News Release – 6/2/11

For Information:
Erica Erland, Clark Public Utilities
360-992-3238, [email protected]


VANCOUVER, WA – June 2, 2011 – Clark Public Utilities today announced LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council of its new addition at the Ed Fisher Operations Center.

To earn LEED Gold certification, the customer-owned utility integrated energy and water conservation technologies throughout, making the addition more than 28 percent more efficient than standard buildings with projected annual energy savings of nearly $7,000.

"From compact fluorescent bulb kits for homeowners to full energy audits for businesses, much of what we do at the utility is based on the belief that conservation is the best way to keep energy and water costs down and preserve natural resources for the future," said Wayne Nelson, CEO and general manager of Clark Public Utilities. "So when we began the process of expanding the Operations Center, the decision to pursue sustainable building practices was easy. It was the right thing for us to do."

While many of the green building elements are visible features in and on the building, to earn LEED® Gold certification the entire process of design and construction requires careful attention. Requirements met as part of the utility’s green building process include:

  • 40 percent of building supplies sourced regionally
  • 30 percent of building materials made from recycled material
  • 60 percent of wood certified sustainably harvested
  • 99 percent of construction waste (1,941 tons) recycled or salvaged

Energy Efficiency
The new addition not only saves energy, it generates electricity from on-site photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into renewable power. Rooftop solar technologies include photovoltaic arrays, a flat solar thermal panel to heat the addition’s hot water tank and two "Sunflower" pole-mounted solar panels that were relocated during construction.

To supplement the on-site renewable power generation and energy efficiencies, more than 70 percent of purchased power for the addition is offset through participation in the Clark Public Utilities Green Lights program. The 187 blocks (1 block is equal to 100kWh)  of renewable energy credits are equal to preventing the production of 314,160 pounds of carbon dioxide or planting 62 acres of trees.

Water Conservation
Expected to save more than 187,000 gallons of water each year, the new addition is also an example of several water reduction strategies and new technologies such as low-flow bathroom fixtures and sustainable landscaping practices.

One of the most exciting features is the rain garden demonstration site, designed and installed by employees, which uses a natural bioswale to capture and treat all roof water runoff in an environmentally friendly way. The lush landscape also provides education opportunities for visitors and school tour groups and a natural habitat for native wildlife.

Work Environment
To reduce energy use and contribute to an improved work environment, the building is designed to maximize natural light year-round. Employees in more than 75 percent of the new addition work in spaces primarily lit via skylights, solar tube ceiling fixtures and a strategic workspace configuration. Exposure to sunlight has been shown to improve performance, productivity and overall comfort of occupants.

Use of low-VOC paints, trims and flooring throughout help to improve air quality, and an ongoing commitment to green cleaning practices reduces toxins and promotes health and safety. New bicycle racks and on-site showers, using solar-heated hot water, encourage employees to bike to work or use public transportation.

"Clark Public Utilities is unique in that energy efficiency and water conservation are at the very foundation of the organization," said Tim Buckley of Greenstone Architecture, LEED consultant for the project. "In addition to creating a healthy work space for its employees, the utility’s LEED Gold certification provides an example for its residential and commercial customers that green building can be both environmentally responsible as well as economically advantageous."

Together with BBL Architects and Greenstone Architecture, Clark Public Utilities is serving as an example of the many benefits of incorporating energy efficiencies and water conservation in building and remodeling practices through its participation in the LEED program.

About Clark Public Utilities
Clark Public Utilities is a customer-owned public utility that provides electric service to more than 183,000 customers throughout Clark County. The utility also provides water service to about 30,000 homes and businesses in the Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Lakeshore, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, La Center, Meadow Glade, Amboy and Yacolt areas.

Clark Public Utilities is proud to be named a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion and is only one of 40 companies so named in the U.S. Additionally, Clark Public Utilities was ranked highest in customer satisfaction among midsize utilities in the west by J.D. Power and Associates in 2008, 2009 and 2010.