With concerns about the environment on the rise, many organizations are doing everything they can to support more eco-friendly business operations and construction. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has been offering grants for decades to encourage local businesses and organizations to engage in more environmentally friendly practices. The Evergreen State College was the recipient of one of the grants for their participation in PSE’s commercial retrofit program, which will benefit the college’s bottom line and help make living costs more affordable for students.

Puget Sound Energy PSE-Grant-Evergreen-Exhaust-Fans
Through PSE’s commercial retrofit grant program, the Evergreen State College was able to install new exhaust fans and new exterior ductwork. Photo credit: James Whelan

“We work with customers and contractors to identify, analyze and incentivize cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades,” explains Tyson Schmitt, who is an energy management engineer for PSE. This includes systems such as heating and cooling equipment, lighting, refrigeration equipment, boilers and air compressors. PSE has awarded several hundred grants this year to a broad array of commercial and industrial customers to incentivize upgrades that will improve energy efficiency. “Our customers include everything from industrial manufacturing facilities and corporate offices to farms and grocery stores,” Tyson says. “If it saves energy and is cost-effective, there is a good chance we will help pay for it in some way.”

The commercial retrofit program is one of the avenues businesses and organizations can pursue for grant funding. It is open to all commercial gas and electric customers who wish to improve energy efficiency within their operations. The Evergreen State College participated in this program in 2021 and was awarded a $1.3 million grant to make significant and impactful improvements to their labs and equipment. “We have been working with them for several years to identify energy efficiency measures, and I’m glad that we have been able to find some huge opportunities,” Tyson shares.

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The Evergreen State College upgraded the fume hoods in one of their labs to improve air flow. The new fume hoods have additional control that will modulate air flow depending on the hood sash position. This creates safer environment for people working in the lab. Photo credit: James Whelan

With this funding, The Evergreen State College was able to upgrade their Lab 1 HVAC system with new fans and a new heat recovery wheel. They also made upgrades to their steam plant and distribution system by replacing existing steam traps among a few other changes. By taking the time to make these alterations, The Evergreen State College has been able to reduce their overall expenses and carbon footprint through better energy practices. “These savings will be passed on to their students in the form of minimized college expenses,” says Tyson. Additionally, the work they have done is a great example for other organizations in the area that have laboratories or steam plants wishing to improve efficiency.

Energy efficiency improvement projects are often costly, which is why the grants can make such a big difference. “The money we provide to help offset some of the capital cost helps make these projects feasible for customers,” Tyson explains. “We are trying to do our part in our local communities to support businesses in whatever cost-effective energy efficiency upgrade they are interested in.”

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The Evergreen State College lab gives students a place to work with a range of chemicals, so it is important to have proper air flow inside. They were able to upgrade the lab’s HVAC system to improve working conditions for their students. Photo credit: James Whelan

Businesses that are interested in taking advantage of this financial support simply have to submit a grant application to PSE with their cost-effective project ideas. “Our website is a great starting point for customers to figure out what kind of incentive they may be eligible for,” says Tyson. “We work closely with customers and contractors to verify that the project qualifies before executing a grant agreement.” With so many options, it is very likely that there is a grant program available through PSE that can help your business become more energy efficient today.

Giving incentives to businesses to lower their costs with PSE likely sounds counterproductive. There are many reasons that PSE encourages less energy use, even if it means less revenue for them overall. “We are trying to be leaders in the industry with aggressive carbon footprint reduction goals that we have set in place,” Tyson shares. “We want to keep energy demand as low as possible.” By doing so, PSE is also minimizing the amount of new energy generation and distribution systems, which cuts some of their own expenses too. For PSE, the most rewarding part of the grant program is the opportunity to support the local community and engage with their customers on a more personal level. “We want to reward customers for partnering with us as we work together to create a clean energy future,” he says.

PSE is deeply committed to partnering with the local community to promote cleaner, more efficient energy use and reduce our overall carbon footprint. By partnering with PSE, local businesses can get the financial support they need to be part of the solution. If you are a local business with a project idea to improve energy efficiency in your organization, visit their website to learn more about available incentives and fill out a form today. For additional help, call 1.800.562.1482 to speak with a PSE Energy Advisor.


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