When it comes to saving money through energy efficiency, it pays to learn from the experts. That’s why the Port of Portland is participating in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management program. The cohort-based, two year program has helped organizations such as Intel, the City of Portland and Nike identify energy use behavior changes that routinely lead to significant cost savings.
The Port’s goal: achieve energy savings of 3-5% in seven enrolled buildings within two years. If successful, the Port will receive incentives of $.02 for every kilowatt hour of electrical energy use reduction and $.20 for every therm of natural gas use reduction.
To learn how to meet that target, the Port’s cohort – which includes Metro, Clackamas County, Portland Community College, Mt. Hood Community College and the City of Gresham – participates in monthly conference calls and bi-monthly meetings to learn from the Energy Trust and each other.
To know what to change, the Port first has to more fully understand its current energy usage. A baseline is established by collecting data on the current energy use patterns of participating buildings. Once collected, the data is combed through to find potential opportunities for cost savings.
Part of the program’s business appeal is that its focus is on behavior change, rather than costly new infrastructure or equipment. Once potential energy use changes are identified, the program’s managers at the Port will turn their efforts to communicating the message and generating buy-in among employees. Baselining and data gathering will end in October 2015, from which point the Port will have one year to achieve the 3-5% energy reduction target.
The emphasis on energy efficiency isn’t new to the Port. The Port has been collecting energy use data since 2001 and began its Carbon Reduction Initiative in 2009, with the goal of reducing the Port’s carbon footprint 15% below 1990 levels by 2020. The Port’s LEED Platinum-certified headquarters building features such energy-efficient features as a closed-loop ground source heating and cooling system, and a system that optimizes the use of sunlight for interior lighting.
Franko Martinec, the Port’s liaison with the Energy Trust, is confident the program will be able to successfully build on the Port’s culture of conservation and responsibility, and spread positive environmental impact and financial cost savings throughout Port facilities.
“I have a lot of hope that this information will enlighten us about our energy use and that we’ll be able to use it to teach Port employees and, eventually, tenants and the airlines to more effectively conserve energy.”