Conserving energy can save businesses big money

EVERETT — Molly Beeman wears a lot of hats at Everett Community College, but basically what she does is save money and teach people how to do the same thing for their employers.

An instructor and a utility manager, Beeman has helped EvCC save as much as $180,000 during the last two years.

Just one example: The college’s 2,400 computers shut off automatically by 10 p.m. if they haven’t already been turned off. That alone saves the college $60,000 a year.

“That’s some serious money if you’re pinching pennies and trying to keep people working,” she said.

Pinching pennies and keeping people working.

That’s the purpose of a program coming up March 31 sponsored by the Everett and South Snohomish County chambers of commerce and the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County and featuring the Snohomish County PUD, Puget Sound Energy and a host of businesses.

Officials from Providence Hospital and EvCC will show how they’ve saved money on new buildings. EvCC will also talk about retrofitting some of its old ones. And restaurant owner Shawn O’Donnell of Everett will talk about how to change employee attitudes in a way that saves money.

Beeman said the college has demonstrated there are a lot of ways to save energy. In addition to looking carefully at its new buildings and retrofitting nearly all its old ways, the college has looked at less traditional projects.

“Instead of hauling all our wood (landscape) debris, we got a wood chipper and three industrial composters,” Beeman said. “We’re not hauling all our wood debris around. We use it on campus and we’re not paying for topsoil.”

She said the college is committed to the concept of sustainability, so she takes the money saved on energy projects and invests it in new ones, typically something that will bring in a return with three years.

Beeman said the continuing effort is important. And she combines it with teaching as many people as possible to continue the work and develop their own ideas.

“If you don’t get people to buy in, these programs don’t survive,” she said. “A major part of my job is to teach people how to do this.”

Beeman teaches people at the college and students who pursue the college’s four-class certificate program in Sustainable Business Operations Management.

The next series of classes begins March 29. The program offers four classes and 19 credits and prepares managers to use conservation and greener alternatives to make their business more sustainable and profitable. Three of the classes will be offered this spring and a fourth will take place this summer quarter.

Attendees at the chamber seminar will also hear from officials at Providence Medical Center’s Colby campus, which is building the new 12-story tower expected to save $333,000 a year in energy costs.

The PUD’s Dana Peel said the agency offered the hospital financial and technical assistance, offering things such as variable speed boilers, chillers and water systems and efficient lighting and controls.

“The variable speed motors and controls are only operated at the speed their needed at,” said the PUD’s Neil Neroutsos. “Or they power off when not needed.”

The PUD can offer businesses financial incentives of 15 to 25 cents a kilowatt hour based on a project’s estimated energy savings for a year.

“That helps them pay for what they do,” Neroutsos said.

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