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Free Professional Development Available During Pandemic
Despite the difficult economic and human impact of COVID-19, the work of energy efficiency is moving forward, with free support available for many organizations across the state. Help is available from Energy Trust of Oregon and its network of contractors, including offers of educational resources, and incentives and rebates that put needed cash into Oregon industries and our communities as we rebuild.
Along with homeowners and renters, Energy Trust of Oregon also offers incentives and rebates that help municipalities, universities, schools, health care facilities, grocery stores, restaurants and many others make energy-efficient improvements to their facilities. The projects can vary widely, from updating HVAC, lighting, foodservice equipment and insulation to installing a solar array or even advising on the design and construction of a new building. The improvements help organizations use less energy and realize major savings on their utility bills. Depending on the projects, incentives can be as much as tens of thousands of dollars and offset much of the upfront costs of installation.
For example, Energy Trust is supporting several projects in central Oregon including the development and construction of new hotels in Bend as the community’s tourism industry continues to grow. Many upgrades do more than save energy. Some can increase safety, productivity and comfort.
Also underway are expanded, free opportunities for professional development and education in the energy efficiency field for a variety of professionals. Due to remote work during the pandemic, Energy Trust has moved all of its commercial training and education events online where some classes have seen a more than 60 percent increase in enrollment over last year. The events provide rare, free continuing education credits for engineers, architects and real estate professionals. The free courses build skills in Oregon for professionals who can upgrade and increase the efficiency of our infrastructure, and offer valuable credits for professionals who must earn them to keep their licenses.
As an example, a recent online panel discussion focused on creating new or turning existing buildings into net-zero buildings — or buildings that create as much energy as they use. This discussion featured two projects from different regions in Oregon, including one that received nearly $300,000 in incentives from Energy Trust. Go to energytrust.org/events to look at some of the other training events in the weeks and months ahead.
Other support available for Oregon businesses includes annual grants for both current architecture and engineering professionals and student interns. Energy Trust’s Net Zero Fellowship and internship grants support Oregon professionals whose work is focused on creating and maintaining net-zero buildings. Energy Trust just released the research from its 2018 fellows, which helps educate the field about net-zero building technology. One analyzed the energy and student performance benefits of net-zero schools. Another looked at helping designers create efficient, resilient buildings with our future climate in mind.
Energy efficiency is the lowest cost resource available to Oregon’s communities. Since 2002, Energy Trust has invested $2 billion in utility customer funds, which has saved $8.2 billion in total utility bill savings for businesses, residents and organizations, and added $8.3 billion to Oregon’s economy. Any work in energy efficiency, no matter the size of the project, will strengthen an organization, its community and all of Oregon.