As Oregon businesses work to counter the continued effects of the ongoing pandemic, incorporating a larger energy strategy could pay off substantially in the long-term — and there’s free help to make that happen.
Organizations across the state are together saving millions and cutting emissions thanks to their work with a program that provides free energy coaches and cash incentives for more efficient equipment and materials.
These businesses are participating in Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM). SEM begins with a full audit of the organization’s energy use. The SEM then team works with employees to develop the best strategies to save, year after year. Over the years, SEM has served organizations of many sizes including Intel and Nike. In 2016, Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (GICW) became one of the state’s first small businesses to join the energy saving program.
Leading the way for other smaller businesses to benefit from energy education, GICW has saved more than $373,000 on utility costs over the last five years, saving $160,000 last year alone. The savings means more money to put toward Goodwill’s mission of helping more Oregonians find and keep quality jobs.
Some of the ways Goodwill has saved include
- Developing new protocol for employees on when to open and close bay doors at donation sites (this alone saved 12 percent in energy use.)
- Utilizing ‘heat maps’ from their electric companies which show when exactly energy use spikes in their facilities — allowing them to track down any energy-wasting equipment
- Upgrading building control systems which better regulate temperature and allow Goodwill to closely monitor energy use across their facilities
- Installing new, energy-saving LED lighting
The organization is also working to educate its 2,300 employees on the benefits of energy efficiency through, among other means, newsletters, informational dashboards and in-store radio announcements. Employees leave with a better understanding of how energy saving at home not only saves money but makes their spaces more comfortable.
Thirty-eight of Goodwill’s stores — including the stores in Bend and Redmond — are enrolled in SEM.