For the last couple of years, the City of Seattle has been trying an experiment, called Community Power Works, to get commercial and residential building owners to make energy conservation upgrades. And apparently, they've been successful. Through conducting audits as of equipment like water heaters, lighting and air conditioning, and linking owners to financing program and qualified contractors, the program has been getting building and home owners to make changes that's saving them money and using a lot less power.
Sadly, the future of the program is uncertain. City Councilman Mike O'Brien noted at the council's briefings meeting on Monday that the original $20 million federal grant that created the program will run out next May. The city will have to figure out what aspects of the program to continue with local funding.
Still, the program's manager Joshua Curtis outlined the successes thus far, and it's impressive. The program is on its way toward exceeding its goal of retrofitting 600,000 square feet of commercial space. Thus far, 300,000 square feet have been completed, 110,000 square feet is under construction, 1.5 million square feet are under bid negotiations, and 2.2 million square feet are in the auditing process.
Four major hospitals – Harborview, Virginia Mason, Swedish, and Group Health – have been involved in the program.
Additionally, 780 single family homes and 600 multifamily units have completed upgrades or are in progress. Homeowners are saving 28 to 30% of their energy consumption, more than anticipated, and are investing an average of almost $15,000 per home to achieve that. City Councilman Richard Conlin noted on his blog, "As the program winds down next year, the City will have to determine if there are key elements that should be funded locally, or if there is enough momentum in the private sector to keep the energy conservation work going. Community Power Works has demonstrated that we can stimulate the private sector to create jobs through saving energy, and we need to ensure that this activity continues."
Watch the City Council presentation here.
· Save money, energy with new sponsor Community Power Works [West Seattle Blog]
· Community Power Works expands services to all of Seattle [DJC]
· Community Power Works Is Just Getting Started [Sightline.org]