Our new Assistant City Manager/Chief Information Officer, Jorge Salinas, asked me to post this message as my weekly column, and I’m happy to do so. In August 2013, the City of Albany enrolled in the Energy Trust’s Commercial Improvement (CEI) program through the Strategic Energy Management Group. The program objectives are:

  • Develop a continuous improvement process for energy management.
  • Introduce tools, templates, and other resources to help implement the process.
  • Provide technical assistance and training to help identify energy use and recognize energy savings opportunity, including low- and no-cost energy management improvements.
  • Provide assistance to quantify and document energy savings.
  • Provide financial incentives to help implement capital and operations and maintenance projects.
  • Provide financial incentives for documented energy savings achievements resulting from improved energy management practices.

The City of Albany made significant progress on those objectives during the 2014 calendar year. In February 2014, directors reviewed and Wes, as our executive sponsor, approved an energy management policy for the City. Shortly after the policy was approved, a core team was formed; it includes Richard Johnson (PW Water Reclamation Facility Supervisor), Tom Valentino (Building and Facility Lead), Rusty Southwick (IT), and Jorge Salinas. The energy team has conducted multiple building-specific energy opportunity assessments that led to the development of an opportunity register which has allowed us to organize and prioritize actions and projects for this program.

The City’s initial goals for the program were to:

  • Reduce our overall electrical and natural gas energy consumption on selected sites by five percent every year for the next three-year period beginning in July 2014.
  • Establish an energy fund from current savings that would fund future energy-related projects, thus enabling the City to continue supporting the program.

Accomplishments for the first year include:

  • Electrical savings including a reduction of 822,721 kWh, or 10.71 percent of usage. This rendered $61,646 saved.
  • Natural gas savings including a reduction of 27,162 therms, or 47.47 percent of usage. This rendered $22,932 saved.
  • A check from the Energy Trust for $22,886 as incentive.
  • Capital improvement costs of $13,000 for City Hall (LED lighting upgrades) and $3,900 for the Police Station (HVAC system repairs).

All these savings were made possible through the work of the Energy Management Team.

Our energy savings since joining this program have been impressive, but there is more we can do.

The next step in the process is to extend this program to the rest of the organization through employee engagement. Employee engagement has a direct impact on building energy use. We can either support or hinder Energy Management Team efforts. Employees are a great source of energy-efficiency ideas and suggestions and have the ability to influence organizational norms and culture.

During the next few months, we will be distributing information through quarterly newsletters and placing posters as reminders of the Energy Management Program and encourage you to participate in this effort.