NW Natural energy champion, Walter Fuller, discusses successful strategies with staff from peer organization, Meals on Wheels People.
When it comes to energy efficiency, bigger is better. So when some Portland-area organizations formed a “mega cohort” through Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) offering, they found that working together as a big group meant they could go above and beyond in energy savings.
The mega cohort recently gathered at the Oregon Convention Center—a LEED® Platinum certified facility and cohort member—for their year-end SEM workshop. The convention center, along with 37 SEM peer organizations—Portland-area schools and colleges, city and county administrations, public recreation departments, utility providers, healthcare and fitness companies, nonprofits and more—discussed successful strategies. Ryan Harvey, sustainability manager at the Oregon Convention Center, said, “We’re honored to host this event because we share the same passion and dedication to innovative energy management as the other SEM participants.”
Energy Trust energy coaches acknowledged each participant’s year-long dedication to energy management and the savings milestones reached. During 2018, they developed engagement activities and created annual energy management action plans, completed no- and low-cost operations and maintenance projects, and consistently tracked energy performance.
Mega cohort energy coach, Wendy Gibson, recognizes the contributions of engaged participants and proactive executive sponsors.
Select 2018 achievements
Meals on Wheels People, an organization that provides food and social support to seniors, completed numerous energy projects. One SEM project had staff adopt new energy procedures and behavioral changes, which has helped the organization save more than 43,000 kWh. Meals on Wheels People is planning additional projects, including LED lighting for office spaces, energy-efficient exit sign lighting and a rooftop unit upgrade.
North Clackamas School District has more than 30 K–12 schools, where SEM team members engaged students in energy management activities. After noticing energy-saving reminder stickers would wear out quickly, students in one school designed more durable light switch covers that prompted others to “hit the switch” to save energy. Robert Martinez, the district’s facility operations supervisor, said, “The students’ goal was to put these light covers on every switch in their school and eventually throughout the school district.” Staff also conducted campus walks at night to ensure unnecessary lighting was turned off. As a result, the district saved more than 336,000 kWh and 3,000 therms and was recognized as Best Peer Mentor at the SEM workshop.
NW Natural completed successful energy management strategies at three of their facilities and realized workplace savings of 7,700 kWh and 8,600 therms in 2018, while also meeting their goals for energy resource conservation advocacy and carbon emission reduction. The SEM team conducted employee seminars on reducing energy use and plans to create a five-year roadmap of energy-saving projects, including inter-departmental energy policy collaboration, monthly energy use analyses at all sites and a high-bay lighting upgrade.
Mega cohort, mega savings
Throughout 2018, the mega cohort achieved net energy savings of 10.6 million kWh and 310,000 annual therms. These savings equate to heating or powering about 1,600 homes, reducing about 7,600 tons of carbon from the environment or taking about 1,600 cars off the road.