Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Introducing NRG Benchmarking

Last March I published a blog post here about my being accepted into a federal training program for energy efficiency accounting and benchmarking. The City of Seattle is getting ready to do a big mailing out to building owners of structures 10,000 square feet or larger and 5 units or more in the multifamily category (so anything larger than a 4-plex). Most property owners don’t know they are required to report benchmarking information to the city (and elsewhere in the state interested parties can demand the information but you are not required to proactively report it). A number of individuals of qualifying backgrounds in real estate, construction, HVAC and building maintenance, were invited to this training and we became certified to use Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager.

The assumption is that many property owners would rather hire a third party expert to perform this benchmarking instead of going through the hours it will take to become familiar with the procedure and doing it themselves. In the case of rental property, every single tenant must give permission in writing to the property owner to obtain individual billing information from each account. It will take some leg work to get all those forms signed off on, and that’s where I come in. I can get all of the permissions, the data transferred, and complete the benchmarking report to the City of Seattle as required.

I have just started a separate website and blog to address this new service I provide, called NRG Benchmarking. I also am listed on the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council list of Service Providers and am an Energy Star Partner. You can email me at or call 206.686.4663 for more information.

Seattle City Light offers more incentives to commercial building owners to become more energy efficient

Special Offer
Seattle City Light is offering additional incentives above our standard funding for retrofits and new equipment that save electricity.

Medium & Large Commercial: up to an additional 15% incentive on most measures for new commercial projects.

Small Commercial: additional incentives now rebate 80% of the average installed cost for most lighting retrofit fixtures. 

Learn More  
Increased incentives are anticipated to last through 2011, as budget allows. We encourage you to submit your projects early to ensure ample time for project review and processing.  Please note the following program information and guidelines:  Medium & Large Commercial:

  • Download an updated list of Medium/Large Commercial incentives here    
  • 70% funding cap; excludes projects with a pay-back of 6 months or less
  • Contact your Energy Management Analyst or SCL Energy Advisors at (206) 684-3800

 Small Commercial:  

  • Download an updated list of Small Commercial incentives here  
  • Incentives are provided to encourage small commercial business owners to invest in changing out their old T-12 lighting fixtures to T-8 lamps and efficient ballasts
  • Contact Eugenia Morita for rebate information, or contact SCL Energy Advisors at (206) 684-3800 


Help commercial customers take advantage of increased Seattle City Light energy-saving incentives to improve their bottom line this year. Upgrading now will reduce overall operating costs, lower electricity bills and improve customer and employee satisfaction.  And new increased incentives mean shorter pay-back times.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your Energy Management Analyst or call SCL Energy Advisors at (206) 684-3800.

“Building Green: Good for Planet, The Wallet, and The Bottom Line”

There was an important article that came out this week that I wanted to call to your attention. After 4 years in a Built Green Home and almost as long being certified in green housing, I’ve starting to see real meat and potato information coming out after more homes have been built/renovated, and it is being embraced by the consumer/home buyer.

Building green is getting big, better and cheaper. And it’s not just for new construction: from simple energy efficiency projects to “deep energy retrofits,” owners and leasers of existing homes and commercial buildings can join the green building boom.

Read more from

Admiral Theater Brings FREEDOM Film To Seattle August 6th

Along with The North American Clean Energy Tour

I love it when big things happen locally to me. The Admiral Theater in West Seattle is proud to present the only Seattle theatrical premiere of FREEDOM, the jolting new documentary that takes a hard look at America’s perilous and unsustainable addiction to foreign oil on Saturday, August 6th at 7 PM. The documentary, which focuses on a surprising solution to America’s oil dependence, is from the filmmakers of the award winning Sundance documentary FUEL. I plan to attend and I am partway through FUEL, available to stream on demand on Netflix.

The Freedom Bus has a 30 city tour planned.

In a move that harkens back to the grand old days of showmanship, the husband and wife FREEDOM filmmaking team of Josh and Rebecca Tickell are embarking on a three month, 30+ city North American Clean Energy Tour in a fully customized Freedom Bus, a “green” constructed, highly energy efficient vehicle that will park at movie theaters playing the film. The FREEDOM Bus (@Freedom_Film on Twitter) will be open to the public for free and will showcase the latest biofuel-efficient, advance fuels and wind, solar and water technology. They’ll be filming webisodes of The FREEDOM Drive! Come participate, debate and be inspired…

FREEDOM features an eclectic array of personalities, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former NATO commander Wesley Clark, singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, (who scored the film), international author Deepak Chopra, and such “green” actors as Ed Begley, Jr. (seriously one of my favorite people!!), Amy Smart, and Michelle Rodriguez.

FREEDOM invites audiences to not just get mad, but to get motivated, offering serious fuel for thought for empowering people with knowledge and inspiring social change. The film explores the role that Ethanol plays as a homegrown alternative that will boost the domestic economy, create jobs and reduce our need to rely on dangerous and unstable parts of the world for our fuel. There is widespread agreement that America needs to wean itself off oil yet Ethanol has become a lightning rod of controversy. An anti Ethanol coalition made up of both big oil and radical environmentalists stokes the fires of that controversy every day. Debate rages on the pros and cons of Ethanol but what is the truth?

Both Josh and Rebecca Tickell will be available after the film for an audience Q&A. Tickets are $10.00 for the exclusive screening and can be bought at the Admiral starting Friday, August 5 or through Brown Paper Tickets. Or donations can be made at the door. You can RSVP for the event on Facebook here.

FREEDOM is a Green Planet Productions release. More information on FREEDOM, its theatrical release, its DVD release, and the North American Clean Energy Tour may be found here.

