West Virginia Office of Energy awarded $300,000 in competitive grant funding

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has been selected to receive a $300,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. West Virginia is one of 16 states to receive a 2018 Competitive State Energy Program (SEP) grant.

The state will use the SEP grant for a Building Energy Performance Benchmarking Education Initiative.

“This Competitive State Energy Program grant will help us make our state-owned buildings more energy efficient, saving taxpayer dollars and creating better economic opportunities,” said Ed Gaunch, Secretary, West Virginia Department of Commerce. “Benchmarking our public buildings will give government an opportunity to lead by example as we work to cut energy costs.”

Energy benchmarking measures a building’s energy use over time. The information establishes a baseline that can be compared to the energy use of similar buildings and identify opportunities to cut energy waste.

The state will use the SEP funds to benchmark the energy efficiency of an estimated 1,000 public buildings, primarily K-12 schools. The program will analyze buildings energy performance, identifying what works and what can be improved. In addition, facility managers, maintenance staff and students will learn how to continue benchmarking activities.

“The program will identify a building’s energy use index, or EUI,” said Karen Lasure, energy specialist with the state energy office. “It’s like a car’s miles per gallon, but for a building. Buildings that are benchmarked consistently achieve 2 – 4 percent energy use reduction each year”

Eligible top scoring buildings will receive state and national recognition. Schools with lower scoring buildings will receive help to prioritize those with the most savings potential, as well as identifying low- and no-cost energy saving opportunities.

“It is very easy for a building to see significant energy use reductions with minimum investment effort,” said Lasure. “Improvements in energy use can then free up budget dollars being spent on utilities, allowing those funds to be reallocated to more important costs.”

SEP funds cannot be used to pay for upgrades and retrofits themselves. However, the program will provide training and technical assistance to building staff. The support will help staff learn how to prioritize upgrades, continue annual benchmarking and other important skills.

West Virginia has received SEP formula funding since 2010. These funds have provided energy audits, workforce training and technical assistance to hundreds of businesses, municipalities and organizations in the state. This year’s benchmarking initiative is West Virginia’s first fully funded proposal from the competitive funding opportunity.

Partners on this SEP project include WVU Statler School of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering Program; West Virginia American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (WV ASHRAE); West Virginia Department of Education Office of School Facilities and the National Energy Education Development Program.

West Virginia public facility managers and other building owners are encouraged to take part in the benchmarking initiative. More information is available from Lasure at Karen.R.Lasure@wv.gov, 304-957-2074.

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