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Green Building - Water and Energy Efficiency
Water provides basic services: human health, cleaning, and waste management. Even in the rainy Northwest, water can be in short supply. Demand peaks during the summer, when rainfall is at its lowest. By focusing on the services water provides, opportunities to minimize water waste indoors, (see the Watersheds & Habitat section on the Location and Landscape page for information on outdoor water use), will reduce water and sewage utility bills, and protect the health of streams that salmon and other wildlife depend upon.
Questions to Consider
- What water-efficient measures are possible for equipment, HVAC, and other industrial processes?
- What water-efficient fixtures are available for kitchen, bath and laundry?
- What opportunities are available for capturing rainwater for non-potable uses?
Like water, energy provides basic services: light, comfort, safe food, and cleanliness, for example. The production of energy touches a vast array of environmental and public health concerns: air quality, climate change, and fish and wildlife habitat, for example. By focusing on the services that energy provides, opportunities to improve energy efficiency, tap clean energy sources, and improve the overall quality of the indoor environment will become apparent.
Questions to Consider
- How can the building be sited and designed to make optimum use of natural daylight?
- How can the building be kept comfortable - warm in winter, cool in summer - "automatically" through passive solar design techniques?
- How can long-term energy costs be minimized by making efficient, integrated choices for the building shell, windows, heating/cooling equipment, appliances and electric lighting?
- For commercial/institutional buildings, what are the cost reduction and operational benefits that "commissioning" will provide?
- What technologies are available for generating clean power on site?
- How can the utility grid be used to "store" surplus power generated on site?
Business, Industry and Government (BIG) Water Conservation Program -
Portland Water Bureau - For Greater Portland Area Businesses
Offers free services, site assessments, workshops, information, networks, and recognition to companies practicing water conservation.
Smart Communities Network
Offers access to the primary sources of assistance and information available to specific communities for implementing Best Management Practices for water efficiency.
City of Seattle Technical Assistance
Includes information and technical assistance resources for landscaping, water conservation, irrigation, salmon-friendly practices, and more.
Colorado Office of Water Conservation
Information is available on: drought planning, water saving tips for business and indoor and outdoor use, leak detection, water audits, xeriscaping practices and publications.
Rainwater Harvesting - Texas Water Development Board
Rainwater harvesting is emerging as a water conservation measure in Texas and elsewhere. They have published a document: Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting, available in pdf at this site. They also have links to equipment information, systems and suppliers.
Rocky Mountain Institute
General guidance and links
Water Alliances for Voluntary Efficiency (WAVE) - US EPA
(For Commercial & Institutional Buildings)
WAVE was a voluntary program from 1992 until recently. Although the program is no longer running, one of the remaining products is free water management software for hotels, office buildings, and educational institutions.
WaterWiser - The Water Efficiency Clearinghouse
WaterWiser is a program of the American Water Works Association operated in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. They maintain a water-efficient products and services directories, provide access to relevant publications and water conservation information.
Also refer to Watersheds & Habitats for links to to information related to site planning issues such as water-efficient landscaping and controlling runoff.
Technical Assistance & Incentives
Building America Program - U.S. Department of Energy
(For Residential Development)
Building America works with members of the home building industry to produce new quality homes that use up to 50% less energy without costing more to build.
The Energy & Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
The EEBA promotes the awareness, education and development of energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and communities. Published goals, objectives and criteria for energy and resource efficient buildings. Also published Builder Guide for Hot-Humid Climates.
Energy Program - Washington State University
Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program is part of the nationwide network of land grant institutions and cooperative extension services. Their mission is to supply energy information and services for business, government, and individuals to improve personal and global environmental quality and economic well being.
Energy Star: Buildings & Plants
ENERGY STAR Buildings is a voluntary partnership between U.S. organizations and the U.S. EPA to promote energy efficiency in buildings. Participants include a diverse range of owner-occupied, public and commercially owned buildings.
Lighting Design Labs
These labs offer design assistance and simulated demonstrations of potential designs, including daylighting. They promote quality design and energy efficient technologies.
Seattle, WA lightingdesignlab.com/
Betterbricks, Portland, OR
Rebuild America Program - U.S. Department of Energy
(For Existing Buildings)
This program focuses on energy solutions in existing buildings and community structures. Rebuild America “partners” with small towns, large metropolitan areas and Native American tribes, and supports communities with access to DOE Regional Offices, State Energy Offices, National Laboratories, utilities, colleges and universities, and non-profit agencies.
