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Heat Pumps a Revolution in Home Heating
Saving on your utility bills, reducing energy use, lowering your carbon footprint — all admirable goals for the modern homeowner. But how can one do it all? The answer: innovation.
Innovation starts at home when you incorporate a heat pump to heat your home. While heat pump technology is anything but new, recent advances in the industry make this a viable heating option in colder climates.
Heat pumps work like your refrigerator, but in reverse. They move heat from the outside into your home. Yes, that’s right, heat from outside — when it’s cold! How do heat pumps achieve this? First, the outdoor unit of the heat pump moves air or water through a heat exchange fluid. The fluid is then compressed, causing the temperature to become hotter. The inside unit of the heat pump then distributes that warm air or water into the home. (1) This explanation is simplified — certainly not the in-depth version you’d learn in science class — but you get the gist.
Heat pumps are different than other systems because instead of generating heat, they move it. With this technology, “heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating.” (2) Compared to baseboard heaters and furnaces, heat pumps can reduce your electricity consumption by up to 50%. (3)
That is, unless heat is escaping from your house due to lack of air sealing and insulation. It is important to approach your home as an ecosystem, taking into account how everything is connected. Leaky windows, inadequate insulation, or poor air barriers could result in your home being too permeable for a heat pump to be effective. Consider looking at the whole picture of your home’s energy use and get a home energy assessment.
So now we’ve got your attention. What can CORE do to help? We offer three different rebates for homes interested in moving toward heat pump technology: ductless (mini-split), ground source, and electric (water heaters). Our website is your go-to for more information on rebates, as well as home energy assessment sign-ups.
“The Roaring Fork Valley has more organizations working on climate action and energy per capita than just about anywhere else.” These words, overheard at a green building event last week, show the passion that Roaring Fork Valley residents have for creating a sustainable future. While we can’t vouch for the number, we know that there are more people than we can count who are working together to reduce carbon emissions in the valley.
To wit: three valley non-profits are collaborating to provide communities with the tools to create a greener, more energy-efficient and resilient future.
CORE, CLEER, and Garfield Clean Energy (GCE) have made significant strides in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield Counties. In the upcoming months we are at it again, co-hosting community learning opportunities that focus on energy and economic development.
First on deck: a local power workshop organized by CLEER, and sponsored by CORE, called “Clean Innovative Energy Sources to Power Our Region.” On March 3, decision-makers, governments, organizations, businesses, and engaged citizens will gather to learn about clean energy sources in our region, identify partnership opportunities, and develop strategies to reach clean energy targets that will maximize local economic opportunities. The workshop will feature speakers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Institute, the Colorado Energy Office, and many more. Details and registration for the event, which is open to the public, are available at the GCE website.
Powering our region through local clean energy sources is an ambitious target. In order to stay on track, we must empower the workforce. On March 10, GCE, CLEER, and others are taking the lead, organizing a free half-day training for contractors and project developers interested in learning about C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy). This workshop will provide information and training on how to utilize the new financing tool in which building owners borrow money for energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy projects, making repayments via an assessment on their property tax bill. Registration is open now.
Providing the local workforce with additional tools for clean and lean energy is the premise behind the annual Energy Smart Contractor Expo*. The event, co-hosted by CORE, CLEER, and GCE, draws in 100-150 attendees and two-dozen vendors from the Roaring Fork Valley, Eagle Valley, and Grand Junction. Opportunities to network, discuss industry best practices, and learn about new technologies make this one of the Western Slope’s most popular events focused on building retrofits, energy efficiency and the built environment. Registration is open for the Expo, which will be held on April 27 at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.
By Kate Henion
*Interested in becoming a sponsor or vendor for this year’s Energy Smart Contractor Expo? Contact Kate Henion, Energy Programs Assistant with CORE.
“Yes, and is it enough?”
That was the challenge laid down by organizers of last Friday’s POW: Action Summit. The packed house of citizens — most of them trending young, all of them uniting around climate action — laid bare their suggestions to tackle what has been called “the issue of our time.” And still the facilitators pressed: “Is this enough?”
