By Libby Martucci <i>For HBJ</i>
STANWOOD — One team is called the Watt Watchers. The other is the C-Hawks.
They consist of 16 businesses in Stanwood, split into two teams that are competing to reduce that amount of energy they use.
The businesses have all been equipped with a high-tech monitoring system that tracks their progress, along with others.
Each business owner is able to view their company’s energy usage on a tablet, making it easier to see their personal impact.
“Everyone is always checking out the energy monitor,” said Tony Hewlett, who owns Hewlett Family Dentistry, part of the C-Hawks. “We even bring up our energy saving ideas at our staff meetings.”
Snohomish County PUD created the competition, which started in February and is running through June.
“One of the goals with this challenge is to make people more cognizant of how they’re using energy and resources,” said Neil Neroutsos, the PUD spokesman.
Aside from the friendly camaraderie developed within the companies, the challenge also brings the community together.
“This gives Stanwood some good exposure, as a place that is business friendly and even a little bit competitive,” said Andy Egloff, president of the Stanwood Chamber of Commerce.
Egloff is also a commercial lender and vice president at Coastal Community Bank, which is competing in the challenge on team C-Hawks.
Stanwood’s economic makeup is similar and comparable to some surrounding cities, should PUD decide to try and replicate this program, Neroutsos said.
“The goal of this pilot program was to see how much small businesses could save through individual employee actions and some fairly low cost equipment changes,” said Neroutsos.
With most of the competing businesses making these small alterations, some are noticing significant changes.
While most are simply adjusting thermostats and turning off lights, Walt Nicholas of Stanwood Hardware is making even those changes simpler.
“We have a device that allows us to link together multiple computers and other energy consumers on one switch,” said Nicholas. “This allows us to push one button and several items will turn off at once, saving time and energy.”
All 16 businesses are finding that the changes they have made — and some are minor — can all be done in their homes as well.
The PUD hopes that this challenge will not only encourage other businesses to follow suit, but Stanwood residents as well.
“Raising awareness and helping save a little money at the same time is a good thing,” Egloff said.
Track the progress of the Stanwood Challenge by visiting www.stanwoodchallenge.com.