In today’s construction industry, reducing energy consumption continues to gain popularity as both a guiding vision and a goal. Renewable energy and the incorporation of green construction are increasingly familiar tools to help improve buildings’ sustainability and resiliency. We recently sat down with Amy Haddox, an outreach manager for Energy Trust’s New Buildings Program, to learn more about Energy Trust and how their work is helping to keep energy costs as low as possible, create jobs and build a sustainable energy future for over 2 million utility customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
What is Energy Trust of Oregon?
Energy Trust is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Energy Trust provides services, cash incentives and energy solutions to help participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista save more than $4.6 billion on energy bills. Energy Trust is funded by the Public Purpose Charge that you see on your utility bill, which helps fund energy conservation in a wide range of buildings and projects throughout Oregon. They work closely with a variety of participating utilities and other government agencies, to serve the public with the best possible energy solutions.
How Does it Work?
Energy Trust is a valuable resource for architects, engineers, builders and designers working on new construction and major renovation projects, tenant improvements, additions, expansions and more. We learned about the ins and outs of Energy Trust and how they can help by talking to Amy, who is responsible for coordinating various major renovation projects and ensuring customers are able to access the financial incentives available to them.
The New Buildings program provides incentives for commercial projects, as well as technical guidance to help incorporate energy-efficient measures into new buildings or renovation projects. A variety of commercial equipment types are also eligible for cash incentives, including HVAC, lighting, water heating equipment, commercial cooking equipment and more.
According to Amy, Energy Trust is working to dispel the myth that receiving cash incentives is complicated. One great place to start is to hold an early design assistance (EDA) meeting. Meeting with an Energy Trust outreach manager, at no charge, can help with establishing a baseline energy use intensity (EUI) target and determining strategies to achieve the EUI target. An EDA also helps your team gain a better understanding of the cost-effectiveness and financial feasibility of improved energy efficiency—and how Energy Trust cash incentives can help you achieve your goals.
Amy also explained how cash incentives and technical support make it easier and more affordable to include solar or solar-ready design. When you meet with an Energy Trust Solar Trade Ally early in the design process, they can analyze your project and provide a solar development assistance study, along with projected power generation and savings figures.
What Projects Qualify?
When completing a large project, tenant improvement, renovation or equipment replacement, you may be eligible for incentives. By working with Energy Trust, project teams can receive both Energy Trust cash incentives and long-term energy savings for building operation, so there are significant benefits to enroll. Upfront energy modeling is one example of technical assistance that’s extremely helpful for smaller businesses or nonprofits without a large budget, or with a sharper focus on cutting energy costs. Available incentives for energy modeling mean that Energy Trust could pay up to 60% of modeling fees and half of commissioning and metering costs (not to exceed $40,000).
There are also opportunities to aim for even higher levels of efficiency. Net-zero buildings have the potential to create as much energy as they consume over the course of each year. Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero provides a structured approach that helps guide builders to achieve the highest level of savings possible.
Case Study Example
Meyer Memorial Trust, an Oregon foundation working to accelerate racial, social and economic justice for the collective well-being of Oregon’s lands and peoples, recently worked with Energy Trust to build a new headquarters. Meyer chose to relocate to the Albina neighborhood—the historic heart of Portland’s Black community—and sought to be closer to many of the organizations it supports. The project utilized Energy Trust cash incentives and technical support, including EDA, solar development, energy modeling and daylighting technical assistance through Path to Net Zero. In the end, Energy Trust provided $97,000 in cash incentives and the building will reap an estimated $13,000 in annual energy cost savings.
We want to extend a big thank you to Amy Haddox for providing us with valuable information for this article. Working with Energy Trust can help your project team benefit from a wide variety of generous incentives and expert technical support and other resources—make sure to visit their website to learn more!
For more information about Energy Trust and the New Buildings program, visit www.energytrust.org/newbuildings.