The event was the brainchild of four young Aspen go-getters who either grew up in the valley or, like so many before them, found it and fell in love: Reuben Sadowsky, Gretchen Bleiler, Joey Stokes and Nicole Lindstrom. Working with Protect Our Winters on the fundraiser that followed, the group corralled the valley’s climate action players (including CORE, Aspen Skiing Company, the Canary Initiative, ACES and many more) for a climate think tank in advance of the party. The event drew a capacity crowd to BLK MKT in downtown Aspen.
“Aspen can be a really powerful tool in global change, but in order to be that, we need it to be a bit more tied together and aligned for us to spread a consistent message,” said Sadowsky, who along with Stokes co-founded and directs Gravity Productions, an Aspen-based eventmaker focusing on creative, community-based gatherings.
“We did it also because we’re very concerned about climate change. We don’t know the answers personally, and so we wanted to reach out to the most knowledgeable people in the community to learn more. And we can do a lot more when we work together.”
Scribes filled white boards with action ideas, giving visual form to the messy diversity of community organizing. Ashley Perl, City of Aspen’s Canary Initiative Director was one of many trying to channel the room’s exuberant energy into a specific task: “Be loud with City Council about the value you place on the environment. They need to hear from you.”
There was no shortage of ideas. “Use our relationships with influential visitors to move national levers of power.” “Educate young people to become activists.” “Promote our clean mountain environment as the true luxury.” “Compost more.”
The energy was not to be contained, but that was not the point. Auden Schendler, Aspen SkiCo VP of Sustainability and one of the event’s stewards, walked away enthused. “I think it was good, and I measure that by the fact that I don’t see a lot of young people gathering up to think about wonky climate issues on a Friday night all that much.”
Stay tuned for more from Sadowsky and company. The group is working on how to bottle the passion and turn it into action. Climate, stand by. Aspen’s coming.
If you have visited the Sundeck, Rocky Mountain Institute, or a WE-Cycle solar charging station — or any number of buildings whose energy usage CORE has optimized in the last six years — then you’ve benefited from the work of Marty Treadway.
A CORE staffer since 2011, Marty is our Program Director. His job entails working with businesses, institutions, local governments, and nonprofits to optimize the energy performance of their facilities. He is part of a team that provides free technical and financial expertise to facilitate energy retrofits.
Marty has done us proud again by earning his professional credential as a Certified Energy Manager by the Association of Energy Engineers. “CEM,” as it is known in the trade, is a rigorous international certification considered to be the industry’s gold standard.
An architect by training, Marty is one of only four CEMs in the Roaring Fork Valley. The certification requires a four-year degree in Architecture or Engineering, plus more than three years of experience in energy management. To earn the credential, Marty spent five days in an intensive energy management course in December, capped by an exacting four-hour exam.
“I’m interested in making things work efficiently and effectively. Coming from the construction industry, I think we shouldn’t be building anything that uses more energy than it produces,” says Marty. “The CEM gives me a bigger bag of tricks to reach into.”
Marty’s primary responsibility at CORE is directing the organization’s grants program, overseeing more than $600,000 in annual grant funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. He also manages CORE’s tracking of energy savings and carbon emissions reduction, which is how we know that over the lifetime of our organization we’ve helped divert 424,412 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
You might have heard about Marty in the news lately, collaborating on large building retrofits like that of Aspen High School.
The CEM credential underscores Marty’s expertise for these types of partnerships: it certifies him as a systems integrator for electrical, mechanical, process, and building infrastructure, where he analyzes solutions to reduce energy consumption with a cost-effective approach.
Prior to joining CORE, Marty was a general contractor in the Roaring Fork Valley, as the co-owner of a design-build firm specializing in sustainably built custom homes. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from CU Denver and received his LEED Green Associate and BPI-Building Analyst certifications in 2011.
If you are interested in tapping grants, technical expertise or financial consulting to improve the energy efficiency of your facility, please connect with Marty at 970.925.9775 ext. 504.
It’s easy to shine a spotlight on our longtime partner, the Town of Snowmass Village. The forward-thinking municipality has been at CORE’s side from the get-go in 1994 and continues to advance energy efficiency and climate action, resulting in a 9% reduction in carbon emissions since 2009.