Exemplary Buildings Program
High-performance buildings research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reduces energy consumption in residential and commercial buildings through development of whole-building design methods and computer programs that integrate passive solar, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies. Includes energy simulation software.
Environmental Energy Technologies Division
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Performs research and development leading to better energy technologies and reduction of adverse, energy-related, environmental impacts.
American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Advances energy efficiency by advising governments, conducting technical and policy assessments, organizing conferences and publishing reports for residential, industrial and commercial buildings. ACEEE recently published the "Guide to Energy-Efficient Commercial Equipment" which provides practical, up to date information on how to reduce energy consumption, improve building systems performance and increase worker comfort and productivity. The Guide covers lighting, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC), and motors, as well as other energy using equipment. The $40 guide is available by phone at 202-429-0063 or email@example.com.
Efficient Windows Collaborative Web Site
This collaborative provides unbiased information on the benefits of energy-efficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and recommendations for their selection and use. Certifies manufacturers/suppliers as members when they commit to manufacture and promote energy-efficient windows.
EPA's Energy Star Products
ENERGY STAR®-labeled products use less energy than other products and include:
- Household Appliances
- Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- Exit Signs
- Home Electronics
- Office Equipment and Computers
- Heating and Cooling Products
- Residential Lighting Fixtures
- Roof Products
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is a non-profit group of electric utilities, state governments, public interest groups and industry representatives committed to bringing affordable, energy-efficient products and services to the marketplace.
Tips for Daylighting
Guidelines provide an integrated approach to the cost-effective design of perimeter zones in new commercial buildings. They function as a quick reference for designers through a set of easy steps and rules-of-thumb, emphasizing "how-to" practical details.
Clearinghouses and Databases
Residential Energy Efficiency Database - Energy Efficient Housing Construction
Energy Ideas Clearinghouse
Energy Information Clearinghouse
Centre for the Analysis and Dissemination of Demonstrated Energy Technologies (CADDET) - Case Studies in Energy Efficiency
Renewable Energy Information Links
A Survey of Retail Green Power Programs in the Pacific Northwest and Beyond
Surveyed profiles of twenty-seven utility green power programs summarizes each program, their green power offering, pricing scheme, marketing techniques, and customer responses.
Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC)
The foremost resource for passive solar design and product information, offering professional training, consumer education and analysis tools nationwide.
The Renewables Program at Washington State University
Assists clients in finding innovative solutions to energy problems that utilize renewable energy. Services include: technical assistance, education, workshops, and field assistance.
The American Solar Energy Society (ASES)
A national organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar energy and promoting the widespread near-term and long-term use of solar energy. ASES sponsors the National Solar Energy Conference, publishes SOLAR TODAY magazine and Advances in Solar Energy and other pertinent documents.
Alternative Energy Engineering Catalog and Design Guide
Design information and equipment for making electricity for homes, RVs and boats, as well as solar fans and coolers, pumps, composting toilets, energy efficient lighting, instantaneous water heaters, super-efficient refrigerators, books and much more.
Solar and Wind Products Available through the EcoMall
Catalog of solar and wind energy products and systems.
In many states, consumers can reduce electricity bills through net metering. Under net metering, electricity produced by their renewable energy system can flow into the utility grid, spinning the existing electricity meter backwards. Even in the absence of net metering, consumers can use the electricity they produce to offset their electricity demand on an instantaneous basis. If the consumer happens to produce any excess electricity (beyond what is needed to meet the customer's own needs at the moment), the utility purchases that excess electricity at the wholesale or 'avoided cost' price, which is much lower than the retail price.
Buying Green Power
Portland General Electric (PGE)
Offers a choice of two forms of renewable "green" power: Clean Wind Power and Salmon-Friendly Power - available in blocks representing 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Residential and commercial customers can purchase.
https://www.portlandgeneral.com (click on "Renewable Power")
Benton County PUD - Washington
Green power is available to retail customers.
www.bentonpud.org (click on "Green Power")
Tacoma Power - Washington
This electricity supplier has started a 16-month pilot program allowing business and residential customers the option of purchasing "green" electricity. Customers pay a premium to help the utility pay for the contract with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to provide 1 megawatt of power. The payments support delivery of power from wind turbines in Wyoming and small hydroelectric facilities in southwest Washington and in Idaho Falls.
Pacificorp Blue Sky Program
Upon enrollment, shares of renewable power are purchased for $4.75 per share per month. Each share represents 100 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity. The amount purchased is variable. Payments go directly toward construction of new renewable energy sources and educating consumers so more will choose to support cleaner power.
Other Utilities in the Northwest Offering Green Power