Commerce awards $4 million to make community buildings more energy efficient

  • May 20, 2021

Projects save taxpayer dollars by retrofitting schools, hospitals and municipal facilities and upgrading heating, cooling and lighting systems to reduce energy consumption.

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced nearly $4 million in grants to state and local government agencies for 17 energy efficiency projects that will deliver a projected reduction of more than 5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually – enough to power about 480 average homes annually.

“The built environment represent nearly one-fifth of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions related to generating the electricity used in buildings.” said Lisa Brown, state Commerce Director. “Investing to make public buildings energy efficient is an important element of our state’s clean energy future. These projects will reduce harmful emissions, save on energy costs for schools and other public buildings and create good jobs that strengthen communities throughout the state.”

Washington’s 2021 State Energy Strategy identifies energy efficiency in buildings as a core strategy for meeting decarbonization goals. The strategy targets a 26% reduction in energy use in buildings by 2050 and highlighted the need for the state to lead by example with public capital projects, especially for schools, hospitals, and rural public buildings.

The proposed projects awarded grants are:

  • City of Bellevue – $129,000 to retrofit and replace lighting fixtures and systems at five fire stations and the Bellevue Service Center and add efficient electric heat pump technology to the HVAC system at one station.
  • Grant County Public Utility District – $429,769 to update heating, lighting and control systems in their Ephrata headquarters with new, efficient equipment that meets targets required by the state’s new Clean Buildings Standard.
  • Harborview Hospital – $301,239 to update the HVAC system in one wing with equipment that will reduce energy consumption and support the hospital’s ventilation and pressurization systems.
  • Kittitas Valley Healthcare – $500,000 to improve the ventilation systems for the surgery area and emergency department, install LED lighting upgrades throughout the building, install equipment to increase the efficiency of the water heaters and replace the chiller used to cool the MRI equipment.
  • Klickitat Valley Health – $60,235 to replace and update equipment and controls in the HVAC and ventilation systems.
  • Lake Washington School District – $127,531 to replace HVAC controls at five elementary schools, retrofit athletic field lighting at four high schools and install heat pumps at the support services center.
  • Mukilteo School District – $39,300 to add advanced ventilation controls for two gymnasiums, install energy-saving heating and cooling water pumps at two schools, improve efficiency of the boiler at one school, upgrade control systems at three schools and provide an evaluation to identify and implement low-cost fixes at three schools.
  • Napavine School District – $225,000 to replace the aging boiler plant at the high school, improve HVAC infrastructure and install LED lighting throughout the school.
  • North Seattle College – $386,974 for system upgrades to six buildings to meet requirements of the new Clean Buildings Standard. The college will improve the HVAC system in one building, seal ducts in four buildings, install LED lighting and new controls in seven buildings, air seal around windows and doors in four buildings and evaluate and adjust plumbing fixtures in eight buildings to ensure they are working efficiently.
  • Port Townsend School District – $469,000 to replace a 40-year old heating system with heat pump technology in the high school’s main building, and add heat pumps for the elementary school’s heating system that will only require use of the boilers on very cold days.
  • Seattle Central College – $268,443 to install an air-water heat pump in the Broadway building and efficient LED lighting and new controls in the Science and Math building.
  • Sedro Wooley School District – $300,000 to improve overall performance of the high school HVAC system and replace lighting fixtures with LEDs.
  • Snohomish School District – three grants totaling $75,800 to install upgraded control systems At Cathcart Elementary, Totem Falls Elementary and Central Primary Schools that will reduce energy use when the building is not in use and increase heating and electrical efficiency.
  • South Seattle College – $351,297 to air seal around windows and doors campus-wide, seal ducts in three buildings, retrofit lighting in 18 buildings and to evaluate and adjust fixtures in 20 buildings to reduce water use. Because large hangar doors in the trades areas are often left open with systems running, sensors and controls will be added to reduce heating and cooling when doors are open.
  • Yelm Community Schools – $115,628 for Yelm Prairie Elementary School to retrofit original HVAC and control systems, improving ventilation, comfort and safety. Mill Pond and Fort Stevens Elementary Schools will upgrade to LED lighting to improve the learning environment.

All grant awards are conditional, pending execution of final contracts. The competitively scored grant process prioritized projects with the highest projected savings in both energy and operational costs, as well as matching funds provided by applicants. To support the needs of rural communities, 20% of the funding was allocated to projects in cities and towns with populations of less than 5,000. Many of these projects improve the health, comfort, and safety of our public schools, libraries, hospitals and civic buildings.

“Kittitas Valley Healthcare, with help from Department of Commerce, will be pursuing energy efficiency improvement measures that will benefit our patients and our community by reducing our carbon footprint, renewing critical equipment life expectancy, reliability and reducing our operating costs,” said Chief of Facilities Ron Urlacher. “We are excited to get this project underway.”

“The Napavine School District appreciates the partnership with the Department of Commerce,” said Superintendent Shane Shultz. “This project is a great balance of energy savings and HVAC infrastructure improvements at our High School. This project will have an immediate positive impact on our facility’s learning environment. We are thrilled for the collaboration and partnership with the Department of Commerce.”

“We are really looking forward to this opportunity to improve our campus buildings’ energy efficiency,” said Facilities Operations and Capital Projects Director Craig Grosinger. “We have a Sustainable Building Science Technology program (Bachelor of Applied Science Degree) here at South Seattle College. The work that the Commerce grant is enabling partners well with our college’s culture and philosophy; in addition to saving the college money!”

More information about this program is available on Commerce’s webpage.

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