Energy Efficiency Bolsters Region's Economies

Stories showcase how small businesses, commercial building owners and communities benefit from energy efficiency products and initiatives

Jan 19, 2012, 12:00 ET from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Formula Fabrication, based in Libby, Mont., a small, struggling town, was on the verge of closing its doors a few years ago. With trainings offered by the region's utilities and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) through the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, the company learned about the benefits of ductless heat pumps (DHPs). DHPs allowed Formula Fabrication to offer its customers a product that delivers more comfort than traditional heating systems and saves them 25 to 35 percent on heating bills through incentives offered by the local utility, Flathead Electric Cooperative. Business is now booming for the company and Libby residents are seeing returns on their bills with the energy saved.

In Bellevue, Wash., commercial buildings need to innovate to compete in a challenging market. The Kilowatt Crackdown, a benchmarking competition that NEEA sponsors with Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) plus local utilities, challenges building owners and managers to reduce energy usage by tapping into the inherent "competitive nature" of the commercial real estate industry. Bentall Kennedy, building owners of One Newport, entered the Kilowatt Crackdown and won first place for the Highest Performing Small Building and is seeing great results in both energy and dollars saved.  

Bainbridge Island, Wash. residents—when faced with the construction of a new substation—came together to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy use as a community. RePower Bainbridge, which is sponsored in part by the City of Bainbridge Island, U.S. Department of Energy and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, took a one-stop-shop approach to make it easier for homeowners to achieve their energy efficiency goals, reduce energy costs and experience greater comfort in their homes. To do this RePower Bainbridge offers in-home energy assessments for homeowners to create a baseline of their current energy use and costs, cash-back incentives for qualifying improvements, access to Kitsap Credit Union's Energy Efficiency Loan Program and connects homeowners to a local, skilled workforce of contractors through the RePower Trade Ally Network. As a result, Bainbridge Island residents came together and significantly lowered their energy use, thereby not needing the new substation, becoming a model for community energy efficiency efforts. Similar initiatives are being adopted nationwide.

"These stories demonstrate the reality that energy efficiency and building the economy go hand in hand," said Gregg Small, executive director for Climate Solutions. "We are seeing businesses, individuals and communities doing what's needed to build the clean-energy economy, with real solutions on the ground every day."  

The companies, organizations and communities and their inspiring stories of energy efficiency are featured in newly released videos produced by Climate Solutions, a Northwest-based clean energy economy nonprofit, who is spearheading the Solutions Stories project. NEEA is a founding sponsor.

The Solutions Stories Project captures and communicates clean energy economy success stories in the Northwest, including progress on clean energy and energy efficiency.

"We applaud companies such as Formula Fabrication and Bentall Kennedy who are taking steps to reduce energy usage and are pleased to help tell their stories," said Phill Guay, senior manager, NEEA. "Not only do these new videos illustrate NEEA's commitment to energy efficiency, they also demonstrate the real impact in the Northwest that business owners and organizations can have when they employ energy-efficient solutions and initiatives."

The three new videos are:

I Want My DHP!
Formula Fabrication, a family owned HVAC company, boosted their business and is saving local customers energy and electricity costs by partnering with Flathead Electric Cooperative to install ductless heat pumps (DHPs) in Libby, Mont.

View the inspiring story here or use this embed code <iframe src=";byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="258" height="145" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

Kilowatt Crackdown
Bentall Kennedy won the small building category in this energy benchmarking competition for its One Newport Building in Bellevue, Wash. By adding motion sensors and lighting controls to the property's energy management system, the firm offers its tenants more comfort and savings.

Watch how they accomplished their goals here or use this embed code: <iframe src=";byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="258" height="145" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

RePower Bainbridge
The City of Bainbridge Island came together with Conservation Services Group, Puget Sound Energy, Kitsap Credit Union and other community groups to implement RePower Bainbridge, an energy efficiency initiative which helps residents save energy, reduce costs and increase the comfort of their homes.

View the story here or use this embed code: <iframe src=";byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;autoplay=1" width="350" height="197" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

"Our success on Bainbridge is in large part the result of our community's engagement from the beginning," said Hilary Franz, RePower Bainbridge representative and former City Council Member. "Our energy solutions originated from a sense of urgency -- an insistence by the community to look at our energy use differently. We came together to understand our energy challenges, to ask 'what's possible?', and to develop a plan for action. Because our community was empowered to design, develop, and implement, we are committed to its success. Our program serves as a model for other communities that by working together, we can all be the solution."

All three stories, video vignettes and additional information about each story and the project can be found at

Climate Solutions is a Northwest-based clean energy economy nonprofit that works to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming by galvanizing leadership, growing investment and bridging divides.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to maximize energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by and works in collaboration with the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities on behalf of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA uses the market power of the region to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power more than 568,400 homes each year. Energy efficiency can satisfy more than half of our new demand for energy, saving money, and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live.

RePower Bainbridge is a community-wide program dedicated to helping Bainbridge Islanders save energy, reduce costs, make their home more comfortable and create a more sustainable Island. RePower Bainbridge provides in-home energy assessments, energy-efficiency financing and incentives, and a local, skilled workforce to make achieving these goals easier and more affordable. The City of Bainbridge Island is one of 20 communities in the United States to receive a BetterBuildings award from the U.S. Department of Energy and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and implemented by the City of Bainbridge Island, Positive Energy and Kitsap Credit Union.

All videos were produced in partnership with Hal Calbom Communications and More Dust Than Digital.

SOURCE Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance