking of the added Bucks for Buildings funding, “This made the project so affordable that I don’t know if I would have done that project this summer otherwise,” said Meyer. “It did cause us to act. And we’re very excited about that.”

Concordia University replaced a 40-year-old boiler in its gymnasium building. “The boiler was reliable but not particularly energy efficient,” said Meyer. The total project cost was $68,757. Concordia picked up the tab for less than half of the cost after $8,000 in Energy Trust incentives and $30,000 in Bucks for Buildings rebates.

The lights are shining much brighter at Food Front, which replaced its exterior metal halide lighting at the store’s canopied entrance and the incandescent lighting along the storefront with LED lighting. The store’s fluorescent pole sign was also replaced with LEDs. Completed in March with $8,309 in project costs, 81 percent of the project was paid through $4,502 in Bucks for Buildings rebates and $2,251 in Energy Trust incentives.

Dave Emmeneggar, Alderbrook & Associates, the Energy Trust trade ally that installed the lighting, said the project was a success on several fronts—energy savings, longevity and reduced maintenance. Where lighting was once replaced on a monthly basis, Food Front can now expect to go nearly 10 years before changing its new energy-efficient LED lamps.

Food Front Store Manager John Conlin is pleased with the improved exterior lighting and mentioned that the project, combined with improvements made with the Hillsdale Main Street project, helped earn Food Front the Sustainability at Work gold-certified designation from the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Food Front was the first Hillsdale store to receive this honor and is one of only two grocery stores to have achieved gold-certification.

The 33 projects completed through Bucks for Buildings are set to receive $292,685 in funding from the City of Portland plus another $106,036 in Energy Trust incentives. To date, the completed projects are saving 227,531 kilowatt hours of electricity and 355 therms of natural gas, with more to come by the end of the year.