Governor Inslee talks energy with Community Energy Challenge

Governor Jay Inslee toured the Building Performance Center at 3406 Redwood Ave., in Bellingham, on Thursday as the fourth stop on his statewide climate tour.

The Building Performance Center is home to a weather proofing, insulation, and energy efficiency training house, with models of walls, roofs, ducts, attics, and other parts of a house. Every year, nearly 1,000 installers, energy auditors and people who do final inspections of insulation and other energy-saving measures, take training courses at the center.

The Building Performance Center partners with Sustainable Connections, the Opportunity Council, and several other organizations on the Community Energy Challenge, which helps home and business owners reduce energy use.

Inslee said the program is “where the rubber meets the road” for improving energy efficiency. He wanted to know how the program could reach more people.

Out of approximately 2.5 million housing units in Washington, 1.5 million were built before Washington’s building energy code went into effect in 1980, said John Davies, Director of the Building Performance Center.

“I think there’s a huge potential in our residential structures,” Davies said.

In the last four years, the partnership resulted in 900 homeowners and 400 businesses implementing energy efficiency projects, said Alex Ramel, Sustainable Connections policy and energy director.

“The bottom line is we’ve reduced about 6,000 metric tons of carbon pollution every year – the equivalent to getting 1,300 cars off the road yearly,” Ramel said. “We’re just starting to scratch the surface.”

Ramel said knowledge is a bigger barrier than money for most homeowners when it comes to saving energy.

“I would argue for more [energy] assessments,” he said. “Our experience is there’s a lot of energy efficiency measures that homeowners and small business owners could implement with financing they already have available to them, if they just know what makes sense.”

On average, for every two home energy assessments conducted through the Community Energy Challenge, homeowners implement one energy efficiency project, Ramel said. Each project, saves homeowners about $400 a year.

So far on his climate tour Inslee visited the Taylor Shellfish processing facility in Shelton, Wash., to discuss the impacts of ocean acidification on the industry, and toured Anacortes’ new water treatment plant to discuss efforts to adapt to more severe flooding and inconsistent water levels. He also visited King County’s West Point wastewater treatment plant to learn how rising sea level impacts the facility.


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