An "Oakland Shines" auditor from Community Energy Services Corps visits a downtown Oakland business to conduct an audit.
The city of Oakland, along with the California Energy Commission, want its downtown area to be a showcase of energy efficiency technologies and low carbon emissions.
So, using a $5 million federal stimulus grant and working with utilities, it has launched "Oakland Shines" - offering free energy audits, technical assistance and retrofit rebates to businesses.
But while 400 businesses have accepted an audit from the "Oakland Shines" program, not so many have followed through with retrofits of their building's heating and cooling systems or lighting to be more energy efficiency. That's even though incentives and rebates offered by the program through partnerships with Pacific Gas & Electric and Community Services Energy Corps can cover the majority of retrofit costs, say organizers.
One happy property manager, Slyvia Rampi who manages the 800,000-square-foot Pacific Renaissance Plaza on at 388 Ninth St., says the rebates covered 90 percent of the costs.
"We just completed it, replacing 738 lighting figures throughout building, garage, stairwells. We ended up getting 90 percent rebate," or $91,300 in assistance, she said. The building's energy bill should be $35,765 lower each year than prior to the retrofit.
Several other large high profile buildings are undergoing retrofits. They include the Oakland Marriott Hotel, the Rotunda Building and Laney College. Laney should be saving 24,000 a year in energy costs or using 170,000 fewer kilowatt hours a year. That's enough to reduce its carbon footprint by 122,000 pounds a year, according to consultant Quantum Energy Services and Technology Inc., or QuEST, which is running Oakland Shines.
An audit covers lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and refrigeration systems. According to the terms of the grant from the California Energy Commission, Oakland Shines should then promote the newest energy efficiency technologies.
"These are technologies like LED lights and occupancy sensors," said Brendan Havenar-Daughten, QuEST program manager. "They might seem really expensive up-front, but the program arranges ways to pay down that cost quickly" in rebates from saved energy costs.
If the technology is aggressive, so is the rebate.
"Our incentives are like 50 or 60 cents per kilowatt hour," he said, which is about 10 times the more common rebates. It's all part of a philosophy of trying to make California the center of clean technology and green tech innovation.
Any business in a 120-block downtown area described on the oaklandshines.com website. Joanna Perez-Green of Community Energy Services said many businesses were eager to have an audit and a significant number were interested in lighting retrofits. The heating, cooling and ventilation part have been a slightly harder to sell.
"Oakland has been an extremely strong area for us. People here are just really receptive to energy efficiency and lowering maintenance costs. They seem to be aware that there are groups that are willing to support them and provide financial backing to help them switch over to energy efficiency."
To learn more, oaklandshines.com or call (877) 304-6133.