Building Green from Basement to Rooftop

Today, building an eco-friendly home requires much more than just installing extra insulation in the attic. There are literally thousands of eco-friendly products and building options out there to choose from and while daunting, all will deliver improved home efficiency and a unique home that could appreciate beyond standard properties.

In general terms, the best place to begin is to hire an architect. They should be able to articulate the features you’d like integrated into your property, in addition to providing a clear direction for prime and sub-contractors to follow as the home addition is built.

Once permits are secured, source a builder that knows local building codes, but is also a specialist in building eco designs. While in high demand, eco homes are still in their infancy, so be wary of builders who claim to be an expert in everything.

Additional considerations:

  • Choose a site that maximizes sunlight. This will help heat your home during the winter and provide an excellent charge for solar paneling. Also, if possible, position your home near deciduous trees whose bloom will shade the house in summer.
  • Choose building materials such as bricks or siding for their insulation as well as durability.
  • Select energy-efficient lighting options including “day-lighting” such as skylights to minimize energy use. Also consider building in timing, dimming and motion detectors that will turn lights on and off when areas in your home are not in use.
  • Consider having “structured wiring” installed for Smart Home options that enable one-touch (‘smart climate’) light and heat control.
  • A southern facing roof topped with solar panels can heat water, generate electricity and, in some locations, direct surplus electricity back to the electric grid which could earn you credits or additional income.
  • Ensure your insulation will be at R-2000 standards, including R-50 attics, R-25 walls and R-20 basements.
  • Consider the new, micro “combined-heat-and-power” (CHP) unit furnaces that not only heat your home but can also generate up to $800 worth of electricity per year. These can run $13,000 to $20,000, yet you should be fully reimbursed in about three to seven years depending on the cost of electricity.
  • If the CHP furnace is too expensive, consider a heat pump that can deliver energy-efficient air conditioning and heating capabilities.
  • As well, choose energy efficient appliances that have the ENERGY STAR™ endorsement;
  • Insist on low-flow shower heads and faucets, as well as water-efficient reservoirs in your bathrooms;
  • Green Landscaping shouldn’t be forgotten since it can be sculpted to provide natural drainage into flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, or onto lawns where you need water;
  • Finally, check out local and national government “green” programs that may assist you in the purchase of your eco-friendly products through rebates or discount programs.  

Undoubtedly, there will be choices galore while building your new home. However, be sure the ones you select are ones you need and they will deliver tangible benefits to you, the environment and eventually, potential buyers.

Try out our interactive home audit tool

Home Audit Tool partnered with Lowe

As a real estate professional I really focus on saving people money.
I am proud to be a part of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, which is putting an effort into their Green Leadership Initiative. Try out our interactive Home Efficiency Audit Tool, brought to you by Lowe’s. Learn how you can save money by making your home more efficient by using this online audit tool. Projects are broken out into everyday energy savers, conservation tip, weekend projects and big payoff projects. Scroll down to the “Live Green” section at the bottom of the page to learn more.

Low cost/affordable energy improvements available for 2,000 homes in Central or Southeast Seattle NOW

I recently learned of a company that has entered the Pacific Northwest home+energy market, called Energy Savvy. They have been contracted by the City of Seattle to provide a method to roll out affordable energy efficiency upgrades to home owners. It’s called Community Power Works. A press release in April provides the meat of the matter, but here is a brief summary:

Community Power Works for Home plans to upgrade 2,000 homes in its service area over the next two years. The project serves the central and southeast neighborhoods of Seattle, areas which have historically been underserved by energy efficiency programs. It will give residents of those neighborhoods an affordable way to make their homes more comfortable and healthy while making energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.

“Our leaky old houses waste so much energy, it’s like having a window open 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” says contractor Jason Lear, of Batt + Lear, a Seattle green design/build company. “We find our customers like having a home that is far less drafty. They had no idea how much more comfortable they could be in their home, in winter and in summer. And what so many people don’t know is that when you improve the energy savings of a home, you inevitably improve the comfort, the durability and the health of the home, too. ”

Community Power Works for Home is part of a $20 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant awarded through the Department of Energy’s BetterBuildings program. Over a two-year period, Community Power Works is leveraging these federal dollars to produce an additional $25 million in economic activity in the region from state funding, utility rebates, and homeowner investments in their homes. All of this investment will put a charge into a local green industry to preserve and create hundreds of living–‐wage jobs, help homeowners save energy, and reduce the City’s carbon footprint.

(read the whole press release here.)

Community Power Works offers:

  • A deeply discounted home energy assessment. Thanks to incentives from Seattle City Light, this assessment costs only $95 – a $305 savings.
  • Certified contractors to do the work.
  • Rebates and incentives to bring down the cost of your upgrade by up to $3,000.
  • Affordable loans with easy terms to qualify.
  • Energy Experts to help you every step of the way and make sure the job is done right.

From their website:
Community Power Works is offered by the City of Seattle with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the program is to achieve energy savings of at least 15 percent in each home served. The special incentives and financing are available only to projects that meet or exceed this savings level.

See if your house is inside the coverage area – map here.

What all of this means is that you need to jump on this opportunity if you are within the area served. Not only will you save money on your utility bills (I know you keep hearing this over and over) but what it ALSO does it make your home more sell-able in the future.

I can talk about this all day. If you’re interested in learning more about this whole concept of a “house as a building system” and nothing more, and how to improve your current home, please talk to me. Send an email using the button on the right, message on Facebook, or call me at 206.686.HOME (4663).

Thanks! and have a wonderful weekend!

Wendy Hughes-Jelen