The Town’s highlights reel of innovations includes their Recreation Center, which uses solar panels to heat the pool and domestic water, in turn heating and cooling the rest of the facility. Last year CORE awarded the Town two Randy Udall Energy Pioneer grants to improve the building envelope and controls in 56 of its affordable housing units, lowering energy consumption across 24,000 square feet of built environment. The Facilities Department is also poised for a major energy project — overhauling the mechanical systems and controls that provide safety snowmelt for Carriage Way — which is expected to save the Town $170,000. Snowmass Village residents also flex their green muscles, signing up for more than 100 home energy assessments in the last three years.
Thank you Snowmass Village for your work to create a clean energy future for the community. We couldn’t do it without you.
Internal combustion engine, you’ve been put on notice. Motor Trend magazine announced its 2017 Car of the Year and, for the second time in the award’s seven decades, an electric vehicle took home the top prize. The magazine calls the Chevrolet Bolt EV a “game changer” for its long range (238 miles on a full charge) and relatively low price ($25K in Colorado, after the $12,500 in state and federal tax rebates).
Chevrolet is among six local dealers bringing EV models to market on the Western Slope. Get the lowdown on models, EV types (yes, there’s more than one) and subsidies in CORE’s 2017 EV Tax Credit Guide from November 2016.
There’s more: A regional effort for a group EV purchase program is in the works. This promotion, led by CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy, with participation from CORE and other partners, will help buyers purchase an electric vehicle (battery or plug-in) at a discounted price this spring. A similar program in Boulder last year resulted in 248 new electric vehicles for area residents. Watch for details to come.
According to a recent study, a green building boom is pumping billions into the US economy. By 2018, more than a million jobs and $75.6 billion in wages are expected to be generated by the green building sector, which is outpacing overall construction growth in the nation.
We’re seeing this trend take off right here in the Roaring Fork Valley, where energy efficiency and renewable energy jobs are up for grabs. “There’s big demand for solar installers, insulation companies and weatherization professionals,” says Charlie Eckart, Building Science Coordinator for CORE.
“CORE’s goal is to make it easy for residents to retrofit their homes with lean and clean energy. One way we do that is by developing a qualified workforce in the valley,” he says. “It’s a win-win.”
Individuals with experience in construction or building design are especially well-positioned to take advantage of these job opportunities. For those aspiring to pursue a career in this industry, CORE offers individual grants of $1,000 each for Building Performance Institute or RESNET certification, a requirement for our local energy analysts.
On the hunt for the biggest environmental bang for their buck, last year the Town of Basalt’s Green Team set its sights on an LED streetlight makeover. Within six months, they had the retrofit in the bag and were on the way to saving 61,000 kilowatt hours and more than $7,000 annually. With 50% of the costs covered by rebates from CORE and Holy Cross Energy, the project is estimated to hit payback after a year and a half.
“CORE took us by the hand and showed us how it all worked,” says Boyd Bierbaum, Public Works Director, of the project to replace all 180 of the Town’s metal halide fixtures with “corn cob” LED lamps, so named for their cylindrical shape and kernel-like pattern of lights. The new LEDs use just 14% of the power required by the previous lamps.
“We worked with the Town to provide free technical expertise, offer financial advising and connect them to resources,” says Mona Newtown, Executive Director of CORE. “Partnerships are key to having a big impact — on costs and on carbon.”
One Source Lighting purchased the bulbs and oversaw their installation throughout Basalt, from Old Town to Willits.
Apart from the savings, “the biggest benefit is the standardization of bulbs,” says Bierbaum. “Before we had to carry ten different bulbs [in the trucks]; now it’s just two.” He says this reaps savings on maintenance as well.
The future looks bright for Basalt. CORE also helped the Town identify opportunities for future energy savings, including retrofitting fixtures inside of Town buildings. Stay tuned.
To learn more about CORE’s grants and rebates for businesses, public institutions and nonprofits, and find out how you can benefit from free technical and financial advising on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, contact Grants Manager Marty Treadway at 970.925.9775 ext. 504.
Top 11 Things We Learned During the Aspen Energy Challenge
A race to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future, involving millions of homeowners, more than 100 utilities, 50 communities, and one $5 million-dollar award. That’s the Georgetown University Energy Prize. In 2014, Aspen threw its hat in the ring of the two-year effort (known locally as the Aspen Energy Challenge) along with CORE, Holy Cross and Black Hills Energy. Together, we were determined to help the community save as much energy as possible. Here’s what we discovered along the way.
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