Building Efficiency: How It’s Done
Rosa E. Mitsumasu Scotti ~ Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Are you searching for energy savings in building efficiency? If the answer is yes, look no further. At 220 & Change several organizations will show you where to start, how to implement and how much you’ll save.
When it comes to building efficiency missions, the range is broad – we have market-driven strategies, public-private partnerships and triple bottom line initiatives that incorporate environmental health, economic development and community involvement. The following organizations are examples of social entrepreneurship looking to make Seattle a more sustainable city by saving electricity costs, lowering carbon emissions and training underserved population in the clean energy sector.
Allumia: Financing Building Upgrades
Upgrading building efficiency can be a daunting task for any property manager, but Allumia’s business model – with no upfront costs, free maintenance and guaranteed energy savings – aims to eliminate most of the hurdles those property managers face. The concept is simple: Allumia finances, installs, and maintains an efficient lighting system at a customer site, and is paid back out of the customer’s energy savings.
Allumia uses revenue-grade meters to measure exactly how much energy use has been reduced and to map that reduction to the utility rate. This data is used to calculate a customer’s actual dollar savings, some of which goes back to Allumia: “We use real-time metering to show people exactly what they’re saving”, said Aaron Block, Founder and Principal at Allumia, “we started with energy-efficient lighting because it’s measurable – it’s hard to make sustainability stick if it isn’t visible to the end user.”
Since February 2014 Allumia has reached customers in Seattle, Kent and Woodinville, covering a wide range of industries and sizes: from buildings of just a few thousand square feet to complexes several orders of magnitude larger.
Aaron is an Impact Hub Seattle member and serial entrepreneur who also founded Skyline Innovations: “I’ve benefited a lot from being here and able to connect, we’re still working on partnerships, seeing where and how we can move forward”.
Emerald Cities Seattle: E-Efficiency for All
We often think of sustainability as a function to the environment, but by definition, sustainability consists of long-term social, economic and environmental solutions. Emerald Cities Seattle (ECS) gets it and their mission shows: retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, creating high-wage jobs and advocating for local sustainability policies: “What’s unique about Emerald Cities is that we always talk about the triple bottom line, connecting workforce and the community”, said Steve Gelb, Local Director for Emerald Cities Seattle, “for example, if we’re helping to foster a project or legislation we make sure to create skill-based opportunities for underserved communities including apprenticeships for formerly incarcerated folks, immigrants, and other minorities and let them jump in a career pathway they didn’t have before”.
Though part of the mission is supporting institutions like the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, ECS focuses on building better cities, not just on the environment or climate change: “Cities are getting more efficient already, when Seattle grows, it’ll be the most efficient urban area in our region, people are moving into new buildings with updated energy codes, so despite the growth it still shows that electricity demand is flat but because of energy efficiency and building codes” said Steve, “we are focused on energy efficiency in existing buildings: we want safe, efficient and healthy buildings available to everyone so that people can potentially walk to work. If you have low-wage workers who can’t live in Seattle and have to commute from Kent, it defeats the overall purpose of energy efficiency.”
Just like Allumia, ECS thrives on measurable progress. Steve is constantly looking at local development and asking: “How are we doing? Are we reaching our goals? And if not, how do we get there?”. Read more about Steve’s background and sustainability mission in this interview published by Impact Hub.
Smart Building Center: Testing E-Efficiency
Recently formed in January 2014, the Smart Buildings Center (SBC) formed as a private-public partnership to drive building energy-efficiency projects by (a) creating partnerships with entrepreneurs, industry groups and governmental agencies; and (b) demonstrating energy efficiency in a building setting through interactive display tools and robust data sets.
“Our demonstration partnership supports companies in different stages, some are early-stage trying to define either market segment and product features so we connect them with experts in the industry for insight” said Steve Abercrombie, Project Manager at Smart Buildings Center, “We also work with companies with market-ready products we introduce clients to a person that is an influencer or decision maker in the project. We also provide financial and technical support for new energy efficiency products and solutions to overcome market barriers and get a validated early project installation.” An example of such partnerships is that with Jydo. Brian Howe, CEO at Impact Hub Seattle, introduced Ben Hackett from Jydo, who was looking for a first customer to SBC. The SBC team met with Ben and introduced him to a project, getting him started with a potential client to validate with his audio/video automation business.
As part of their partnership and demonstration goals, SBC hosted “Energy Efficiency for Commercial Buildings” this past July 14th at Impact Hub. The event was a panel discussion and happy hour event for building owners and managers interested in energy efficiency and retrofit projects. Attendees learned about resources including financial incentives, innovative financing strategies, legal issues, and case studies of completed projects.
If you’re interested in joining the building efficiency sector, retrofitting your building to minimize costs and carbon emissions, or learning about local effective sustainability initiatives in Seattle, check out our events’ calendar or visit these forward thinking organizations at 220 & Change.